Monument record IPS 285 - Excavation, Marks & Spencer Extension, 24 - 26 Westgate Street, (IAS 0602)

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September 1995: Excavation of a 24 square metre area in advance of the construction of an extension revealed a number of archaeological features. Roman to Post Medieval.


Grid reference Centred TM 1612 4473 (6m by 7m) (Centred on)
Map sheet TM14SE


Type and Period (5)

Full Description

September 1995: Excavation of a 24 square metre area in advance of the construction of an extension revealed a number of archaeological features. Seven phases of activity, relating to four chronological periods, were identified suggesting activity on site continuously from the LSax period to the present. Situated within Med core of town, circa 50m S of its defensive bank & ditch. Note slightly larger excavation circa 50m to the E (IAS 0703) in 1993. Details in (S1-S7)

Late Saxon
The earliest activity on the site was represented by a series of nine associated post-holes forming the corner of a surface lain building. The dating evidence was scant, based only on a single sherd of Thetford Ware which could easily have been intrusive or related to the destruction rather than construction of the building. Stratigraphically the post-holes were cut by and, therefore, predate Late Saxon pits and must themselves be of Late Saxon date (c.850-1000), or possibly earlier. However, the orientation of the walls of the building may also be significant, appearing to be aligned respecting the intramural street to the north rather than Westgate Street to the south. If this is a genuine alignment respecting the town's defences to the north, themselves securely dated to the early 10th Century, then this constitutes further evidence for a Late Saxon, no earlier than 10th Century, date for the building the presence of which suggests that tenement blocks had been laid out in this area of the town by this time.

Late Saxon/Early Medieval
After the dismantling of the building the site appears to have undergone a phase of pitting spanning through from the Late Saxon Period (c.850-1000), into the Early Medieval Period (c.1000-1200), which, although separated into two phases in this report, may have been continuous. At this time the area of the site almost certainly formed part of the backyards of properties to the south or to the north, the lack of recorded boundaries making it impossible to say which. The Westgate Street frontage was, however, slightly nearer than the intramural street to the north and seems the most likely candidate. A further possibility is that no formal marked boundaries existed between the two, the pits being excavated in open ground behind the buildings.

The pits themselves were probably excavated as latrines and were later filled with domestic rubbish. The finds recovered from these pits included a large quantity of metal working slag suggesting that this activity may have been going on in the vicinity, although this material has been recorded elsewhere in Ipswich being used as metalling for the roads.

The Late Medieval Period (c.1200-1480)

Firstly an east to west orientated boundary ditch was inserted, the only evidence recorded on the site for any division between properties to the north and south. This feature, however appeared to be short lived, there was no evidence for recutting and the homogenous fill suggested backfilling as a single event.

Secondly, following the redundancy and backfilling of the ditch, a series of two clay lined ovens were built, the second partially truncating the first and overlying the ditch. There was no indication as to the use of these ovens, although bread baking seems the most likely.

Thirdly, after the ovens had gone out of use a further phase of pitting was indicated with the larger of the two ovens partially truncated on its eastern side.

Post Medieval
The only evidence for post-medieval activity on the site was a single pit.

All period detail from (S2)

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <S1> Unpublished document: Suffolk Archaeological Service. Parish file.
  • <S2> Unpublished document: Boulter S. 1995. MARKS AND SPENCERS EXTENSION, 24 & 26 WESTGATE STREET, IPSWICH, (IAS 0602). SAU, Boulter S, Marks & Spencer Extension, 24 & 26 Westgate Street, Ipswich (IAS 0602), Excavation R.
  • <S4> Index: Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service. 1974. Ipswich Archaeological Survey Card Index (digital version).. IAS 0602.
  • <S6> Index: Suffolk Archaeology Unit. 1974. SAU index card and Archive. IAS 0602.
  • <S7> Article in serial: Martin, E.A., Pendleton, C. & Plouviez, J.. 1996. Archaeology in Suffolk 1995. XXXVIII (4).

Finds (30)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Jun 6 2017 3:09PM

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