Dunwich Dig – Day 4

With a flurry of excitement at realising we were in that morning’s East Anglian Daily Times, causing much discussion of who had and hadn’t made it into the photos, day four began. Despite an ominous black cloud mid-morning, the promised rain held off and everyone had a good start to the day with several exciting finds.

Up in Trench 1, Jess and her now well-trained volunteers rushed to finish digging their extension, started the previous day, down to the same level as the rest of their trench. Mission accomplished, the fallen section of wall was drawn with the aid of an improvised tile plumb-bob (beautifully purpose-made courtesy of Geoff) and a short interlude to rescue another archaeology seeking newt.

Sarah with 'Bob' - an improvished tile plumb-bob to help draw Trench 1's plan.
Sarah with ‘Bob’ – an improvished tile plumb-bob to help draw Trench 1’s plan.

After break, work began taking up the fallen wall in order to explore what lies beneath. A currently favoured hypothesis is that the sandy material underneath the rubble comes from soil cast up during the digging of the town ditch, Pales Dyke, which is known to run along the eastern boundary of Greyfriars’ precinct. However, with a prehistori

c (possibly Iron Age on the grounds it looks ‘a bit grotty’) flint core and flake, mixed in with a few medieval finds, hinting at much earlier activity in the area of Dunwich, Trench 1 may still have many surprises for us yet.

Trench 1
Trench 1

John’s Trench 3, along the continuation of St. James’s Street, is steadily working down towards medieval deposits, although still appears to be in post-medieval layers; as shown by the discovery of a not-so-ancient door knob (which at least provided the source of many jokes and much entertainment!). On a more archaeological note, a sherd of Middle Saxon Ipswich ware (made AD 700-850) and potentially several pieces of Late Saxon Thetford ware add significantly to the Saxon finds from Dunwich and offer hope that we may find further, much sought-after evidence of Saxon occupation.

Ipswich ware from Trench 3
Ipswich ware from Trench 3

Down in the car park, Trench 4 made the best of having to work around the two pipes running through the middle and took the opportunity to dig down deeper, with a slot at either end. Still rejoicing at having made it through the plastic-wrapped filled topsoil, Cat and her hard-working volunteers were rewarded with many medieval finds, including the complete base of a 14th century glazed ale jug. Even more excitingly, several fragments of painted medieval window glass were found – such high status finds are likely to have come from the nearby Hospital of the Holy Trinity (Maison Dieu). John was also able to confirm Cat and Carenza’s suspicions that two large sherds from Trench 4 are indeed Thetford ware; together with Trench 3, we have now taken the count of Saxon pottery sherds found at Dunwich from one to two hands.

Painted medieval window glass
Painted medieval window glass

There are high hopes for planned westward extension of Trench 4 tomorrow, away from the car park and nearer to the harbour’s edge.

Tom displays the 14th century jug base from Trench 4
Tom displays the 14th century jug base from Trench 4

Fingers crossed the sunny weather will hold out for what promised to be another exciting day tomorrow!

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