The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians.These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Roman Finds at Rodbridge, near Long Melford. in 1951

(from the  proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History Volume XXVI, part 1 1952)
Following notice that animal bones had been found in a West Suffolk County Council disused gravel pit at Rodbridge, near Long Melford (Nat. Grid. 00/856435), Miss E. M. Backhouse, of Sudbury, in August 1951 recovered from the same spot shards of Roman pottery.

On 29 September a member of this Society, who is interested in field work, undertook a planned investigation and unearthed, between that date and 21 October, the following items:—a Roman bronze ligula or spatula, about four inches long; a steelyard hook; a nail; two shards of Samian ware; approx. 50 shards of Castor ware; approx. 700 shards, some decorated but the majority small and broken, of Roman grey ware, including rims and bases; approx. 25 shards of Anglo-Saxon coarse ware; samples of charcoal and discoloured flints.

The gravel pits at Rodbridge (there are others on the right-hand side of the Borley road) supplied material for Acton Aerodrome, near Sudbury, in World War II. As far as can be ascertained, nothing of archaeological interest was ever reported, yet evidence of what are believed to be hut floors or refuse pits must have
been noticed when the deep incisions were made in the ground. The site of the pit was originally arable land; the river Stour flows about 200 yards from the spot. The finds are at present in
my possession.

G. R. Elliott.

Since this note was written, the gravel pit has been bulldozed by the West Suffolk County Council, but it is hoped that an arrangement will be made whereby any future excavations here will be carried out under the auspices of the Institute, subject to the agreement of the tenant and to certain conditions regarding the
ownership and disposal of any finds. This is, of course, assuming that the bull-dozer has not done irreparable damage to the site.

Iron Age Pottery Vessel found at the Stour at Cavendish in 1952.

(from the proceedings of the Suffolk Institute Archaeology 1952)
An angler of 34 years experience, Mr. William Shaw, of 4 Broadway, Glemsford, Suffolk, while
fishing for roach in the River Stour (Nat. Grid. 795E454N) in front of Cavendish Hall, the home of the owner of  the land, Mrs. A. Brocklcbank,  landed with a collection of rubbish, what was identified on January 19th, 1953, by Mr. M. R. Hull, curator of the Castle Museum, Colchester, as either a native Iron Age or ancient British pottery vessel (circa b.c. 50—a.d. 50) of the Cunobulum dynasty.

The perfectly preserved vessel, which is about 5 inches in diameter and approx. 4J inches high, is slate grey in colour and there are two parallel incisions, extending round the pot, between the lip and belly. Mrs. Brocklebank, who has custody of the relic, was advised by the museum not to clean the chalk deposit off it. 

Mr. Shaw told me that the vessel had been lying in his shed from August, 1952, to January, 1953, when he took the pot to Mrs.Brocklcbank, who realised at once that it was of considerable antiquity. The river was ' quite shallow' at the time of the discovery- ; the river bottom shows traces of chalk, which probably
accounts for the chalk encrusted pot.

The discovery of this ancient vessel is of added interest: as far as can be ascertained, it is the only recorded find in the village apart from the Late Bronze Age encrusted urn, found in the spring of 1843, in the vicinity of Mr. Shaw's ' catch '. This urn, which contained the burial of a cremated child {skull, bone fragments,
and teeth sockets), was found inverted over the ashes'. It was presented in 1851, by the then Rector of Cavendish (The Rev.Thomas Castley), to the old Sudbury Museum but the whereabouts of the urn to-day is not known. Apparently a special frame was made for it and other precautions taken to preserve the relic.

W. W. Hodson, writing in a local guide book published in 1870, said that the Museum, which was then housed in a room at the Lecture Hall, North Street,' of late years has been much neglected'. It seems likely that the urn may have been mislaid during that period. It was described at the 1852 Annual Meeting of the old Bury and West Suffolk Archaeological Institute, by Mr. Castley, who states that the urn was found ' half way between the pool in the middle of Parson's Piece and the hedge on the South, not many
rods from the North bank of the River Stour' (Prot, Suff. Inst. Arch., vol. I, p. 313).