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Excavation offers a glimpse into the Iron Age

Suffolk Archaeology Day - Finds made at the Fornham All Saints dig ANL-160305-091925009
Suffolk Archaeology Day - Finds made at the Fornham All Saints dig ANL-160305-091925009

Members of the public have been given a rare opportunity to witness archaeological excavations which have revealed Iron Age artefacts.

Digs have taken place just outside Fornham All Saints, off Mildenhall Road, since the middle of March, carried out by a team of 10.

Suffolk Archaeology Day - Archaeologists work on the site ANL-160305-091851009
Suffolk Archaeology Day - Archaeologists work on the site ANL-160305-091851009

And Suffolk Archaeology hosted an open day to give residents a chance to examine the pits and show off some of their latest finds.

The archaeological work is a collaboration between Suffolk Archaeology, housing developers Countryside Properties and contractors Breheny, ahead of 900 proposed new homes and link road.

So far more than 120 Iron Age storage pits have been found, which date back to 400 and 100BC, as well as a cremation burial from the Bronze Age.

Pottery, animal bones and work flints are among some of the items which have been recovered.

Senior project officer Joanna Caruth told the Bury Free Press: “Normally you would expect these storage pits to go with a settlement, and we haven’t actually found settlement evidence yet, but that is something which may come up as we dig some of the other areas.

“They are thought to be used for storing grain. They would put the grain in, seal it, and that will keep it in good condition for a certain length of time.

“Then, once the grain has come out, the pits then get used for rubbish and that sort of thing.”

She added part of the reason why the site was highlighted for archaeological work was its close location to the eastern end of the Fornham cursus, part of a large prehistoric monumental landscape.

“These Iron Age pits probably prove this was a really nice place for settlements,” she continued. “It is near the river, the Lark Valley all the way along it has archaeological sites, because these are the areas favoured for settlement and occupation — good farmland, access to water, and communication links.

“This is the first stage of quite a lot of work still to come.

“We know from previous experience that the people of Bury St Edmunds are very interested in their archaeology. I think because Bury is such an important archaeological and historical site itself, there is a raised awareness to these sorts of things.

Mike Green of Suffolk Archaeology and project officer, added: “We have gone through a lot of processes just to get to this stage.

“We have stripped off the top soil and sub soil to the archaeological level, and then we have people come in after that phase and look at the archaeology.

“It is actually quite a rare opportunity for people to see an archaeological site in progress. Normally it’s all shiny, all singing and all dancing, all excavated and people not actually working on the site.

“This is a really good way to emphasise the work that we do, seeing people excavating and actually seeing things as they come out of the ground.”

Excavations are set to continue over the coming months at the site.


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