Felixstowe: Archaeologists shed new light on town’s past
- Credit: Archant
Excavations on land where developers hope to build a superstore and 200 homes have shown that people have lived and worked on the site for more than 4,000 years.
Archaeologists have found evidence that the Walton Green site at Felixstowe had been occupied by Neolithic families, who would have lived up to 6,000 years ago – between 4000BC and 2500BC.
Later the land was a large burial site with ritual cremations carried out in the Bronze Age, and then lived on and used for farming in the Iron Age, between 800BC and the arrival of the Romans in AD43.
It provides a different view of Felixstowe, widely regarded as a Victorian and Edwardian resort, and before this as a small clifftop settlement with roots stretching back to its time as a Roman military base.
Archaeologists who excavated the 30-acre site in Walton High Street say the area has good potential for helping further research, but it is uncertain whether they will be allowed to carry out a further dig.
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The Walton Green Partnership has submitted plans for a 30,000sq ft Tesco supermarket, 200 homes, business units, live/work properties, community building, café and allotments on the land.
In their archaeological evaluation report, Oxford Archaeology describes in detail the finds in each of the 91 trenches dug.
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Among the finds were evidence of cremations and burial barrows, along with postholes from buildings, flint blades and tools, and nearly six kg of pottery fragments, most from thousands of years ago.
Archaeologist Jonathan House said: “Of particular archaeological interest was the discovery of elements of a Early/Middle Bronze Age ritual funerary landscape that included a well preserved putative barrow and associated features such as secondary cremations.
“Evidence for an agricultural landscape, along with possible beginnings of settlement in the form of post holes and possible round houses, was also recovered.
“Occupation of the site appears to have continued into the late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age with the presence of at least one settlement area with a good, well preserved assemblage of pottery and other finds directly associated with settlement features.
“Subsequently it appears that low level activity, predominantly agricultural in nature, continued on the site into the Post Medieval period.”
The evidence for ritual funerals during the Bronze Age was of particular significance both locally and at a regional level.
Also of interest was the sudden change from using the land as a place for burials to using it for farming.
Mr House said: “The pit, and the finds of Neolithic date within tree throws, as well as the background scatter of flint objects, may suggest some tree clearance during the period; although it may be more likely that people were utilising the hollows left by uprooted trees or that the open hollows have preserved isolated pockets of material from an otherwise well used landscape.
“In either case it is clear that the landscape was being visited or even settled on at least a transient or seasonal basis.”