The Results – Geophysics at West Stow 2021

three people looking at a laptop

Featured image: volunteers reviewing the geophysical survey results after collecting the data in the field.

In October 2021, 12 volunteers were trained to carry out a geophysical survey in the areas surrounding West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village and Country Park. The training was led by Phase Site Investigations who have now completed the data analysis, which has revealed some interesting results.

The volunteers surveyed 11 separate areas, on pasture and scrub fields, using a hand-held Bartington Grad601-2 and a cart-based multi-sensor magnetic system. The fields were divided into 30m x 30m survey grids so that the data could be collected systematically. The data collected was good quality and showed some interesting results, however the sandy soils seemed to have a relatively low magnetic response so it is possible that additional archaeological features were undetected.

Area 1 – Field to the north of West Stow Country Park

The most exciting result from the geophysical survey is the remains of a Roman Road. Two parallel linear features were visible, indicative of infilled ditches that would have run either side of the road. The road continued beyond the survey area to the east and west (Anomalies A). This is likely part of the east-west Roman road that connects Icklingham to Pakenham, where it then meets the north-south road running from Stanton to Long Melford.

Other linear features were visible in Area 1, which were possibly infilled ditches (Anomalies B and C) or related to agricultural activity or field boundaries (Anomalies E). Additionally, quite a few isolated responses were picked up across the area. These could relate to natural features, deeper buried ferrous or fired material, infilled features of areas of burning. A cluster of these responses are seen in the north of Area 1 (Anomalies H) and other similar responses in the south-west of the area (Anomalies I).

Area 5 – Field west of West Stow Country Park

This area was dominated by a series of strong linear features on a north-south alignment, which relate to modern drainage. Various other linear/curvi-linear features (Anomalies J) could be infilled archaeological features, although more likely agricultural or modern activity.

Areas 6-11 – West Stow Country Park

Several linear and curvilinear features were visible in this area, however their origins still remain a mystery. They could possible be infilled ditches (Anomalies L and M), relating to enclosures or field divisions, although many of the features could relate to modern activity or be natural features. There were also some strong isolated magnetic responses, which could be caused by natural variations or deeper buried relatively modern ferrous or fired material.

The Archaeological Service are grateful to the volunteers for their hard work and to the landowners for their invaluable support.

We will be back out in the field next year to conduct more geophysical survey as well as fieldwalking. If you are interested in volunteering, keep an eye out for updates or subscribe to our “Archaeology News in Suffolk” e-newsletter.

The training was delivered by Phase Site Investigations Ltd, co-ordinated by Cotswold Archaeology (Suffolk), and overseen by Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service. This fieldwork is part of the Brecks Fen Edge and Rivers Landscape Partnership, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. We are very grateful to our 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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