Cropmark of Stoke church Ring-ditch excavation at Great Cornard Worked flint Bronze Age burial at Eriswell Framlingham castle from the air Pottery vessels in situ at Leiston Flint tool from Southery Ring-ditch excavation at Great Cornard Cropmarks in Stoke-by-Nayland

Ipswich Urban Archaeological Database (UAD)

In a project funded by Historic England, Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service has successfully created a map-linked, publicly accessible Urban Archaeological Database (UAD) for Ipswich. 

To search the HER records for Ipswich only, in the advanced search use the parish drop down box to select "Ipswich".

Ipswich has a rich archaeological heritage and is of international importance because of its status as one of only four Middle Saxon ‘emporia’ or ‘wic’ sites in England. The others are London, Southampton and York. These sites displayed urban characteristics in the AD 700s and were trading with continental Europe.

This project has collated and enhanced information relating to archaeological aspects of Ipswich Borough’s historic environment. Waterlogged remains along the waterfront relate to successive phases of reclamation of the River Orwell, and the town has an 8th-century street pattern, a 10th-century defensive circuit and was the centre of an important Anglo-Saxon pottery-making industry - the so-called 'Ipswich Ware'. The project has covered the whole of Ipswich Borough and included prehistoric, Roman and earlier Anglo-Saxon remains, relating to the contexts in which Ipswich developed, as well as the mediaeval suburban area and archaeology of the later expansion of the town.  

The project built on a previous collaboration between Suffolk County Council and Historic England which recently made the Ipswich 1974–1990 Excavation Archive freely accessible online via the Archaeology Data Service. The UAD sits within the Suffolk County Council Historic Environment Record and has a map and subject-based search interface to aid researchers.

Suffolk County Council are collaborated with Ipswich Borough Council to deliver the project.



The Butter market excavation and associated mapped “monument records”, Each polygon represents either an excavation area or that of an archaeological feature, real or interpreted, (Image: SCCAS)




What is a UAD

An Urban Archaeology Database (UAD), as a collated, comprehensive dataset, is a fundamentally useful tool for the positive management of the complex archaeological resources of centres such as Ipswich. The Ipswich UAD holds information on archaeological ‘monuments’ or ‘finds’ and, separately information on the ‘events’ which produce evidence (for example, excavations, evaluations, watching briefs and individual find spots). These are unlikely to have the same geographical definitions, and one ‘event’ can relate to many ‘monuments’ and vice versa. These records are tied to digitally mapped extents and are part of to the Historic Environment Record database, held by Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service. Separate ‘source’ records relating to both are also created, reports, maps, publications etc. If sources are held by SCCAS they are linked link the documents directly to the records.

This structure reflects current best practice in Historic Environment Record data recording, particularly facilitated by the capacity of relational databases and GIS to map and relate ‘monuments’ and ‘events’. Completion of the UAD programme is a priority under Historic England’s (formerly English Heritage) National Heritage Protection Programme.

The UAD draws multiple information sources together, notably: excavation reports, museum records, historic mapping and documentary records.

See also:

Early Prehistoric Ipswich

Later Prehistoric Ipswich

Roman Ipswich

Post Roman Ipswich

Deposit Modelling

The History of Archaeological Research in Ipswich

A Guide to Documentary Sources for Archaeological Reports for Ipswich

Ipswich, The Archaeological Implications of Development, 1974 (PDF)

Hannah Cutler, 2017

Suffolk County Council HER has records for all archaeological finds and excavations within the county. The Ipswich UAD is a part of this database, with increased detail. This image shows Monument, Event, Source and Find records, (Image: SCCAS)

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