Week 1 (2021) – The Excavations at Rendlesham

sandy field, people digging and machine in background

Featured image: Volunteers hand-digging a 2.5sqm test pit and sieving the soil for objects.

The archaeological excavations at Rendlesham are now underway as we draw a close to the first week. With help from our very hard working volunteers we have made excellent progress.

During the first week, we have been setting up the site, getting the facilities delivered and opening up the trenches. To start with, five trenches were located with a GPS and the volunteers hand excavated three 2.5sqm  test pits in two of the trenches to find out about the density of finds in the plough soil. This involved sieving  the plough soil so that we could recover all of the finds within it. We found oyster shell, pottery, ceramic building material and worked flint.

We also fieldwalked over the tops of the trenches to recover any objects lying on the surface of the field before they were opened by a machine. The volunteers spotted quite a bit of Anglo-Saxon pottery and some worked flint, which we collected, labelled and located with the GPS.

The machine arrived on Wednesday so we could begin carefully opening the trenches, by the end of the week we had three trenches open and could begin cleaning them and identifying the archaeological features revealed. We also used the GPS to create a pre-excavation archaeological plan. So far we can see some possible ditches and pits, some of which may be the cellars of Anglo-Saxon huts, sometimes called sunken featured buildings, similar to the reconstructed huts at West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village. One of the trenches also looks like it has the remains of an ancient, buried soil surviving within it.

Next week we will continue machining the final two trenches and then start digging the archaeological features.

Keep an eye out for more updates on our blog as the excavation progresses over the next 6 weeks to follow our journey.

Find out more

Read about the Rendlesham Revealed project

Learn about the previous archaeological investigations since 2008

If you are interested in volunteering for the next season of fieldwork, you can join our e-newsletter mailing list to receive updates.


This fieldwork is part of the community archaeology project Rendlesham Revealed: Anglo-Saxon Life in South-East Suffolk, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. We are very grateful to our many local and national partners who have made this project possible, and for the support of the landowners and farmers who work and manage this historic landscape.

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