Access Cambridge Archaeology has produced the full results from the fieldwalking in Covehithe, on the Suffolk coast from last winter. The fieldwalking was organised in conjunction with Touching the Tide as part of their 3-year Hertiage Lottery Funded Landscape Partnership Scheme within which 36 local residents and volunteers braved the cold for two days to walk the field adjacent to the ruins of St Andrew’s church.
The full report from the fieldwalking can be downloaded here.
Interpretating the results from fieldwalking is not often straightforward, particularly if only one field has been walked, which is the case here at Covehithe. A few inferences can be made however to the changing use of the area and the origins and development of the medieval settlement near the church.
The areas seems to have been thinly used throughout the prehistoric period, with more intensive deposition in the Roman period suggesting the likelihood of settlement nearby although not present on the walked site itself. No material of early Anglo-Saxon date was recovered, but there is evidence for activity of middle Anglo-Saxon date which is considered most likely to relate to settlement and thus suggests that the origins of the settlement at Covehithe, possibly arranged along the line of the present road, considerably predates both the church and the earliest documentary record in Domesday Book. This settlement clearly expanded in the later Anglo-Saxon period to occupy the area between the present church and Jasmine Cottage: this may have represented reorganisation of the road-side middle Anglo Saxon settlement. The medieval settlement at Covehithe continued to expand, notably in the area away from the road and probably to the east of the church as well; its size reflecting its prosperity as a medieval fishing village. The fieldwalking results suggest that the village did not go into decline after the Black Death during the 14th century, but did do so much later during the post-medieval period, when westward migration due to coastal erosion eventually petered out as the population declined in the 19th century to leave just a couple of dispersed cottages strung out along the lane west of the church.
Our thanks must go again to all the volunteers who assissted us in the fieldwalking over the two days and who contributed to these results.