What have we discovered about Rendlesham?
Before the Anglo-Saxons
While the Anglo Saxon finds may be the most significant they make up only 24% of the total objects from the detecting survey. There is a background of later prehistoric activity, as one might expect along a major river valley, including worked flints, occasional pottery sherds and a few possible small enclosures in the magnetometry results. A larger D-shaped enclosure in Park Field was Iron Age, backfilled in the mid-1st century.
At least three Roman sites have been identified from the finds, two being probable farmsteads in use throughout the Roman period but abandoned before the 5th century. The third lies within the core area of Anglo-Saxon activity and the type of finds might suggest an official presence here in the late 4th and early 5th century.
A pyramid-shaped fitting from a sword scabbard and beads from a necklace.
Some of the 7th century objects are of outstanding quality, made of gold with garnet settings and comparable to pieces found in the richest Anglo-Saxon burials such as mound 1 at Sutton Hoo. The number of Anglo-Saxon coins is also remarkable, making this one of the wealthiest sites of the period known in England. Even the food debris found in the excavation supports this, with the evidence of sparrowhawk and teal bones suggesting the aristocratic sport of falconry and young cattle, perhaps from feasting on expensive veal.
Many objects that suggest metalworking were found in one area. The evidence suggests highly skilled craft workers were producing dress fittings and jewellery in precious metals at Rendlesham in the late 6th and 7th centuries.
All stages of the bronze working process are represented in the finds including lead models for casting moulds, casting sprues, and discarded unfinished objects. The products include everyday objects such as buckles, pins and box fittings as well more elaborate pieces.
A Large Complex Settlement
The Anglo-Saxon finds cover about 50 hectares (120 acres). To the north 5th to 6th century settlement and cremation burials have been confirmed by the test excavation and the detected finds also suggest inhumation burials. The main area of metal working evidence is to the south, near to the densest area of wealthy 7th century finds. Here the excavation confirmed that there are surviving layers of rubbish and features of this date, probably close to a high status residence, perhaps the possible large timber hall on the cropmarks.