Eleven test pits were excavated in the northern half of Long Melford by 44 Year 9 and Year 10 students from Ormiston Sudbury Academy, Hedingham School, Thomas Gainsborough School and Samuel Ward Academy. The test pitting was part of the Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) programme undertaken by Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA) in East Anglia, which aims to raise the aspirations, enthusiasm and attainment of 14-17 year-olds with regard to higher education by making a valuable contribution to current academic research at the University of Cambridge, and in the process contribute to the university's Currently Occupied Rural Settlements (CORS) research into the development of rural communities and settlements in the past.
The 2014 excavations followed on from those undertaken in Long Melford in 2011 and 2013, bringing the total number of test pits so far excavated in the village to 57. The 2014 excavations yielded further Late Anglo Saxon pottery from the test pits that were excavated on the greens around the church. At the base of one of the test pits a post hole was found, which although lacking finds, was remarkably similar in dimensions, locasion and depth to another discovered in a nearby test-pit in 2013 which was associated with Thetford Ware. The archaeological evidence is hence indicating increasingly clearly that a settlement was present in this area during the late Saxon period, confirming tax assessment recorded in the Domesday Book and providing for the first time evidence of exactly where some of this population lived.
Two test pits excavated behind the church found disarticulated fragmentary human remains and fragments of grave monuments set back from the consecrated ground. Finds from the rest of the 2014 pits reinforce the pattern indicated in previous years, suggesting that there was very limited activity in the Roman period in the north of the village, with settlement in the Late Anglo Saxon and high medieval period village occupying two separate foci, one near the church and the other in the centre of the present village. The volumes of pottery recovered suggests that the late medieval settlement was not adversely affected by the Black Death, being one of only 10% of settlements in eastern England included to date in the CORS project not to show marked signs of contraction after the mid-14th century.