How have we surveyed Rendlesham?
Preliminary metal detecting work in 2008-2009 showed the fields that were being looted contained high status Anglo-Saxon objects. The survey was extended to cultivated fields over the whole estate, an area of 160 hectares (400 acres), to establish just how far the artefacts were spread. It was carried out by a group of four skilled detectorists who have also worked as archaeologists. Each member of the team has spent on average 170 days a year on the survey since 2009.
The survey recovered material from the plough soil which had either been dropped on the ground in the past or had been ploughed up from below ground archaeological features. The exact location of each find was recorded using a hand-held GPS device. This information is held on the project GIS software which allows the density and distribution of the artefacts to be mapped. Just under 4,000 objects finds have been found by the detectorists and recorded at Suffolk County Council’s Archaeological Service, where they are identified, catalogued, photographed and drawn.
Anglo-Saxon gold bracteate (pendant) with a rim of beaded wire and decorated with repoussé decoration, showing an interlaced animal with its head underneath the area where the loop would have been originally.
We have also undertaken geophysical survey, specifically magnetometry in areas where the detectorists had discovered Anglo-Saxon finds. This revealed many pit features in one field and ditched enclosures elsewhere. The features on the magnetometry coincided with the main concentrations of metal detected finds. They also confirm historic landscape features such as a small medieval green as shown on an 18th century estate map.
The available aerial photographs have been examined for cropmarks as part of a larger project (National Mapping Programme, funded by Historic England)
One discovery, using both the cropmark and the magnetometry, is a possible large timber building, perhaps an Anglo-Saxon hall.
Magnetometry and plot of cropmarks in the area of a possible building