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Blythburgh 2017

Blythburgh 2017 Test Pit Location Map

Blythburgh 2017 Test Pit Pottery Report


In April 2017 a total of 13 1m square archaeological test pits were excavated in Blythburgh by 47 Year 8 and Year 9 students from Benjamin Britten School, Bungay High School, Hobart High School, Sir John Lemen High School and Ormiston Denes Academy and were dug as part of the Independent Learning Archaeology Field School (ILAFS) programme, formally known as 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, into the development of rural communities and settlements in the past.

2017 was the first year of excavations in Blythburgh and the test pits were spread across the settlement and the earliest evidence for activity in the village was during the Middle Anglo Saxon period (and around the time of the formation of the church) but was identified from a test pit in the south of the village at BLY/17/8. It is perhaps surprising that more Later Anglo Saxon pottery was not recorded from the test pits given the ongoing presence of the church and the settlement which was part of the royal estate; only two test pits yielded pottery of this date (BLY/17/9 in the south and BLY/17/13 opposite the priory land in the north). Blythburgh continued to grow through the medieval period, with a particular focus along the original main roads through the settlement and away from the original church that was developed into an Augustinian Priory in the 12th century. Activity seems to continue at a high level into the later medieval period, despite the various socio-economic factors that were affecting the entire population during the 14th century in particular. It may have been the presence of the priory that meant the settlement continued to flourish. The settlement expanded again after the dissolution of the priory and more land became available for development, but it remained small as did not expand much beyond the extent of the settlement during the 19th century.