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Blythburgh Test Pit Location Map 2019

Blythburgh Test Pit Pottery Report 2019


Over the 1st and 2nd of May 2019, 11 1m square archaeological test pits were excavated in Blythburgh, by a total of 42 Year 8 and 9 students from Benjamin Britten Music Academy, 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 2019 excavations brought the total number of test pits excavated in the village to 36, with an east-west spread across the settlement and fitting in-between the previous years of excavations. As in the previous years, 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 two test pits (BLY/19/3 and BLY/19/9), the latter of which was in an area already known to have activity of this date and is situated close to the river crossing. Activity was seen to continue over the areas with Middle Saxon occupation into the Late Anglo Saxon period, with a further two test pits (BLY/19/4 and BLY/19/10) yielding just one and three sherds respectively. It was during the high medieval period though that the largest expansion of settlement was seen in Blythburgh, particularly in the area to the south of the 12th century Augustinian Priory as well as to the east by the river crossing. A total of 47 sherds of high medieval pottery were found from eight test pits. It may have been the presence of the priory that 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). An increase of pottery was found from the Blythburgh test pits dating to the later medieval, with 59 sherds of 14th-15th century date from eight test pits. The settlement may have been slow to expand after the Black Death and the dissolution of the priory, with the loss of the markets, a number of fires and a general decrease in the population, the village remained the small settlement that can still be seen today.