Digs unearth evidence of Long Melford’s ancient history

Archaeological excavations off Bull Lane in Long Melford. Photo credit: Dave Williams.
Archaeological excavations off Bull Lane in Long Melford. Photo credit: Dave Williams.

New evidence of human activity dating back thousands of years has been unearthed in Long Melford, following a series of archaeological digs.

Excavations have now been completed at a site in Bull Lane, by a team from Oxford Archaeology, which has discovered remains of Medieval industrial and domestic buildings, two Bronze Age cremations and a pit containing Neolithic pottery.

Archaeological excavations off Bull Lane in Long Melford. Photo credit: Dave Williams.

Archaeological excavations off Bull Lane in Long Melford. Photo credit: Dave Williams.

The work was contracted by a housing developer prior to the start of building off Bull Lane, as the land was identified by the Long Melford Heritage Centre (LMHC) and Suffolk County Council’s Archaeological Services as an area of interest, due to it possibly crossing paths with the east-to-west Roman road into Melford.

John Nunn, LMHC co-founder and a parish and district councillor, said: “Although in isolation these important finds may not positively prove habitation in the vicinity, using local knowledge and considering the bigger picture, continued settlement is compelling.

“Although houses in this region and from this period are rarely visible to the archaeologist, aerial photographs of the Stour Valley confirm the presence of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments and barrows.

“Some of these may well have been visible in the landscape to inhabitants in the Bull Lane area.

Archaeological excavations off Bull Lane in Long Melford. Photo credit: Dave Williams.

Archaeological excavations off Bull Lane in Long Melford. Photo credit: Dave Williams.

“In addition, the LMHC is in possession, and has on display, items found locally from these periods.

“LMHC recently conducted a geophysical survey using ground-penetrating radar, which confirmed the presence of Roman roads, together with buildings under both grassland and modern roads in the village.

“There can be few towns or villages in this region that can lay claim to such a rich history of continual habitation, going back 7,000 years.”

Mr Nunn added that further archaeological digs in the village are due to be resumed soon by Wessex Archaeology on the former Fleetwood Caravan site, which will soon be developed into the new Orchard Brook housing estate.

Archaeological excavations off Bull Lane in Long Melford. Photo credit: Dave Williams.

Archaeological excavations off Bull Lane in Long Melford. Photo credit: Dave Williams.

Previous excavations on this site have uncovered thousands of small finds, including an artifact identified by the LMHC as a Roman seal box, which would have been used to seal official post in the Roman era.

Mr Nunn said this discovery could indicate that Long Melford had a Roman name during this period and may have contained an official Imperial Post Office, along with accommodation.

Archaeological excavations off Bull Lane in Long Melford. Photo credit: Dave Williams.

Archaeological excavations off Bull Lane in Long Melford. Photo credit: Dave Williams.