A multi-period site at Johnson’s Farm, Leiston

Aerial view of excavation site

Featured Image: View north-west of the medieval farmstead complex © Pre-Construct Archaeology

A multi-period site, with remains dating from the prehistoric to the post-medieval periods, has been excavated on the edge of Leiston ahead of a housing development.

Although a number of Neolithic flints were found at the site, the earliest recorded archaeology was a Middle Bronze Age enclosure associated with dispersed pits. A group of four cremations is thought to also date from this period, but a programme of radiocarbon dating is planned to help confirm this. Early Iron Age activity in the form of field boundary ditches, further scattered pits and the remains of a number of posthole structures were also identified.

Evidence of Roman activity was uncovered, including an enclosure, associated with a number of possible structures, rubbish pits and field systems. A further group of cremations dates from this period, one of which had been placed inside a wooden box before being buried.

A timber-framed farmhouse was constructed as part of a farmstead complex in the medieval period, associated with activity dating from the 12th-14th centuries, including field systems and rubbish pits containing large amounts of domestic waste. The full plan of the excavated building shows evidence of two construction phases and for deliberate dismantling of this structure at the end of its use.

View of excavated ditch
Medieval ditch, mid excavation looking west, backfilled with building debris. © Pre-Construct Archaeology

A hiatus of activity occurred on the site until the after the 18th century when Johnson’s Farm was constructed; the 1840 Tithe Map shows there were three farm buildings. The farm was subsequently demolished in the 20th century, and only a wall fragment and shallow foundation remains were recorded as surviving during the excavation.

View of excavated wall
Eastern wall foundation of Johnson’s Farmhouse, bricks recovered from this wall give a date range of 1750-1900. © Pre-Construct Archaeology

The work was commissioned by Persimmon Homes and undertaken by Pre-Construct Archaeology, with RPS acting as archaeological consultants for the project. Suffolk County Council’s Archaeological officers monitored the project to make sure that the site was recorded and excavated to high standards.

All remains have now been fully excavated ahead of the development and are undergoing post excavation analysis. The area has been fully mapped and recorded and building work has now begun.

The finds and remains will now undergo specialist analysis, details of the site will be documented (with reports made publicly available in due course), and the entire archive will be deposited with Suffolk County Council’s Archaeology Service. Once this work is complete, the archive will be available for researchers and local museums to borrow on loan for display to the public.

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