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Nayland 2012

Nayland 2012 Pottery Report

Nayland 2012 Test Pit Location Map

Nayland 2012 Report on the Archaeological Test Pit Excavations

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Thirty-four test pits were excavated in Nayland in October 2012 funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Managing a Masterpiece scheme. The earliest material recovered were two sherds of Roman-British pottery from NAY/12/1 (close to the A134 bypass) and ten from the opposite end of the village over 1km east (NAY/12/15, NAY/12/17 and NAY/12/18). This is suggestive of two separate areas of activity at this time, with the easterly cluster in particular considered likely to derive from settlement in the vicinity.

Very little archaeological evidence for Anglo-Saxon settlement was recovered from the test pits excavated in 2012, suggesting the area of the modern village was mostly unused for settlement until around the beginning of the 12th century. While it has previously been suggested that there may have been an Anglo Saxon settlement on Court Knoll and in the vicinity of present-day Nayland, the test pit excavations in the village produced no evidence to support this. The evidence from the test pit excavations suggests that the pre-Domesday population was not concentrated into a nucleated village in this area at this time. It is interesting to note that a series of test pits excavated in 2012 under the aegis of Suffolk County Council in neighbouring Stoke-by-Nayland also produced Roman-era and high/late medieval sherds but no Anglo-Saxon pottery, suggesting a very similar pattern to that seen in Nayland. This suggests that the population in Stoke-by-Nayland was also probably dispersed in the Anglo Saxon period rather than clustered in a nucleated village at the site of the present-day settlement.

A large volume of pottery of high medieval date was recovered from the 2012 test pits in Nayland and is indicative of a nucleated settlement centred around Birch Street, Fen Street, Mill Street, High Street and the eastern end of Bear Street. Test pits NAY/12/13, NAY/12/14, NAY/12/25 and NAY/12/34 revealed evidence for recent disturbance, and the pottery distributions and finds from these pits are unlikely to be representative of the history of activity at the sites. Interestingly these test pits represent four of just six test pits from the central village area that did not produce sherds of high medieval pottery, contrasting sharply with the seventeen pits in this area that did.

By contrast, the western part of the village produced hardly any evidence of human activity prior to the 15th century. The lack of 12th-14th century pottery in pits NAY/12/06, NAY/12/08 and NAY/12/25 may also imply that the houses between Bear Street and Mill Stream were a later addition to the settlement arranged north of the road, which all have better evidence for occupation during this period. It thus appears that this western arm of the village appeared during a secondary phase of village expansion and development.

Perhaps the most striking observations to come from the 2012 test pit excavations in Nayland is the very large quantity of later medieval pottery recovered. It is clear that Nayland grew significantly in size and in intensity of occupation. This is in marked contrast to the pattern observed in most settlements within which test pit excavations have taken place as part of the University of Cambridge CORS project, around 90% of which display contraction in the later medieval period (mid 14th – mid 16th century), mostly of some severity. Nayland clearly bucks this trend, with 76% of the excavated pits producing at least a couple of sherds of this date, considerably higher than the regional average.