Monument record WLG 038 - Land north of Fenton's Farm, Great Whelnetham

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Several Roman graves and a number of pits which were generally undated or contained sparse Roman pottery.


Grid reference Centred TL 8788 6005 (16m by 28m)
Map sheet TL86SE


Type and Period (8)

Full Description

2017: Evaluation identified a number of features including pits and graves. The pits were generally undated and a few contained sparse Roman pottery. One of the pits contained a small fragment of copper alloy Roman bracelet. Partially inter-cutting graves were recorded. One of the graves included the significant proportion of a central Gaulish Samianware cup, dated to the 2nd century AD. Subsequent analysis recorded the skeleton in this grave as relatively poorly-preserved, highly fragmented probably an individual between teenage and 20years old. Very small flakes of copper alloy and iron were also recorded. Two other graves preserve in situ inhumation burials. There were two other cuts, possibly graves, but appeared significantly disturbed and no evidence of human remains were recorded. The earliest find comprised a single flint blade, potentially of early Neolithic origin (S1).

2018: Excavation. An archaeological excavation on the S edge of a known Roman settlement identified three phases of Roman activity. The first comprised an extensive scatter of quarry pits to exploit the natural sand geology, probably associated with the construction of parts of the Roman settlement. The second phase comprised a single large boundary ditch that traversed the site, potentially forming a S boundary to the Roman settlement. The boundary ditch contained a rich array of finds including a complete brooch, several coins and pottery in good condition, with cross-joining fragments recovered from segments along its length. Mould-decorated and stamped Samian ware suggested deposition and backfilling in the second half of the 2nd century and is associated with a range of colour-coated beakers and local coarse wares. The last phase of Roman activity comprised a cemetery; 54 inhumation burials and a single cremation were recorded within the excavated area at varying depths, including examples cut into the natural sand, the backfilled deposits of quarry pits and the boundary ditch. The graves are generally unadorned, but two included bone combs that suggested they date to the late 4th century. There was a very high proportion of deviant burials within the cemetery, with potentially over a third being decapitation burials (Fig. 176) and another third placed in non-supine positions (prone, flexed and crouched). The decapitation burials included several examples with skulls placed at their feet, or adjacent to the legs, and possibly some with additional skulls placed in the graves. Initial analysis suggested the burial population was middle-aged to older, with a near equal proportion of male to female graves, and extensive pathological conditions resulting from physical and nutritional stress. However, a single three- to four-year-old was revealed which had also been decapitated with the head placed between its legs; another adult burial had the skull of a dog placed on its feet.
Included in the Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History annual round up of individual finds and discoveries for 2018. (S2)

Full Excavation Report to Follow.

Sources/Archives (2)

  • <S1> Unpublished document: Muir, T. and Higgs, K.. 2017. An Archaeological Evaluation, Land North of Fenton's Farm, Stanningfield Road, Great Whelnetham.
  • <S2> Article in serial: Minter, F., Rolfe, J. and Saunders, A.. 2019. Archaeology in Suffolk 2018, Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History.

Finds (9)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Jun 24 2020 3:23PM

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