Consolidated Support Complex and Family Support Complex, RAF Lakenheath
Eriswell, Suffolk

Site Code
ERL 116 & 139
OASIS Number
0
Site Type
Excavation
Period
Mesolithic, Anglo Saxon, Medieval,
Report Number
2006_179

Summary

Archaeological excavations at two sites on the east side of Boston Drive at RAF Lakenheath identified extensive Middle Saxon occupation consisting of field systems, pits and a distinctive pit group. Finds of Ipswich Ware pottery and evidence from the animal bone showing food waste, butchery, milk and wool production and possibly horncore working along with the evidence of the slag for a possibly smithy suggest both domestic and industrial activity with settlement very nearby and mixed farming being carried out. This is the most extensive and intensive area of Middle Saxon occupation so far identified at RAF Lakenheath, other lesser areas of occupation have been found in an east-west band west of these sites. The field systems show a sequence of recutting and realignment suggesting a prolonged period of activity lasting throughout the
Middle Saxon period, probably comprising settlement and associated farming. The presence of a later soil layer and a single medieval feature suggests some limited presence in the Late Saxon and medieval periods, but the main settlement had probably been abandoned by the 9th century.

Environmental evidence was obtained from macrofossil assessment of deposits from across the site and two pollen columns from a peat-filled watercourse on the north side of the site. This demonstrates an open landscape from the Roman to medieval periods with land being used for both arable and grazing within the immediate vicinity. An increase in cereal production is noticed after c.750AD and this date coincides approximately with the suggested end date for the settlement as indicated by the artefactual and stratigraphical evidence. The site is shown as being within Caudle Common on the 1886 Ordnance Survey Map, and it may be that this land was in Common use from the Saxon period onwards.

In addition, spreads of Mesolithic flints in soil layers at the base of the stratigraphic sequence were found in the north-western part of the site, providing further evidence of occupation from the earliest periods at RAF Lakenheath.