Events 2016


Sutton Hoo & Woodbridge Tide Mill 17th September 2016




Setting off on what seemed to be the first day of autumn, we arrived earlier than expected at the Sutton Hoo site which appeared quite atmospheric in the misty morning. However we were welcomed by the staff who allowed us to enter the building ahead of time to use the facilities!
We had time to wander around the site, before most of the group opted for a guided tour of the burial mounds later in the morning. Near the end of the tour they were rewarded by being able to watch an unexpected re-enactment in costume of the inquest held at Tranmere House (home of the original owner Mrs Pretty) on whether the treasure found in the grounds was treasure trove or not.

Bruiser the Manx ram guards the gate to the tumuli!
Bruiser the Manx ram guards the gate to the tumuli!

The Exhibition Hall continues to evolve – and gets better and better. Lots of information in colourful and easy to understand exhibits. There is now a Treasury containing uplighted replicas of the treasures that the site has yielded. I was lucky enough to be in there at noon to hear a short talk on the silver dishes found on the site and believed to be used in religious practices.

Our party by the reconstructed Tumulus No 2
Our party by the reconstructed Tumulus No 2 – click for a bigger picture
Inside the Exhibition
Inside the Exhibition


National Trust Site for Sutton Hoo

British Museum Sutton Hoo Information


English Travel Poster produced for British Railways. Artwork by Jack Merriott (1901-1968)
Travel Poster produced for British Railways. Artwork by Jack Merriott (1901-1968)

After lunch we travelled down into Woodbridge to visit the very picturesque 800- year old Tide Mill. We were met by Bob Skillet who took us around the mill and explained what happens on each floor.

We were initially shown a working model of the mill, before going outside to the board walk where we were able to see how the tidal waters are trapped in the tidal pond and also view the 5m oak water wheel which was replaced in 2011.

At one time the tidal pond was very much larger.

The Waterwheel and its housing
The Waterwheel and its housing

The earliest record for the mill on this site by the River Deben was 1170. Changing hands over the years it fell into disrepair in the 1950s and closed in 1957. It was restored and opened to the public in 1973 and it is now a fully working mill again – I have the loaf of bread to prove it (unintended pun there!)

It was a shame that the tide was too low for us to see wheel and the rest of the machinery in action. However the scenery and the peace and quiet more than made up for that.

A very enjoyable and interesting day.

Text by Brenda, Photos by Geoff, unless otherwise stated. Thanks to Woodbridge Tide Mill Trust for use of the video.

Links: Woodbridge Tide Mill

Bob explaining the process of milling
Bob explaining the process of milling




An early start  to visit Mildenhall in Suffolk enabled us to arrive there at about 10 a.m and had time for coffee before  meeting up with Mike Corbishley at St.Marys Church. Now one of

the largest  (168 feet long and 65 feet wide)  and  definitely the highest  church   in Suffolk , there has been a church on this site since 1086. The earliest part of the building, the Vestry dates from 1220 . Many original features were uncovered during restoration work in the 19th century.

There is a former chapel above the north porch, used as a schoolroom in Victorian times. From the nave it is possible to glimpse the first sight of the    original angel roof.  Between the massive beams there are a series of hammer beams carved in the shape of angels with outstretched wings. Outside the church there is the ivy covered remains of the original charnel house where bones were preserved  to make space for new burials.

Later we were free to visit the Museum , formerly two rundown cottages , which now  has a  spectacular replica set of the Roman Silver Hoard found in a field at West Row in 1942 and kept by the farmer until he was ‘rumbled’ some years later and obliged to part with it – the original now in the British Museum – he was given £1000 compensation – a considerable sum at that time.

There are also the skeletons of the  Lakenheath Warrior buried with his horse making a very moving display. The man died about AD500 and was buried with his sword and shield and a dagger. The remains of a bucket were left by the horse’s head.


Denny Abbey is a surprise – outwardly a large house – it is deceptive because on entering you are in the remains of a church.

The site was inhabited in Roman times before Benedictine monks built their church there in the 12th century. It was later taken over by he Knights Templar  as a retirement

A Shop at the Farm Museum
A Shop at the Farm Museum

home/hospital for elderly monks. In the 14th century the building was acquired by the Countess of Pembroke who set up an abbey for nuns known as Poor Clares . She converted most of the church into a private house for herself..

