Skeletons among trove of Roman artefacts unearthed in West Suffolk villages

Skeletons dating from the late or post-Roman era have been unearthed near Barnham and Rougham ANL-140423-110047001
Skeletons dating from the late or post-Roman era have been unearthed near Barnham and Rougham ANL-140423-110047001
Have your say

Nine skeletons dating to the late or post-Roman era have been unearthed by archaeologists in a trove of ‘rich and varied’ finds in villages across West Suffolk.

The skeletons and other historical artefacts were discovered in farmland near Barnham, Bardwell, Pakenham and Rougham as part of achaeological surveys by Anglian Water.

They were carried out in preparation for a £9 million, 31km water pipeline from Barnham Cross to Anglian Water’s reservoir in Little Welnetham.

The five month dig unearthed eight skeletons near Barnham - two of which were buried with a brooch and knife - and one skeleton near Rougham believed to date from AD 300 to 500.

Jo Everitt, Anglian Water’s environment and heritage assessor, said the finds would ‘fill roughly half a shipping container’.

She said: “The team has been excavating around 30 different locations along 
a vast pipeline route and the discoveries have been numerous.

“Because the finds are so rich and varied in date, they will make a great display.”

A number of 6th Century Anglo-Saxon ‘grub huts’ were also discovered nearby which are believed to be cellars or under-floor spaces beneath Saxon buildings.

Evidence of several medieval houses from the 12th or 13th Centuries were found at Bardwell and Rougham.

Meanwhile, the team also uncovered Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age, Roman and medieval items as well as four cremation pits.

The various artefacts will be sent to specialists for an archaeological report.

Afterwards, the findings will be kept in a museum archive for future research.

Tom Phillips, of Oxford East Archaeology, who managed the excavation on behalf of Anglian Water, added: “Sometimes pipeline archaeology can be frustrating, you see such a narrow slice of history when the pipeline corridor is only eight-metres wide.

“It’s tantalising. We’ve been lucky here though.

“We’ve got fantastic groups of Neolithic flintwork, six Saxon buildings to learn from as we still don’t fully understand how these work, a potentially very interesting cemetery and enough medieval archaeology around the villages to actually say something about their development.”