Monument record DUN 025 - Dunwich Greyfriars Evaluation, 1999 (Med)

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Evaluation report revealed town ditch, various pits, location and dimensions of a church, and wall footings.


Grid reference Centred TM 4779 7041 (134m by 140m)
Map sheet TM47SE


Type and Period (6)

Full Description

The earliest discrete features (pits and ditches) were pre-friary in date (late 11th to late 13th centuries). From the limited evaluation it was difficult to assess the nature of the activity that these features represented. However, the quantity and quality of the finds would suggest that they represented more than a manuring scatter. The location of the site outside the town defences does not preclude occupation and some clearance may have been necessary prior to the construction of the friary.
The evaluation results have also confirmed the location of the town ditch, with vestigial bank deposits surviving to the east and continuing on under the precinct wall itself. In addition, friary demolition layers were found to fill a shallow depression coinciding with the line of the ditch, suggesting that, at least in part, it had remained open as a shallow feature during the life of the friary itself.
Generally, the remains of the friary buildings had been reduced down to footing level, with only limited floor bedding surfaces and wall stubs surviving (in the area excavated by Norris in the 1930’s). However, it was clear that in an area excavation it would be possible to recover an overall ground-plan and phase the site from the surviving footings. While the exact position of the main claustral ranges was not positively identified in the trenches, a series of north-to-south and east-to-west orientated footings suggested the presence of substantial ranges of buildings south of the well-defined church. In addition, a garderobe (finally backfilled during the 17th/18th centuries) may represent the location of the reredorter in the south claustral range, while a line of burials (somewhat detached from the church) may have been located in the S.E. corner of the cloister walk.
A total of 94 graves were recorded, with intervening areas of fill which almost certainly represented further burials. The main concentration appeared to be in the church itself (nave and west end of the chancel) with further concentrations to the south, west and north of the church. The full extent of the cemetery was not recorded due to the limits of the trenching, but the total cemetery population must run into several hundred. The condition of the bone in the burials was good.
Evidence was also recorded for the Dissolution demolition of friary buildings, including large quantities of melted lead waste which suggests the processing of roof and window lead was carried out on site. In addition, a significant quantity of painted window glass was recovered along with tooled limestone masonry from at least three perpendicular style windows. (S1)

Excavation at a medieval friary produced 9.2 kg of iron smithing slags. The recovery of a limited range of slag types and the fragmented nature of these suggest that iron smithing was not carried out in the area excavated. The 6.7 kg of lead waste probably derives from a single period of demolition at the time of the dissolution. (S2)

Sources/Archives (2)

  • <S1> Unpublished document: Boulter S. 1999. Evaluation Dunwich Greyfriars.
  • <S2> Unpublished document: Dunngworth, D.. 1999. Assessmnet of Iron Working Slags and Lead waste from Dunwich Greyfriars, Suffolk.

Finds (3)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Nov 7 2022 1:41PM

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