Featured image: aerial view of the reconstructed Anglo-Saxon buildings at West Stow near to the River Lark
The Archaeological Service are investigating the hidden archaeology in the Lark Valley in West Suffolk as part of the Brecks Fen Edge and Rivers Landscape Partnership project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The Lark Valley is well known for its Anglo-Saxon heritage. One of the most important early Anglo-Saxon settlements in the country, excavated in 1965-72 by Stanley West, was discovered at West Stow. Earlier Iron Age settlement was also uncovered there, and in 1940 Basil Brown excavated two Roman kilns. The site at West Stow is now a renowned tourist attraction with a museum and reconstructed Anglo-Saxon buildings.
Over the river at Lackford, there is evidence of a large Anglo-Saxon cemetery where this community may have been buried. Nearby at Icklingham, there is a focus of Roman activity with evidence of road-side settlement, villa and a cemetery.
At Cavenham and Lackford are the discontinuous surviving earthworks known as the “Black Ditches” which cross the route of the Icknield Way between the Lark Valley and the high ground, and are comparable with similar linear earthworks in the region, such as Cambridgeshire’s Devils Dyke and Fleam Dyke. The northern and southern extents are desiginated Scheduled Ancient Monuments; however the full extent of these earthworks is not known.
Together these archaeological sites represent evidence of intense historical activity and land use in the Lark Valley. As part of the Brecks, Fen Edge and Rivers project, we will focus on investigating the peripheries of these sites and the under explored sites in the wider area. We will carry out a landscape-scale investigation to stitch this archaeological landscape together, revealing how the river and its surrounding landscape were used for the survival of prehistoric, Roman and Anglo-Saxon communities.
Local people will be able to volunteer to help with the investigations with opportunities to be trained in non-intrusive archaeological survey techniques.
If you are interested in volunteering for the next season of fieldwork in 2022, you can join our e-newsletter mailing list to receive updates.
Find out more
Discover the Brecks Fen Edge and Rivers Landscape Partnership project
Learn more about West Stow in our recent blog post
Read about the ongoing research into the Lackford cemetery