Flixton Park Quarry – circles, cemeteries and living with monuments

photograph of post hole circle

Featured Image: Post Hole Circle with internal structure after Excavation © Suffolk County Council

Since 1995 Flixton Park Quarry has been subject to formal archaeological excavation under planning archaeological guidance, but before then there was virtually no archaeological record. In the first of a series of articles, we take a look at the significant discoveries uncovered during these excavations. This week focusses on the Palaeolithic to Neolithic periods.

Flixton Park Quarry lies in Suffolk on the south side of the Waveney valley, in an area which has been subject to aggregate extraction for many decades. Over thirteen years of seasonal excavation work covers an area of circa 43 hectares revealing extensive and significant archaeological deposits.

Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods

The earliest human activity on the site dates to the Palaeolithic period, in the form of worked flint hand axes recovered from the quarry gravels. Activity continued into the Mesolithic period, with pits or tree throws being utilised as flint knapping areas in the north and south ends of the site. The worked flint assemblages of this period were dominated by blades, with two microliths also being present in each of the features.

Example of a Palaeolithic Hand axes recovered at Flixton Park Quarry © Cotswold Archaeology

Early Neolithic period

The Neolithic evidence was dominated by monumental structures. A Long Barrow (long earthen burial mound) with associated pits containing pottery and worked flint dated to the Early Neolithic period. Upon excavation of the Long Barrow 32 posts holes were identified within the interior, forming two internal structural components.  100m to the east of the Long Barrow was a rectangle enclosure on a similar north-east to south-west orientation, with two entrances. No funerary evidence was identified; however, these features are often termed Long Mortuary enclosures.

Several small finds of this period were encountered with a remarkable Early Neolithic stone monster bead being recovered.  These are found widely scattered around Britain and Ireland with a number associated with funerary contexts.

Monster Bead
Early Neolithic Monster Bead

Other features dating to the Early Neolithic period included isolated pits from which pottery and worked flints were recovered.

Late Neolithic period

Evidence for the Late Neolithic period included a monument of a post hole circle of 18m diameter, with an entrance to the north-west and an internal sub-rectangular post hole structure.  The function of this structure is unknown.  This was then overlain by an Early Bronze Age Funerary Monument comprising an unurned cremation burial, enclosed by a ring ditch.

Plan of Late Neolithic post hole circle overlain by Early Bronze Age Funerary Monument © Suffolk County Council

Further features of this period consisted of sixty five pits, all dated to the Late Neolithic based on their association with grooved ware pottery recovered from the fills.  These pits were found across the site in clusters, with two of the pits possibly in a formal arrangement, indicating the location of possible structures. A number of the pits also exhibited signs of structured deposition of their fills.

Keep an eye out for the next article in this series, which will focus on the Bronze Age archaeological remains excavated at Flixton.

Find out more

Discover more about the excavations with East Anglian Archaeology 147: Circles and Cemeteries: Excations at Flixton Volume 1 and East Anglian Archaeology Archaeology 177: Living With Monuments: Excavations at Flixton Volume 2

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