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Cemetery dating back 1,500 years discovered by Suffolk coast

PUBLISHED: 14:50 16 September 2020 | UPDATED: 17:38 16 September 2020

The archaeological team work through the sand at the 1,500-year-old Oulton site.

The archaeological team work through the sand at the 1,500-year-old Oulton site.

Archant

An Anglo-Saxon cemetery dating back to the sixth century has been discovered by archaeologists on the Suffolk coast.

Archaeologists discover a 6th centry settlement on the Suffolk coast. PHOTO: Suffolk County CouncilArchaeologists discover a 6th centry settlement on the Suffolk coast. PHOTO: Suffolk County Council

The excavations were carried out in Oulton, where skeletal remains have been recovered which reveal the existence of what was once a small farming community.

Male, female, infant and child burials have been discovered at the site.

The dig has revealed further a rare phenomenon of many skeletons only visible as ‘sand-silhouettes’, a delicate form of preservation which forms if the soil is highly acidic.

The remains have been compared to those from the likes recovered at Sutton Hoo and Snape.

Skeletons have been discovered at the site. PHOTO: Suffolk County CouncilSkeletons have been discovered at the site. PHOTO: Suffolk County Council

Other items found at the site include some graves containing copper-alloy brooches, wrist clasps, strings of beads made of amber and glass, small iron knives and silver pennies.

The excavation has taken place following planning permission granted for a set of new homes on the land by Persimmon Homes Anglia Ltd.

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Andrew Peachey, of Archaeological Solutions Ltd, carried out the excavation.

Other interesting items dating back to the 6th century have been discovered at the housing development site. PHOTO: Suffolk County CouncilOther interesting items dating back to the 6th century have been discovered at the housing development site. PHOTO: Suffolk County Council

He said: “Our archaeologists painstakingly excavated the delicate remains of 17 cremations and 191 inhumation burials.

“Due to the highly acidic soil the skeletons had mostly vanished and were luckily preserved as fragile shapes and shadows in the sand.

“These shadows also revealed traces of the wooden coffins that some of the individuals were buried in.

“Many of the artefacts were so fragile they had to be block lifted for micro-excavation in the labs at Norfolk Museum Service for analysis and conservation – they were even able to recover pieces of textiles and leather.”

John Eldridge, Persimmon Homes Anglia director, said: “We feel privileged to be part of such an exciting find and it quickly became clear that our Woods Meadow development was subject to a significant piece of history.”

All the remains at the site have now been fully excavated ahead of the housing development and are now undergoing analysis.

Once the work is complete, the artefacts will be available to researchers and eventually put on display in local museums.


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