Monument record BSE 332 - Abbey Gardens Management Plan

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An archaeological assessment included topographic and geophysical surveys, palaeo-environmental assessment and test-pitting, within the Abbey Gardens.


Grid reference Centred TL 8571 6414 (367m by 442m)
Map sheet TL86SE


Type and Period (4)

Full Description

An archaeological assessment was undertaken within the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds. The work was concentrated mainly within the flood plain of the River Lark in the 'events area' and the playground. The assessment was designed to inform a Garden Management Plan for future applications for Scheduled Ancient Monument Consent work and an Archaeological Conservation Plan. The investigative work included topographic and geophysical surveys, palaeo-environmental assessment and test-pitting.

The survey work confirmed that archaeological deposits lay close to the current surface with layers of rubble encountered at depths of 100-250mm. In the main these were post-dissolution deposits associated with the post-medieval use of the gardens but structural remains of the Abbey including a bonded flint wall and a robbed wall trench (both also identified in the geophysics survey) were also found. The medieval ground level and finds-rich occupation debris deposits were recorded and evidence of the secondary channel, or mill-leat which formerly ran alongside the river and which is shown on early maps of the Abbey, was identified as both a landscape and archaeological feature.

The palaeo-environmental assessment identified well preserved pollen and organic deposits within the floodplain. These provided reliable radiocarbon dates from the Neolithic (2700-2900BC), Middle Saxon (C7th-8th) and early Medieval periods (C11th-12th). Pollen samples indicate the site was open sedge fen prior to the foundation of the abbey and the distribution of the peat showed a river course that fluctuated within the flood plain. Peat deposits sampled from the mill-leat close to the site of the putative mill (as shown on A.B Whittingham's conjectural plan of the Abbey) dated to C11th-12th and produced abundant cereal pollen demonstrating that crop processing had occurred close by (S1) (S2).

Sources/Archives (2)

  • <S1> Unpublished document: Gill, D.. 2009. Archaeological Assessment, Summary Report, Abbey Gardens Low Impact Evaluation, BSE 332.
  • <S2> Unpublished document: Stephens, C.. 2008. Geophysical Survey Report, Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds.

Finds (2)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Oct 23 2018 1:22PM

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