Monument record IPS 292 - Fore Street, Neptune Quay, Ipswich, (IAS 6601).

Please read our .


Several events with Middle Saxon to Post-Medieval finds and features, including waterlogged wooden remains.


Grid reference Centred TM 1691 4409 (94m by 74m)
Map sheet TM14SE


Type and Period (29)

Full Description

1989: Excavation. The first archaeological investigation of the site was carried out in 1989 when a north to south orientated trench was excavated by the Suffolk County Council's Archaeological Unit. A series of three strand-line ditches were recorded (early medieval date) which suggested that the riverbank then followed a more north-east to south-westerly alignment (coinciding with Speed’s map of 1610). A stone (flint & septaria) and brick wall was revealed to the south of the ditches, running on a similar alignment. A group of vertically placed timbers behind the wall was interpreted as being contemporary with the wall and representing part of the tie-back structure anchoring it into the riverbank to the north. The deeply stratified river deposits, comprising a combination of naturally accreted layers and deliberate dumping, were also sampled (to the south of and beneath the wall itself). The bottom of the sequence was not encountered with the lowermost sediments sampled appearing to have accumulated during the Middle Saxon period (mid 7th to mid 9th century). The artefactual evidence from the river deposits included organic material with leather shoes particularly common.

In addition to the archaeological deposits associated with the river, investigation was also carried out into the 19th/early 20th century clay pipe industry known to have been located in the area of the excavation (owned by the Goodwin family of Titmarsh & Goodwin). While the actual kilns were not identified, there were large quantities of kiln lining (formed from broken pipes and pipe clay) and kiln waster pipes. Furthermore, large quantities of broken pipes, many with highly decorated bowls, were recovered. Subsequent research has suggested that the more ornate pipes were imported, the majority from Holland, (formerly recorded under IPS 216, included as part of IPS 292 due to misnumbering by Ipswich archive project), (S1, S4). See also Plant remains report (S8), and tree ring report (S9).

1998: Desk Based Assessment, (S5).

1998: Evaluation. Two trial-trenches were excavated within the footprint of the proposed buildings close to the Fore Street frontage of the site. In addition, the excavation of eight engineering test-pits was also monitored. After the removal of the concrete slabs associated with the more recent activity on the site, the trenches were mechanically excavated down to a maximum depth of 1.2 metres. Evidence was recorded in both trenches for cellars, rooms and passages associated with buildings fronting onto Fore Street. These were dated from their included bricks as late 17th to 19th century, although the good quality of the brickwork suggests a date towards the later end of this range.

One earlier wall was recorded which was tentatively interpreted as the possible continuation of a Quay Wall, previously identified in a small excavation carried out in 1989, which may have followed the line of the earlier riverbank into a small tributary to the main river. However, this interpretation was revised in light of additional information recorded during the follow-up excavation carried out later in 1998. The wall was found to be part of a building fronting on Fore Street, and probably post-dating the major 17th century enwharfment layer described below (although an equally plausible alternative interpretation suggests that the building was late medieval in date relating to an earlier, less extensive, enwharfment episode).

In addition, an extensive layer was recorded over the eastern end of the site which was dated, by using both artefactual and cartographic evidence, to the 17th century, and represented a programme of enwharfment carried out between the production of Speed’s map of Ipswich (1610) and Ogilby’s of 1674. Below this layer, on the riverward side of the quay wall, waterlogged deposits were recorded. These were similar to those seen in the 1989 excavation (dating from the mid 7th to 16th centuries) and represented the natural accretion and deliberate dumping of material in the intertidal zone of the riverbank during this period. Naturally occurring sand and gravel of the original riverbank were only identified towards the north-west corner of the site in Trench 1.

1998/1999: Excavation.The follow-up excavation recovered further evidence for the Quay Wall (now thought to be of late medieval date) previously seen in the 1989 excavation. An associated revetment and bank structure was also identified, along with a wood base plate for a small jetty. In addition, a single, probably early medieval, inhumation burial was recorded with the grave respecting the line of the three ?early medieval strand-line ditches.

Buildings recorded in the excavation suggested that development along the line of Fore Street may have occurred as earlier as the later medieval period with relatively smaller structures the norm. This pattern continued until the 19th century when the majority of the smaller buildings were replaced by larger structures (predominately warehouses and maltings).

During the monitoring of contractors groundworks a brick built quay wall (c.17th century) was recorded on the line of the present southern edge of the overall development site. The wooden tie-back structure was pulled out by mechanical excavator. A number of the massive timbers were retained as they were re-used ships timbers (also some from timber framed buildings), probably from the shipyards known from immediately east of the Neptune Quay site, (S7, S8), also and Organic wood report (S10).

See also (S1-S6)

Sources/Archives (10)

  • <S1> Unpublished document: Newman J. 1989. Neptune Quay, fore Street, Ipswich.
  • <S2> Index: Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service. 1974. Ipswich Archaeological Survey Card Index (digital version).. IAS 6601.
  • <S3> Index: Suffolk Archaeology Unit. 1974. SAU index card and Archive. IAS 6601.
  • <S4> Unpublished document: Wade, K. 2014. Ipswich Archive Site Summaries, Site name: Neptune Quay.
  • <S5> Unpublished document: Hawkins, D.. 1998. Desk Based Assessment, Neptune Quay, Ipswich, Suffolk.
  • <S6> Unpublished document: Boulter S. 1998. Neptune Quay, Ipswich (IAS 6601) Record of an Archaeological Evaluation & Monitoring of Engineering Test-Pits.
  • <S7> Unpublished document: Boulter S. 2000. Neptune Quay, Ipswich (IAS 6601), Record of an Archaeological Excavation.
  • <S8> Finds Report: V. Fryer and P. Murphy. 1993. MACROBOTANICAL REMAINS FROM NEPTUNE QUAY, IPSWICH (IAS 6601): AN ASSESSMENT..
  • <S9> Finds Report: Cathy Groves. 1990. Neptune Quay, Ipswich (site code: IAS6601).

Finds (102)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (10)

Related Events/Activities (5)

Record last edited

Jul 21 2017 12:17PM

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.