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Sudbury 2014

Sudbury Report: Archaeological Test Pit Excavations in Sudbury, Suffolk, 2014


Sudbury 2014 Test Pit Location Map

Sudbury 2014 Pottery Report

Sudbury 2014 Animal bone Report

Sudbury 2014 Lithics Report


Click here to read about the impact of the project.


Local residents in Sudbury came together to fund and organise a three day test pit community excavation in October 2014, with support from The Sudbury Society, The Sudbury History Society and The Sudbury Museum Trust. The focus of the community dig was on the historic core in the south of town as well as the area across the bridge into Ballingdon. A total of 31 test pits were excavated, with 125 Year 6 Primary school pupils from Woodhall Community Primary School, Tudor Church of England VC Primary School, St Gregory CEVC Primary School and St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary School taking part on the first day. Each Year 6 class from the schools had their own test pit to excavate and they came out in small groups throughout the day. Six GCSE students and staff from Thomas Gainsborough School also joined in, with three of the students filming the activities as part of their Media course, and another three History students allocated to work on test pits and taking responsibility for the recording.

The rest of the 26 test pits were excavated over the weekend by local residents helped by volunteers from elsewher (some having previously taken part on the Nayland test pit excavations). The pottery from the Sudbury test pits provides no evidence for settlement of Roman date underlying the excavated area, but does indicate a focus of activity in the historic core of the town from the Early Saxon period, which continued through the Middle Saxon and expanded in the Late Saxon period. Pottery of early or middle Anglo-Saxon date is uncommon in Suffolk rural settlements and the evidence from Sudbury supports historical evidence attesting to the site's importance at this time. By the late Anglo Saxon period Sudbury was a burh and the settlement had a market in the very early 11th century and was surrounded by a substantial town ditch.  Large volumes of pottery from large numbers of pits support historical records which indicate that Sudbury thrived during the medieval period when it was an important centre of the Suffolk wool trade and also the home of one of the three Dominican priories in Suffolk. Like many Suffolk settlements included in the CORS project, Sudbury does not seem to have contracted in the late medieval period, in marked contrast with settlements elsewhere in the eastern region which contracted by 50% or more in the period following the Black Death. Sudbury seems to have only been slightly affected by the Black Death and its prosperity, particularly evident in test pits between the market and the priory, was indicated by the discovery of painted medieval window glass as well as a jetton.