Evaluation and excavation at Creeting St Mary, Suffolk

A small archaeological excavation and monitoring was undertaken on land to the the south-east of All Saints Road, Creeting St Mary, Suffolk in January and February 2018 ahead of a proposed residential development. The project was commissioned by the developer Hart Build Ltd…

Trial trench at Creeting St MaryThe site, part of an open field lying to the north of the historic village core and south of a medieval/post-medieval farm complex, was of interest as a trial trench evaluation had previously identified widespread evidence of medieval agricultural activity, and some evidence for medieval settlement in the wider vicinity of the site, characterised by northeast-southwest ditches, northwest-southeast ditches and two pits dating to between the 13th-14th centuries. An excavation area of 268.5sqm covering one of the proposed house plots was subsequently stripped and a Watching Brief was maintained over other parts of the development.

The fieldwork has recorded a well-preserved series of features and finds. The earliest evidence is a small Roman finds assemblage, consisting of a single pottery sherd and a few pieces of mostly abraded ceramic building material, which while being generally recovered from later ditches suggests a building at not too great a distance. Despite Creeting being a pre-Norman conquest Domesday settlement evidence of Saxon activity was slim. This suggests that the earlier settlement was located elsewhere, perhaps closer to the church.

The majority of the deposits on the site related to the previously identified medieval phase of activity and consisted of evidence of typical domestic, light industrial and agricultural activity, dated by a finds assemblage of mainly 13th-14th century date but also with a lower quantity of 11th-12th century material. The bulk of the finds retrieved comprised a relatively large assemblage of pottery, alongside lower levels of animal bone, shell, ceramic building material, fired clay, lavastone and post-medieval glass and nails.

Deposits of slag and ferrous spheroids suggest nearby smithing in the medieval period while the fired clay fragments suggest hearths and oven domes which, along with bones of predominantly sheep, but also cattle, pigs, fowl, fish and equids, are typical of a domestic and agricultural setting. The animal bone is characteristic of a medieval assemblage.

Creeting St Mary site plan

The main phase of medieval features recorded on the site are likely representative of both a mixture of drainage ditches and property/field boundaries, slightly removed from the focus of settlement with which the finds would have been associated. There is very limited evidence for structural activity or large pits, and none of the in-situ­ hearths or ovens typically associated with a medieval house plot. Any such however is likely to be nearby, possibly to the northeast.The alignment of some of the ditches at right angles with All Saints Road, as well as parallel to it, suggest that they are related, and that the road is of some antiquity, running down to the church and the likely centre of the pre-Conquest settlement.

Evaluation reportExcavation report