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Blythburgh 2018 Test Pit Location Map

Blythburgh 2018 Test Pit Pottery Report


In the middle of May 2018, 12 1m square archaeological test pits were excavated in Blythburgh, by a total of 48 Year 8 and 9 students from Pakefield High School, Benjamin Britten School, Bungay High School, Sir John Leman 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.

The 2018 excavations added to the results of the 2017 test pitting in the village and brought the total number of test pits dug here to 25 and in 2018 were mainly concentrated on the western side of the A12. Much like in 2017, no Romano-British activity was identified, with the earliest pottery evidence dating to the Middle Anglo Saxon period (again roughly contemporary with the formation of the first church here) and the pottery found in three test pits relatively close by (BLY/18/8, BLY/18/9 and BLY/18/11). Activity was seen to continue in this area during the Later Anglo Saxon period with again three test pits yielding pottery of this date; BLY/18/8, BLY/18/9 and BLY/18/10 to show that this part of the village was the focus of settlement at that time. It was during the high medieval period in particular though that the village expanded across the south of the Anglo Saxon church which became an Augustinian Priory during the 12th century, with eight of the 2018 test pits producing pottery of this date (a total of 90 sherds!). It may have been the presence of the priory, which enabled the settlement here to continue to flourish during the later medieval, despite the various socio-economic factors that were affecting the entire population during the 14th century in particular (including the Black Death), with nine test pits yielding pottery of a 14th to 15th century date. 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.