A desk-top assessment has been carried out to establish the archaeological potential of an area of agricultural land proposed for a large housing development for the USAF at Eriswell in Suffolk. The development area lies within a rich historic landscape on the fen-edge in the south-western corner of Breckland Environmentally Sensitive Area. The assessment has looked at the Suffolk County Sites and Monuments Record (SMR), all readily available cartographic sources, available aerial photographic evidence, and civil and environmental listings for the site.
Archaeological excavations carried out to the north of the area within RAF Lakenheath and to the south at Hurst Fen have both uncovered archaeological sites of national importance and examination of the SMR shows evidence of archaeological sites of all periods in the immediately adjacent areas. No systematic survey has been carried out in the development area itself but this evidence from the surrounding landscape suggests that there is high potential for important archaeological remains of any period to be present. Areas of specific interest have been identified where the presence of archaeological sites outside the eastern and western boundaries of the development area and adjacent to Eriswell village seems to increase the probability of the presence of archaeological deposits.
The documentary study has identified some now disappeared trackways running across the development area and, from the names of some of these, the possibility that there may have been a harbour in the vicinity. These may all be Anglo-Saxon in origin and highlight further areas of high archaeological potential, particularly for Anglo-Saxon and Medieval settlement.
The examination of the available aerial photographs did not identify specific archaeological features but did show landscape detail revealing previous land-use, the geological humps and hollows, and modern pipelines.