Sudbury: Fragments of pottery reveal insight into Saxon and medieval settlement in town

The Sudbury Community Big Dig event at the Croft on Friday.

The Sudbury Community Big Dig event at the Croft on Friday. - Credit: Archant

A community big dig in Sudbury over the weekend has helped to shed light on the town’s history, with finds including Saxon pottery.

About 35 test pits across Sudbury and into Ballingdon were excavated and more than 100 volunteers were involved, with roles including everything from digging to making cups of tea.

The big dig – organised by the Sudbury Society, the Sudbury History Society and the Sudbury Museum Trust – has been under the supervision of archaeologists from Cambridge University’s Access to Archaeology headed by Dr Carenza Lewis.

She is known for her appearances on Channel 4’s Time Team and on the BBC’s The Great British Story.

John Newman, a freelance archaeologist working with Dr Lewis, said the dig had been “very successful”.


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On Friday, schoolchildren involved in digging about five pits on the Croft, near St Gregory’s Church, came across Saxon and medieval pottery. Also referring to the pits in gardens across Sudbury and Ballingdon, Mr Newman said: “We have got a whole range of pottery finds which are telling us all about Sudbury with middle and late Saxon settlement – from the 8th Century through to the Doomsday Book period – and we can see the town growing in the medieval period.”

He said the population dropped off in about 1340 because of the Black Death and then in the late medieval Tudor period areas started expanding again. “The pottery shows us a thriving town,” he said.

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Andrew Tate, of Ballingdon Street, was one of those who volunteered to have a test pit in his garden. He said: “Clearly Sudbury is a historic town and we were curious to know what might be under the garden.”

Councillor John Nunn, who has been involved with the project, said: “Everyone has enjoyed it despite the bad weather on Saturday.”

The finds will now go back to Cambridge to be analysed. For updates visit www.access.arch.cam.ac.uk

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