Monument record FRS 001 - Barbers Point (Sax)

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Significant enclosed Middle Saxon occupation, including evidence of structures, inhumation burials, features and finds, on Barbers point.


Grid reference Centred TM 4321 5729 (113m by 133m)
Map sheet TM45NW


Type and Period (13)

Full Description

Significant amount of enclosed Middle Saxon occupation, including evidence of structures, features and finds, on (& adjoining) Barbers point.
1907: bronze tweezers decorated with centred roundels, circa 5.5 cms long, with wire attachment loop. Excavated by Aldeburgh Literary Society in 1907 from mainly Rom site (S1)(S3). For 1907 excavations also see (S4).
A body sherd of Sax stamped ware amongst material from General Pitt Rivers collection labelled `Banks of the Alde, Suffolk' or `Island, Alde River' August 11th 1870 ALF (Augustus Lane Fox, as the General was then named)(S1). Probably from this site - see Rom.
2003: Geophysical and Palaeoenvironmental survey results see Rom.
2004: excavation of two trenches (1 & 2) - details in (S4).
2006: excavation of further two trenches (3&4) - details in (S4).
Finds from the 2004/2006 excavations included an enclosed (2 phases) area containing rectlinear post hole buildings, one of which may be a church or chapel (also 2 radiocarbon dated inhumations) and an amount of Ipswich Ware (over 90 sherds), a sherd of North French black ware (also MSax).

2010 Excavations: The River Alde Saxon Heritage Project was commissioned by the Aldeburgh and District Local History Society following the award of a grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This project was designed to examine the significance of Barber’s Point during the Middle Saxon period (AD 650 - 850). The site of Barber’s Point, on the north bank of the River Alde, is strategically positioned on what would then have been an island. The 2010 excavations were designed to further investigate a partly revealed post-hole structure and to see if the burials encountered in previous excavations continued to the north. Middle Saxon remains of at least two post-hole structures and a further nine graves were identified. Six of these graves held surviving human bone which has been radiocarbon dated to the 7th and early 8th centuries AD. The six burials comprised an older juvenile, a sub-adult, two young adult males, and two female middle-aged or older individual - previous excavations revealed a young ?female and an unsexed sub adult or young adult. Burials within settlements are characteristic of the Christian conversion period, but the burial rite was very variable with some individual placed within hollowed-out tree-trunks and coffins, one within a shroud, while others had stones placed under their bodies. The inner of the two large Middle Saxon enclosude ditches was exposed. This ditch cut at right-angles to a smaller, internal Middle Saxon ditch which was cut by one of the outlying graves, suggesting a complex sequence of expansion of the settlement enclosure.
After the abandonment of the Middle Saxon settlement in the 9th century, the site saw occasional use during the Late Saxon, Medieval and post-medieval periods.
Prehistoric, Roman and Medieval to Post-medieval activity was present and is recorded under FRS 001 "Roman settlement debris and Prehistoric and Medieval finds at Barbers Point".
(See S5 Excavation Report).

2013 Excavations: The fourth and final part of the archaeological investigations to focus on uncovering the remaining area of the cemetery and the relationship between the saxon burials and surrounding enclosure ditches. Touching the Tide (a Heritage Lottery Fund Landscape Partnership Scheme) was a major supporter of the excavation. The 2013 excavations opened up an area to reveal the rest of the cemetery and a further nine graves were identified. Radiocarbon dating obtained from the recent human skeleton samples suggest a date rang from the beginning of the 7th to the 9th centuries AD, indicating that Barber's Point was in use from the Early to the Middle Saxon periods. The dating evidence suggests that the burial sequence started with a grave of cAD 600 in which a young individual was interred, probably female and of about 16 years of age. At her left ankle was placed a wooden box represented by a scatter of iron fittings preserving traces of maple wood from which the box had been made. Also preserved in the iron corrosion were traces of fine fabric, some of it pleated, suggesting that four different garments or soft furnishings had been placed over the box. Inside the box was an iron lift key, hoops of iron wire (some of which were decorated with beads), a spindle whorl and a short iron rod around which thread had been wound, an Iron Age terret ring, fragments of Roman glass, a lump of amber and a pierced fossil. The most intriguing item was a near complete panther cowrie shell which would have originaed from the Red Sea. During the course of the next century a further 10 graves were dug in a linear arrangement, mainly either side of the founding grave. One of the burials was of a five year old child who was placed with a pierced Roman coin, probably on a necklace. At the end of the line of graves was a 8th century burial. Of particular note was the young age of the nine individuals revealed in the 2013 excavations. Four were children under 10 and five were teenagers or young adults. To the north and east of the main cemetery was a complex arrangement of enclosure and internal ditches that probably reflect the expansion and rearrangement of the settlement (S6).

Also prehistoric, Roman and Medieval recorded under FRS 001 "Roman settlement debris and Prehistoric and Medieval finds at Barbers Point".

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <S1> (No record type): Longden, D.. Longden D, letter re Pitt Rivers collection from Suffolk, July 1991.
  • <M1> Unpublished document: Suffolk Archaeological Service. Parish file. Parish file: (S1)(S3).
  • <S2> (No record type): Ganz C, PSIA, 13, 1907, (1), 24-32, fig.
  • <S3> (No record type): Aldeburgh Literary Society, Account of `Excavations of "A Sandy Mound" (Barber's Point), Aldeburgh, .
  • <S4> Unpublished document: Meredith, J.. 2007. Archaeological Excavation Report, Barbers Point, Friston, FRS 001.
  • <S5> Unpublished document: Meredith, J.. 2012. Archaeological Excavation, River Alde Saxon Heritage Project, Barber's Point, Friston (Excavations 2010) FRS 001.
  • <S6> Unpublished document: Meredith, J.. 2015. Excavation, Barber's Point, Friston, Aldeburgh, Suffolk (Excavations 2013).

Finds (24)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (6)

Record last edited

Nov 19 2019 2:38PM

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