Monument record EWL 037 - Roman and Saxon/Medieval activity, Elmswell Site 2

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Roman ditched enclosures and two kilns with a large associated assemblage of pottery, Saxon pits and SFBs, and a possible Saxon-Medieval timber-framed building.


Grid reference Centred TL 9955 6320 (483m by 419m) (3 map features)
Map sheet TL96SE


Type and Period (36)

Full Description

2016: Evaluation recorded archaeological features across the site. A putative ditched-enclosure containing a probable kiln of early Roman date was identified in the south-eastern part of the site. The substantial finds assemblage recovered suggests that the activity within this enclosure lay in the late 1st to 2nd centuries AD. Evidence of Saxon activity represented by a possible sunken featured building, two pits and a treethrow pit was identified in the western part of the site. The Evaluation also identified a series of boundary ditches of post-medieval/modern date in the northern, western and southern parts of the site (S1)(S2).

2018: Phase 2 evaluation identified a small number of archaeological remains, consisting of ditches and pits. No direct evidence of saxon occupation was encountered during this phase. In the souther part of the site, the presence of a ditch, albeit undated, in close proximity of the previously recorded Saxon sunken feature building, may be associated with this phase. The features, generally undated, ecnountered in the sout-east of the ssouthern area may be associated with the Early Roman pottery production activity previously recorded. A pit recorded in this area also contained a small quantity of pottery of probable high medieval date. The remaining features recorded in both the northern and southern parts of the site were undated or post-medieval/modern and demonstrate a general lack of concentrates areas of activity. In the farm north of the site several pits were identified, however, the lack of finds recovered from these features suggests that there is not a focus of activity in this area. A small number of post-medieval/modern ditches were identified across the whole site. Those recorded in the southern part correspond with field boundaries depicted on historic tithe amd Ordnance Survey maps dating between the 19th and 20th centuries, indictating the agricultural nature of land use (S4).

Descriptions of flint finds are broad, dating to a specific period bracket is ill-advised. However, they may be later Prehistoric, based on location and context, (S5).

2018: PXA and UPD: An archaeological excavation was undertaken in four areas targeting the results from previous trail trenching.
A small assemblage of residual struck flints suggest only transitory use of the site during earlier prehistoric periods (Middle Neolithic to Late Bronze Age). Two pits dated to the Earlier Iron Age suggest a degree of permanent occupation, of a limited nature.
In the Early Roman period (AD 60-100) the site was a focus for pottery production. Two adjacent kilns and an associated well were constructed close to the suggested course of a Roman road that corresponds to the eastern boundary of the site. The kilns were of similar clay construction, incorporating a ‘tongue’ pedestal. There were two principal kiln products – flagons in a distinctive white/buff fabric and coarse wares, especially black-surfaced jars. A large pottery assemblage, comprised mostly of wasters, was recovered from the kilns and the well, together with fragments of kiln furniture and associated environmental evidence. Two ditched enclosures and scattered pits in the same area of the site provide some evidence for contemporary occupation. Two Early Roman pits (also containing pottery wasters) at the west end of the site demonstrate more widespread occupation during the same period.
Pottery production ceased towards the end of the 1st century, after which the site seems to have been abandoned. A small pit containing pottery dated AD 150-300+ suggests that there was occasional use of the site during the mid/late Roman period.
During the Early/Middle Anglo-Saxon period (5th-7th century), a small settlement was established in the western half of the site. The settlement was represented by three definite and four possible sunken-featured buildings (SFBs), some associated pits (relatively rich in environmental evidence) and a possible boundary ditch.
A possible timber building (of earth-fast post construction) with an associated hearth was located north of the SFBs. Associated fragments of fired clay/daub with wattle and post impressions suggest destruction by fire. Currently undated, the postulated building might have been part of the Anglo-Saxon settlement or a later (medieval) farmstead.
Evidence for Roman, Anglo-Saxon and possible medieval occupation was sealed by a site-wide deposit of ‘subsoil’, probably the result of natural accumulation during a period of abandonment, with subsequent reworking during cultivation (medieval/early post-medieval). More recent (post-medieval) agriculture was represented by a series of north/south ditches, corresponding to field boundaries shown on 19th- and earlier 20th-century maps.
Post-medieval field boundaries were removed in the 1960s/1970s, and modern agriculture was represented by a site-wide layer of ploughsoil, forming the current ground surface. (S6)

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <S1> Unpublished document: Orellana, J.. 2016. Archaeological Evaluation, Land Adjoining Wetherden Road, Elmswell.
  • <S2> Article in serial: Minter, F. and Saunders, A.. 2018. Archaeology in Suffolk 2017, Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History.
  • <S3> Unpublished document: Tanner, J., and Gater, J.. 2016. Geophysical Survey Report: Land adjacent to Wetherden Road, Elmswell.
  • <S4> Unpublished document: Dyson, A.. 2018. Archaeological Evaluation Report: Land North and South of Wetherden Road, Elmswell.
  • <S5> Personal Correspondence: Cutler, Hannah. 2019. Personal Observations as part of the Enhancement of the Suffolk HER for the Palaeolithic & Mesolithic Periods project.
  • <S6> Unpublished document: Heard, K.. 2019. Archaeological Excavation: Land South of Wetherden Road, Elmswell.

Finds (59)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (5)

Record last edited

Sep 28 2022 12:01PM

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