Medieval pottery, jewellery and building materials have been unearthed in Bury St Edmunds. Archaeologists from Suffolk County Council were called in to work on the site by Cocksedge Building Contractors, who plan to develop the area to provide housing.
Excavation work has been underway for three weeks in an undisclosed location. The archaeologists uncovered evidence of medieval buildings in the area with mortar and flint footings used to support timber beams.
Andrew Tester, project officer for Suffolk County Council, told the BBC, “We know a lot about the centre of the town, but not about this part.”
The site appears to represent an area of craft working and manufacturing that flourished between the 12th -16th centuries, presumably supplying goods to shops and stalls closer to the centre of the very busy medieval town.
Particular features of the site include the remains of a series of barrels that have been sunken into the ground and have become coated with mortar. It is thought that these were used to store lime putty which was used to create mortar, plaster and lime-wash. “It’s very exciting,” added Mr. Tester. “Hopefully we’ll be able to find more of these barrel wells and find out definitively what they were used for.”
Some of the findings include large amounts of pottery, several buckles and coins. The site has also produced a lot of horn cores of sheep, goat and cattle. These might be evidence that tanning was taking place – horn cores tend to be left over when animal hides have been prepared for tanning.
Councillor Guy McGregor Portfolio Holder for Roads, Transport and Planning said: “These excavations are helping to fill a gap in our knowledge about Bury St Edmunds’ history. There are large areas of land within the medieval town of which virtually nothing is known. Chances to record sites like this that have not been disturbed by later development are quite rare and this is proving a fascinating site.”