Medieval Farmstead, Stowupland

Aerial view of excavation site

Featured Image: aerial view of excavation area, looking north-east © Oxford Archaeology East

In 2021, excavations revealed evidence of a medieval farmstead in Stowupland, south of Gipping Road.

Oxford Archaeology East carried out a trial trench evaluation and excavation work ahead of a proposed residential development, which revealed a medieval farmstead consisting of field boundary ditches, enclosures and rectangular post-built structures. The farmstead went through two distinct phases of activity through the 11th to 13th centuries before being abandoned during the 14th century. A large assemblage of pottery dating from the 11th to 14th century was recovered, and several segments of the early medieval enclosure ditches had been used to dump a large quantity of charred cereal grain processing waste.

in situ coarseware jug being excavated
Medieval East Suffolk coarseware jug excavated from ditch © Oxford Archaeology East

During the late 11th to 13th centuries, the farmstead was situated within a large enclosure, with two post-built structures and a network of ditches, which defined small plots around the buildings.

The finds assemblages suggest some occupation on site, however, the evidence for crop processing hints that the structures could have been used for an industrial function.

A number of pits and a well were also recorded, some of which may have had an industrial function. These contained medieval finds, as well as a small amount of residual Middle Bronze Age pottery in its backfill, which had probably been disturbed from a nearby truncated feature.

In the 13th century, an enclosure system defined by boundary ditches was laid out on a different alignment to the earlier medieval activity, which focused on a third post-built structure. The enclosures were slightly modified over time but continued to respect the building which was in use throughout this time. Most of the pottery from this period was recovered from the enclosure ditches surrounding this structure, which suggests this building was a domestic dwelling and there was little evidence for any industrial activity occurring on site during this period. The pottery assemblage indicates the abandonment of the farmstead around the end of the 13th century.

Part of ditch being excavated
Ditch network © Oxford Archaeology East

After the abandonment of the farmstead at the end of the 13th century, some of the boundary features were maintained, although the majority went out of use. A trackway was also created, which cut across earlier features and is believed to have joined up with Gipping Road to the north and also continued beyond the excavation area to the south.

All remains have now been fully excavated and the area has been fully mapped and recorded ahead of the commencement of building work. The finds and remains have undergone specialist analysis and a full report on the results of the project has been completed (and will be made publicly available in due course). The entire archive will be deposited with the County Archive, maintained by Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service; this will be available for researchers and for local museums to borrow on loan for display to the public.

The work was commissioned by Bloor Homes and undertaken by Oxford Archaeology East, with RPS Group acting as their archaeological consultants for the project. Suffolk County Council’s archaeological officers monitored the project to ensure that the site was excavated and recorded to a high standard.

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