Archaeologists from Cotswold Archaeology have been excavating land in the village of Chelmondiston in Suffolk, England. The dig site is located near the coast and uncovered evidence of how people lived in different time periods. Artifacts and structures provided clues about early settlers and medieval villagers.

The earliest discoveries were from the Early Iron Age between 500-800 BC. Small pits were found scattered around, but archaeologists are still unsure what they were used for. A few post structures that may have been storage buildings were also found.

The next major phase of activity was during the Anglo-Saxon period between 800-900 AD. Researchers uncovered a neighborhood of buildings inside curved trenches. These homes were part of a larger settlement that once extended south and east, now under the modern village.

The largest building was a hall house over 12 meters long. It had an eastern extension and would have had earthen posts, timber walls, a raised floor and thatched or shingled roof.

This was likely the main home for a family with an open great room, central fireplace, storage in one end and a loft for sleeping. The hall was surrounded by a ditch and bank enclosure with evidence of fences and smaller outbuildings like barns and sheds nearby.

East of the hall house inside the enclosure was a row of four pits and shaft pits that were probably drained to help store items. Pottery and other finds were recovered showing how people lived. The pottery dated to 700-850 AD and was made locally on a slow potter’s wheel, some of the earliest pottery made in England after the Romans left.

While the village is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, it was clearly established by medieval times. The enclosures may mark the beginnings of Chelmondiston.

Most likely the name comes from “Ceolmund’s Enclosure” – Coelmund itself comes from the Old English Ceol “Keel” (keel of a ship) and Mund “Protection” – and it is tempting to think that this house belonged to one of the first Anglo-Saxon inhabitants of the village, in the late 8th century (perhaps not Ceolmund himself, but a family member…?).

As a curiosity, this part of Suffolk has an unusual number of “-ton” village names leading up the Orwell to the River Gipping and its tributaries, which took their names from named individuals such as Floki (Flowton), Nagli (Naughton), Hnaki (Nacton), Wulfhere (Woolverstone) and Eoforweard (Erwarton). This is an unusual concentration of such place names, so it must have some significance, as yet undiscovered.

Later activity occurred Norman times with a small works area and large well-preserved 14th century kiln that produced pottery for the area. The discoveries provide a glimpse into village life over a thousand years.


Sources

Cotswold Archaeology


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