Long Melford dig uncovers a couple of gems

FASCINATING FIND: National Trust archaeologist Angus Wainwright with a piece of a German tankard uncovered at Melford Hall.
FASCINATING FIND: National Trust archaeologist Angus Wainwright with a piece of a German tankard uncovered at Melford Hall.

AN archaeological dig searching for a Tudor gatehouse at Melford Hall discovered 17th century shopping vouchers and a mysterious wall last week.

The excavations, which followed in the footsteps of pits dug as part of BBC television programme The Great British Story in May, were attempting to find evidence of the hall’s eastern courtyard, which shows up on maps and drawings of the estate from the 1600s.

Angus Wainwright, an archaeologist with the National Trust who carried out the dig, said: “We’ve seen old plans showing the location of the buildings, so we had a trench there to see if we could find it and eventually help vistors imagine what Melford Hall would have looked like in Tudor times.

“We had lots of visitors coming to see what we were doing and volunteers helping.

“There were a couple of families with children who were more interested in finding dinosaur bones.”

Mr Wainwright and his team actually found remains of a Tudor wall, but not in the area they expected to, so the dig was extended to yesterday in a bid to try to solve the mystery of its location.

Other discoveries included examples of Tudor glass, which may be remnants of windows smashed when Melford Hall was attacked in the English Civil War, and a trader’s token which was issued by candlemaker Nicholas Dansie from Lavenham to customers when small change was in short supply.

Mr Wainwright said he hoped the digs could be resumed next year to uncover more about the history of Melford Hall.

WHAT A FIND: The token issued by Nicholas Dansie of Lavenham which dates back to the Tudor period.