Our History

Suffolk Archaeology CIC was established in February 2015 through the divestment of the Field Team of Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service. At the same time the two offices in Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich were transferred, together with all staff, projects and archives, to our current premises in Needham Market.

The County Council Years

1970's - 1980's

The Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service was first created in 1974 with a remit to conserve and record the county’s heritage. The Service originally carried out research or rescue projects as funding allowed on an ad hoc basis, such as a series of important excavations across Ipswich in the 1970’s and 1980’s and the important excavations of Middle Saxon Brandon during the 1980’s.

9th century church at Brandon, Suffolk

1990's - 2000's

The Suffolk County Council Archaeology Field Team in 2003

The introduction of Planning Policy Guidance 16 (PPG 16) in 1990 brought nationwide changes to the archaeological profession in the 1990’s. By making archaeology a material consideration in the planning process it enshrined the principle that prospective developers were responsible for both the initial archaeological investigation of a site and, if appropriate, its ‘preservation by record’ via archaeological excavation and publication. This change rapidly led to the development of the Field Team as a self-financing, contracting service for private and public clients, separate from its sister organisation the Conservation Team whose role became the advising of local authorities, the maintenance of the Suffolk Historic Environment Record and curation of the county's archaeological archives.


The early Anglo-Saxon 'horse and rider' burial from RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk

By 2014 the Field Team had an established track record of being the dominant archaeological contractor in the county, with an extensive wealth of local knowledge and experience in carrying out all manner of projects, from the smallest and shortest of watching brief surveys to the long-running field investigations of extensive multi-period archaeological landscapes such as at Flixton quarry or the RAF bases of Mildenhall and Lakenheath. While maintaining a focus on Suffolk the Field Team had also expanded to carry out a variety of projects in the neighbouring counties. This success led to the County Council’s decision to outsource the Field Team as an independent Community Interest Company, Suffolk Archaeology.


Suffolk Archaeology CIC now regularly carries out over 150 projects a year with a dedicated team of c.30 permanent staff, many of whom have transferred their skills and experience from long periods of service at the County Council. The majority of our projects remain development related, helping our clients meet the archaeological obligations placed upon them during the planning process, although our status as a Community Interest Company has meant that we retain a strong commitment to promoting the heritage and archaeology of Suffolk to the wider public.

The Suffolk Archaeology team at the Hands on Heritage Centre, Tunstall. May 2016

Suffolk Archaeology’s new freedom as an independent company in dedicated premises with improved facilities, combined with its inheritance of the experienced staff and project archives of the former Field Team, means that it is now able to offer an ever more efficient and cost-effective service to the commercial sector in dealing with heritage issues caused by proposed development, whilst always maintaining its determination to carry out top quality archaeological investigations and maximising the benefit of such works to as broad an audience as possible.

Plan of excavations in 2015 at Culford School, Suffolk

Our Logo Explained

The Suffolk Archaeology logo is based on the Boss Hall brooch, which was found within a burial during excavation by the Suffolk County Council Field Team in 1990 at the Boss Hall Industrial Estate, Ipswich. This ornate piece, decorated with cloisonné garnets and gold, dates to the later 7th century and was one of several jewellery items and accessories buried with the individual, an assemblage that suggests she was part of an elite social group.

The site has been published by the Society for Medieval Archaeology as 'Early medieval (Late 5th-Early 8th centuries AD) Cemeteries at Boss Hall and Buttermarket, Ipswich, Suffolk' Monograph 27

The Boss Hall brooch. Photograph by Doug Atfield, © Ipswich Borough Council

Photograph by Doug Atfield, © Ipswich Borough Council