Great Whelnetham’s parish chairman urges developers to show Roman finds

Evidence has been found that the Erskine Lodge site and nearby land  was occupied as far back as 70AD  ANL-140826-154145009
Evidence has been found that the Erskine Lodge site and nearby land was occupied as far back as 70AD ANL-140826-154145009

The chairman of a parish council has appealed to developers to share archeological finds with people living around a controversial site.

Villagers in Great Whelnetham and Sicklesmere objected to Havebury Housing Partnership’s plans for 58 homes on the site of the old Erskine Lodge sheltered accommodation and land nearby.

The planning permission required an archeological survey which has revealed Roman artefacts and a burial on the site.

In fact, of 15 trenches in one phase of the study, only one did not have the pits, ditches and postholes found scattered across the site.

The report says: “Dating evidence was recovered from roughly half of the features exposed, the majority of which dated to the Roman period, ranging from the first century to fourth century AD.”

They found pottery from as far apart as the Nene Valley and Central Gaul (modern France or Luxemberg) along with charcoal and charred cereal grains in the trenches.

The pottery included sherds from amphora, beakers, bowls, jars, a flagon and a single mortarium – a dish used for pounding or mixing food – made in the Colchester area.

Some of the Gaulish Samian ware is described as in ‘good condition’

Suffolk Archeological Service is now calling for constant monitoring and recording during building work on the lodge site and a full excavation of the ‘phase 2’ site. It also urges public engagement.

Parish chairman Peter Royce supported that saying it would be wrong ‘tuck it away in a drawer’ instead of educating people.

“Let’s get some community involvement,” he said. “It’s our heritage. It would be good to maybe have an exhibition in the community centre.”

He said the developers of the Marham Park estate between Bury St Edmunds and Fornham All Saints had opened the site to visitors and shown what they had found.

Hundreds of visitors turned out to the excavation’s two open days there.

He added: “There has been a lot of ill feeling about this development but a little bit of good could come out of this.”

A Havebury spokeswoman said: “Following the recent archaeological finds as part of the trial trenching on land at the Erskine Lodge site, Havebury will continue to work closely with Allen Archaeology and Suffolk County Council.

“Subject to further findings, we will be in contact with the Parish Council to discuss findings and progress on site.”