Case Study (Desk-based Assessment): Princes Street, Ipswich, Suffolk

Suffolk Archaeology prepared an archaeological Desk Based Assessment in advance of a planning application for proposed office development on an area of open ground off of Princes Street, to the south-west of Ipswich town centre …

The DBA, by including an examination of the Suffolk Historic Environment Record (HER) and a historic map and documentary search, established that the site lay within an area of former marsh on the edge of the River Orwell, just outside the known Anglo-Saxon and medieval extent of the town of Ipswich.

Site as shown on Hodskinson's map of 1783

The presence of evidence relating to the Prehistoric, Roman, Saxon, medieval and post-medieval periods was established from the historical records and Suffolk HER. In particular, the site of a bridge recorded on post-medieval maps, but possibly with medieval origins, was noted close to the eastern boundary of the site. This was associated with a trackway that ran across the site itself and was later formalised as Friars Bridge Road. This trackway may have originally consisted of a raised earthwork causeway marked by drainage ditches. The site of a probably post-medieval farmstead associated with this trackway also lay within the site and in the 19th century the site contained a cattle market, ironworks and a drill hall/ice-rink, all of which were demolished during the 20th century.

Site as shown on White's map of 1867

The DBA concluded that there was potential for buried evidence dating from the prehistoric period onwards, primarily relating to the exploitation of the former marsh and meadowland, to be present within the site and that, despite 19th/20th century activity, archaeological deposits could be preserved intact beneath floodplain deposits and/or imported/made up ground. The DBA thought that deposits could be impacted upon by development proposals and advised that further investigative works, such as trial trench evaluation, could be required by the planning authority to positively determine the presence of archaeological remains.