A kitchen story, a quarry, bones and gaming pieces: These medieval finds have been found at a Suffolk school

By Culture24 Reporter | 09 May 2016

Excavations at a Suffolk school have revealed a series of objects from across the centuries - and part of a kitchen

A photo of a backfilled medieval ditch found by Suffolk Archaeology
© Suffolk Archaeology
A school site in an 11th century road system in Suffolk has been excavated for medieval remains ahead of the creation of a new classroom and kitchen. The first cooking there, though, might actually have happened during the 14th century, according to the most unusual of the discoveries made during the dig: a small flint and mortar building which is thought to have been a kitchen or cold store.

Any fires during cooking wouldn’t have affected the main house, with the kitchen building set some distance from the street frontage and houses. Above ground, it would have been constructed of timber with a tiled floor and roof.

Bury St Edmunds’s Abbot set up the roads at the core of the old town, where a large medieval market thrived. Pilgrims to the abbey made the area an important and wealthy regional centre.

Elsewhere, archaeologists found a series of pits for quarry chalk, made between the 12th and 14th centuries in attempts to extract lime from the chalk for mortar. Domestic rubbish was backfilled in the pits, where large numbers of pig, sheep, goat, cattle and fish bones were discovered alongside oyster and mussel shells – pointing to the diet of the population.

A photo of brown fragments of Grimston-style highly decorated jug with a rim which has a bridge spout found by Suffolk Archaeology
© Suffolk Archaeology
These are fragments of a Grimston-style highly decorated jug. Probably part of a face-jug dating to the 13th or 14th century, its rim has a bridge spout.

A photo of a complete, plano-convex spindle whorl for working wool into yarn found by Suffolk Archaeology
© Suffolk Archaeology
A complete, plano-convex spindle whorl dates from between the 13th and 15th centuries. Used for working wool into yarn, it is made from stone with a central perforation.

A photo of a brown gnarled complete cast boy bishop found by Suffolk Archaeology
© Suffolk Archaeology
This is a complete cast boy bishop token, dating to between 1470 and 1539. The obverse shows a Bishop’s mitre with the inscription SA[NC]T[US NIC]HOLAVS.O. The reverse shows a long cross with three pellets in each quarter and the inscription AVE/REX/GEN/TIS.

A photo of a copper alloy chain made up of twisted figure of eight wire links found by Suffolk Archaeology
© Suffolk Archaeology
A series of twisted figure of eight wire links make up this copper alloy chain. One terminal ends in a simple hook, whereby the link has been left open rather than closed. It may be the chain for a chatelaine, dating from the 15th or 16th century.

A photo of five dark yellow or light brown fragments of late medieval bone button or bead making waste found by Suffolk Archaeology
© Suffolk Archaeology
People drilled into these discs - late medieval bone buttons or bead-making waste - from both sides.

A photo of the dark green rim of a Hedingham stamped strip jug found by Suffolk Archaeology
© Suffolk Archaeology
This rim comes from a Hedingham stamped strip jug, made at some point between the 13th and mid-14th centuries.

A photo of a fragment of a storage vessel with strengthening applied strips and impressed decoration found by Suffolk Archaeology
© Suffolk Archaeology
The sandy greyware this storage vessel is made from was probably local to Suffolk. Superficially it resembles Late Saxon Thetford-type ware, but it is later, belonging to the medieval period, and has strengthening applied strips, an impressed decoration and slight lid-seating.

A photo of fragments of medieval jugs from Hedingham in Essex. One is decorated in a combed or reeded style, whilst the other has applied roundels found by Suffolk Archaeology
© Suffolk Archaeology
One of these medieval jug fragments, from Hedingham, Essex, is decorated in a combed or reeded style. The other has applied roundels. Both date from between the 13th and early 14th centuries.

A photo of a terracotta medieval peg tile found by Suffolk Archaeology
© Suffolk Archaeology
This medieval peg tile dates from between the 13th and 15th centuries.

A photo of a medieval spindle found by suffolk archaeology
© Suffolk Archaeology
This complete circular antler gaming piece is decorated with two compass-drawn grooves and a repeating ring and dot motif. It has a central perforation which is worn on one side, suggesting that it may have been held on string between the 12th and 14th centuries.


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Three museums to discover Suffolk's archaeology in

Beccles and District Museum
Leman House was probably built about 1570 and was completely restored and modernised in the 1760s. Originally it was a timber frame structure, much of which disappeared when the brick facades were added. What remains shows minimal decoration, but there are classic features of a mid to late 16th century building, including a series of fine Queen Post roof trusses.

Aldeburgh Museum
This 16th century town hall is a listed ancient building with a museum displaying items of local interest such as photographs and artefacts depicting life in Aldeburgh. Highlights include Anglo-Saxon finds from 1862 and material on the Snape ship burial excavations.

Orford Museum
The newest display here, The Bronze Age Story, shows the stunning Butley Hoard of axe heads and a replica of the Boyton gold torc, on loan from Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service.
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