Monument record IPS 305 - Site of former Oxborrows Hotel, St. Peter's Street, Ipswich, (IAS 2902).

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1998: Small excavation at the junction of St. Peter's Street and Star Lane in advance of building works located several pits andarticulated burials.


Grid reference Centred TM 16323 44153 (4m by 6m)
Map sheet TM14SE


Type and Period (7)

Full Description

The site lies within the seventh century nucleus of Ipswich, and later Anglo-Saxon town and may be located within the precincts of both the Priory of St Peter and Paul and Cardinal Wolsey's College, although the available documentary sources do not offer conclusive evidence of the boundaries of these sites, or the former extent of St. Peter's churchyard.

The discovery of the remnant of an early (7th Century) sunken featured building in this location is perhaps not surprising being so close to the excavated area of the Novotel site, west of St. Peter's Street, where similar structures were excavated in 1986. It is however unfortunate that this structure could only be recognised as a depression in the natural subsoil, and that all the associated structural features had been lost as a result of later pitting. What is perhaps more surprising is the lack of Middle Saxon (7th - 9th century) evidence, although the inclusion of a quantity of Ipswich ware in the pottery assemblage from the site, may simply indicate that the density of Middle Saxon features was low in this particular area. In terms of artefactual evidence, this small site is important in producing a relatively large group of Late Sax on domestic waste, particularly pottery and animal bone, from a late Saxon street frontage. The fact that pits of this date do appear along the St. Peter's Street frontage does however imply that the street frontages were not developed at this time. However, previous evidence gained from within the historic town, might not preclude the existence of larger cellared buildings set back from the street. The cemetery that cut the 10th-11th century pit group, is difficult to date, in that the only finds made in association with the bodies are probably residual; again predominantly comprising Thetford ware. In this location the burials appear to lie outside the known precinct of the Priory of St. Peter and St. Paul, and there is a strong possibility that they may pre-date its foundation sometime in the 12th century. That these are burials associated with the cemetery of St. Peter's church also seems unlikely, as archaeological monitoring undertaken by Elizabeth Owles, on behalf of Ipswich Borough Museum, during the construction of Star Lane in 1973, recorded no human burials. This would seem to indicate that this place of burial was a separate entity to the known churchyard lying south of Star Lane. Archaeological work elsewhere in the town does however suggest that burials do occur, around the 11th Century, in locations outside of the parish churchyards. A similar small scale cemetery was located on Foundation Street (IAS 4601) in 1985, although in this case it was well back from the street frontage. However the discovery of a burial, cut by the front wall of the basement of the former Atfield and Daughters, on St. Stephen' s Lane, in 1992 (IAS 3301), may suggest that small, possibly family, cemeteries may have been located both on vacant plots along street frontages, as well as in back garden locations, around the town in this period. The excavation does nothing to further our knowledge of the town in the later medieval and post medieval periods, although excavation has produced an intriguing snapshot of the industrial past of the site. This relates to various features associated with iron working; presumably dating to around the turn of this century. While Mason's map of 1906 clearly marks the existence of the St. Peter's Iron Works directly east of St. Peter's church, it does not suggest that the works extended north and westward onto this site. However the discovery of features, including a large smelting pot and a casting pit, associated with iron working indicates that the area immediately south of the present standing building was located within the foundry complex (S1-S3).

See also S4 (human bones found on site in 1954)

Sources/Archives (4)

  • --- News Paper: 1954. Human Bones Below Car Park on site of Former Ipswich Priory.
  • <S1> Index: Suffolk Archaeology Unit. 1974. SAU index card and Archive. IAS 2902.
  • <S2> Index: Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service. 1974. Ipswich Archaeological Survey Card Index (digital version).. IAS 2902.
  • <S3> Unpublished document: loader, T & Finch, E. 1999. 35-37 St Peter's Street, Ipswich, (Former Oxborrow Hotel) IAS 2902/IPS 305.

Finds (27)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Dec 15 2020 9:21AM

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