Following Tudor owners found the building to be a convenient farmhouse and so it remained until the 20th century when it was used as a jam factory during WW2 (Chivers). When the last farm tenant  left in the late 1960s ,archaeologists began to uncover the evidence of its earlier use. Some later additions were removed to reveal the monastic structures  leaving the curious but fascinating building seen today.

Close by  the Farmland Museum is an interesting display of local farming and country life.


Children's Activities at the Seahenge exhibit
Children’s Activities at the Seahenge exhibit

We left Colchester on a sunny morning to travel to Kings Lynn.. Our coach driver  gave us an unplanned scenic tour of the Suffolk countryside    on the way to Bressingham  where we had planned a coffee break !

On arrival in Kings Lynn we were dropped off  close to the Custom House which has overlooked this busy port for over 300 years and is now      the Tourist Office.

Mike Corbishley  led us to the Museum and gave a brief overview outside about the Seahenge discovery on the Norfolk coast.   The Seahenge    timbers and central inverted tree trunk have been carefully removed from the beach and reinstated in the museum in special glass cases to      protect them from drying out.  There is also a complete replica of how the original structure would have been seen..

Kings Lynn has a long maritime history from Saxon, Roman and Mediaeval times.

Later ,  Mike led us on a tour of the historic buildings and warehouses  along narrow cobbled alleyways and around the  historic waterfront .


Despite the chilly room in RCH (coldest day) about 90 members of the Friends and the CAT staff enjoyed a talk given by Jay Carver, Chief Archaeologist for Crossrail on the excavations in London  which are giving archaeologists  rare and exciting opportunities to study areas of London which are usually inaccessible.

The Bedlam burial ground situated beneath the site of the new Liverpool Street station was in use from the late 16th to mid 18th centuries and contains hundreds of burials in layers and was used by a hugely diverse population from different areas of the city.

Research aims to shed light on migration patterns , diet, lifestyle and demography of those living in London at the time. Excavated skeletons will be taken to the Museum of London for examination by bone specialists, before being reburied in consecrated ground.

Roman London was a walled  town  with a fortress  in the north western corner  on the banks of the Thames with major roads going west,  north and east (to Roman Colchester) close to the Walbrook a tributary of the Thames. A large number of ancient human skulls have been found along the Walbrook , these could be the  victims  of Roman  military justice although there seems to be other equally valid theories. There were known Roman cemeteries along the Fleet river, Ermine St and east London – it is possible that skulls being more solid and heavier could have been  found due to erosion and flooding in the Walbrook area.

A Roman road runs under the site which has already yielded interesting Roman artefacts such as cremation urns,  horse skulls , horseshoes (hipposandals) retrieved from  the Roman military road to the fortress..   Using new technology one of the cremation  urns has been CAT scanned  at a local hospital ( at a cost of £50).

It is planned to hold an exhibition of the finds recovered by Crossrail in 2017 in London.

AGM and Annual Lecture 6th February 2016
Following on from the AGM at RCH  in the morning  about 100 members of the Friends met at the Lion Walk at 2 p.m.  for the Annual Lecture  and tea.

Adam spoke about excavating  at Fiveways Fruit Farm ahead  of residential development. For the first  time in the history of the Trust he used a (borrowed) drone in order to get an overhead view of the site which proved to have two large square middle Iron Age enclosures, as well as a sixty square metre roundhouse , however  the main find was a defensive ditch  which was two and a half metres deep.

Guest speaker Pippa then talked about the Thaxted site in which a great amount of mainly worked animal bones were excavated. These bones were from horses and deer but  mainly sheep. They were used in the cutlery industry for which Thaxted was well known until 16th century.

Mark has again been excavating at Brightlingsea quarry  which is a large, exposed, cold site and has discovered evidence of occupation and agriculture from the Neolithic (ring ditches, low quality pottery, start of field system), Iron Age ( ring ditches continued, belted pottery and loom weights, Roman (trackways going NE-SW  to high status building/farms nearby ) and Saxon (settlement of sunken huts dug into the ground – varying sizes, and loom weights suggesting industry of some kind.)

Philip then talked about the site at 97 High St of theRoman arcade which surrounded the Temple of Claudius originally known by us since 1983. Don Shimmin has been working on the site currently being developed. (See Col.Archaeologist  Volume 27)

Philip then paid a moving tribute to retired Trust archaeologist Carl Crossan  and to Maureen Jones, a founder member of the Friends  both of whom have recently died.

Maureen was Treasurer of the Friends for about 20 years, she also worked untiringly on the renovation of Roman Circus House and was rarely seen without a paintbrush in her hand or a scythe in the garden depending on the weather.