Anglo-Saxon finds from Trimley St Martin

Today (20th October), the Trust’s senior archaeologist Howard Brooks was working here at Roman Circus House on the report on our fieldwork at Trimley St Martin in Suffolk. We excavated the site, which was of a new reservoir at a farm, in May-June. (See our item on the fieldwork on this web-site at .) Today, Howard’s work included plotting the distribution of our finds of quernstone fragments and loomweight fragments on a plan of the site.

We conducted an evaluation on the site in January. It had been assessed as being of extremely high archaeological potential, being surrounded by three known major cropmark complexes, including ancient field systems, enclosures and prehistoric barrows. The site also lies within a wider multi-period archaeological landscape, overlooking the valley of a brook. The site had not previously been systematically investigated, and so there was a high potential for previously-unknown archaeological remains on the site.

During our evaluation and excavation projects, we uncovered evidence of the ditches of prehistoric and Roman field systems. The Roman field system had continued in use in the Anglo-Saxon period. We also recorded evidence of defunct modern field ditches. The Anglo-Saxon pit on the site may represent a sunken-featured building such as a hut. We recovered some Anglo-Saxon material, including the fragments of quernstones and loomweights, and fragments of Anglo-Saxon pottery. The quernstones were made of lava imported from Germany and may have been Roman or Anglo-Saxon in date, or Roman and re-used in the Anglo-Saxon period. The ring (annular) loomweights, made of fired clay, were probably home-made on the site and used on a loom for weaving cloth. Interestingly, these loomweights seem to have been fired, whereas the loomweights which we recently found on our site at Brightlingsea seem to have not been fired; the fired loomweights are of a different colour to the unfired loomweights.

The Anglo-Saxon evidence which we have uncovered at Trimley St Martin suggests an Anglo-Saxon ?farmstead, ie a small, self-sufficient agricultural settlement where the inhabitants farmed sheep, produced wool, made loomweights and wove their own cloth. This is very similar to the site which we are currently investigating at Brightlingsea in Essex, with its evidence of another Anglo-Saxon farmstead. Both sites demonstrate a long history of occupation and agriculture, with the construction of buildings and the excavation of elements like ditches or a reservoir, and – at Trimley St Martin – continuing in the present.

Read more about the Anglo-Saxon farmstead at Brightlingsea on this web-site at .

The images show: Howard at work today; the fragments of two different loomweights in focus; and one of Howard’s working site plans (the distribution of features).