Monument record HGH 055 - Chilton Leys, Stowmarket, Phase 1, Phase 2 and 3.

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Roman pottery kilns and corn-driers, a high-status Saxon cemetery as well as medieval ditches, post-medieval field boundaries and an isolated Bronze Age pit.


Grid reference Centred TM 0351 5961 (1406m by 1069m) (2 map features)
Map sheet TM05NW


Type and Period (40)

Full Description

2015: Phase 1 Excavation on the west side of the site identified two Romano-British pottery kilns, two T-shaped corn-driers, and a high-status Anglo-Saxon cemetery. Evidence of simple, Romano-British post-built structures and two medieval pottery kilns - thought to be indicative of small-scale 'cottage' industry - were also encountered.
Five phases of activity were identified overall:
Late Neolithic/Late Bronze Age was represented by two distinct pit clusters and dispersed pits/postholes. Three possible cremation burials were found in the south-eastern corner, one of which was identified in the earlier evaluation. They all contained charcoal-rich fills and one contained cremated bone which suggests wither a cremation pit or cooking pit. Although devoid of datable material the location of these features suggest that they may have been prehistoric, however a Romano-British date cannot be ruled out. The Romano-British (mid 1st-early 2nd century AD) phase was defined by a series of ditches and gullys, many of which appeared to form the precursor of the subsequent 2nd century enclosure system, as well as three pottery kilns (one of which was identified in the earlier evaluation), two corn-dryers and post holes. A Roman oven-type feature was identified, this was cut by a pit containing an articulated inhumation burial of a neonate or young infant. Phase 3 saw the establishment of an Anglo-Saxon settlement with evidence of three Sunken-Featured Buildings, three burnt flint pits nearby, as well as an inhumation cemetery of 38 graves; a significant number of which yielded grave goods although no bones survived. A medieval rectilinear system of enclosure ditches/gullies were recorded along with two 13th to 15th century pottery kilns. Features dating to the post-medieval period comprised pits and ditches/gullies, several possible quarry pits, and a system of linear plough furrows (S1).

2016 Geophysical Survey extending east across the site recorded under ONS 012

2016: Phase 2 and 3 Trial trench evaluation over the geophysics identified a number of ditches, of which were post-medieval field boundaries and trackways identified by the previous geophysical survey, as well as medieval ditches with 79 sherds of pottery, the pottery was found in associated with animal bone, fired clay and oyster shell. Several enclosure ditchs contained sparse medieval pottery with CBM, animal bone, fired clay and iron fragments. The earliest feature was an isolated Bronze Age pit containing some pottery, burnt flint and fired clay. Sparse struck flint was found within a few later features. 7 fragments of Roman tile were found in a ditch. An Early-Middle Saxon sherd was found in a ditch with CBM and aninal bone (S2)(S3).

2018: Report to follow. Summary below.
Following geophysical survey and extensive trial trenching in 2016 and 2017 on 30ha of land at Chilton Leys, three excavation areas totalling c.3.1ha targeted the results of the preceding fieldwork. Prehistoric activity was represented by a Bronze Age pit in the S and a cluster of small pits or post-holes and a nearby ditch in the central part of the site, all of which contained probable Bronze Age pottery. The earliest significant phase of activity was represented by a system of parallel trenches in the N. Little dating evidence was recovered, but the trenches were assumed to relate to Roman or early medieval agricultural land use. A medieval hollow trackway, running between Shepherd’s Farm to the N and Chilton Leys Farm to SW, crossed former agricultural ditches which indicated a significant change of land use. Three distinct areas of medieval occupation (dated provisionally to the 12th–14th centuries) were identified adjacent to the trackway. In the N, a substantial ditched enclosure surrounded a number of large quarry pits and smaller rubbish/cesspits. No clear structural evidence was encountered though it is possible that these remains constituted a moated farmhouse, perhaps the original late 15th-century site of nearby Shepherd’s Farm. A second, smaller ditched enclosure, in the SW, was subdivided by shallow ditches suggestive of a medieval toft and adjoining kitchen garden. An apparently unenclosed medieval settlement area was located in the central part of the site. Several small linear ditches aligned perpendicular to the trackway might have defined house plots, and nearby ditches possibly defined a rectilinear field system. A significant quantity of medieval pottery provided evidence for domestic activity in this location.
Included in the Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History annual round up of individual finds and discoveries for 2018. (S4)

2020: Prehistoric occupation was represented by an isolated Middle Bronze Age pit and part of an Earliest Iron Age field/enclosure system with associated pits and postholes. A series of nineteen parallel trenches, arranged in two groups, are provisionally dated to the Roman period. They are interpreted as cultivation beds (perhaps for vines) or a form of hollow drainage. Late Anglo-Saxon activity (9th-10th century) was demonstrated by some widely dispersed pits and ditches, with no clear evidence for associated buildings or structures. Intensive medieval occupation (11th-late 13th century) was represented by a substantial 'moated site' (of uncertain function), a smaller enclosure and associated field system interpreted as a possible 'toft and croft', and a small, unenclosed settlement. The settlement areas were spread out along the line of a medieval (or earlier) road - part of a more extensive local route between Dagworth and Burford Bridge. The road was unsurfaced and in places existed as a hollow-way. The site was largely abandoned at the end of the 13th century, although the road continued in use. Following the construction of nearby Shepherd's Farm and Chilton Leys Farm in the late 15th century, fields were laid out on either side of the road, and roadside ditches were dug or enlarged. The site remained in agricultural use through the post-medieval and modern periods, with field patterns remaining virtually unchanged until the 1970s (S5).

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <S1> Unpublished document: Bull, K., Mustchin, A. and Wilson, L.. 2015. Archaeological Assessment and Updated Project Design, Phase 1, Chilton Leys, Stowmarket, Suffolk.
  • <S2> Unpublished document: Bull, K., Wilson, L., Mustchin, A. and Light, T.. 2017. Archaeological Evaluation, Wider Site, Chilton Leys, Stowmarket, Suffolk.
  • <S3> Article in serial: Minter, F. and Saunders, A.. 2018. Archaeology in Suffolk 2017, Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History.
  • <S4> Article in serial: Minter, F., Rolfe, J. and Saunders, A.. 2019. Archaeology in Suffolk 2018, Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History.
  • <S5> Unpublished document: Heard, K.. 2020. Archaeological Excavation - Land at Chilton Leys (Phase 2) Stowmarket, Suffolk, Post-Excavation Assesment and Updated Project Design.

Finds (30)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (6)

Record last edited

Sep 23 2022 10:14AM

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