A reminder that we have a dig coming up from 29th September to 2nd October at Hill Farm Gestingthorpe


day 4.5
May 2017 Old Barn Field

How to join SVCA

We don’t have a web site, just this blog and facebook.

All people joining in with our activities need to be paid up members so that they are covered by our insurance.

Membership costs £10 a year for individuals and £15 a year for families or couples.

For more information please email Corinne Cox at

stourvalleyarchaeology@gmail.com New members will be sure to receive a warm welcome


Having organised an occasional extra day’s excavation on June 30th, such was the enthusiasm and excitement of diggers that an additional 3 days were added to Phase 2 from July13th -15th.

Concentrating once more upon Trench G26, 4 slots were opened up along the cobbled ditch feature following its length in a northerly direction. A noticeable pattern had emerged of large broken pottery vessels containing or closely associated with similar sized lengths of bone from the fore-limbs of pigs or occasionally pig jawbones. These were regularly spaced along the length of the ditch feature above or fixed within the cobbled surface.

There was evidence of burnt material associated with the finds, some still within the interior of the vessels containing the bone. All this deposition hints at some form of ritual tradition or regular ‘Pig Fests’!

In slot 1 (which contained 1st – 3rd c. pottery) was found a pierced base and much of the body of a large vessel that was reminiscent of a type of continental cheese press or drainer. On the edge of this slot there were also a large number of burnt or worked flints as well as a loom weight and the usual bone remains. This slot revealed that below the dark ditch feature there was an earlier ditch, which given the occurrence of several snails, indicated that it was an open ditch for  some time, possibly being a boundary or enclosure ditch.

Slot 2 contained bone & pottery dating from 2nd – 3rd/4th c. and some interesting flints. A small piece of fine, clear glass was also found.

Slot 3 contained some interesting Iron Age pottery along with 2nd, 3rd & 4th c. pottery, including some sherds of Oxford ware.

Slot 4 showed signs of heavy burning and contained pottery dating from 1st-4th c.

On the final day, Corinne brought some replica brooches from the Romano-British period (annular, penannular & bow fibula) and demonstrated how each type were used…..unlocking for many the intricacies of these previously puzzling fasteners!

Despite extremes of weather, everyone participating enjoyed their experiences and there was a very happy atmosphere. Several new members and visitors were enthused by their first finds and have already booked places for the next phase of excavations which will take place from Friday 29th September until Monday 2nd October.

If you would like to join us, please contact Corinne to book your place : stourvalleyarchaeology@gmail.com New members will be sure to receive a warm welcome.


Medieval Graffiti and a trip to a working forge.

Yesterday we completed a medieval graffiti survey of Gestingthorpe Church. There were some very interesting apotropaic markings around the font and in the chancel. Afterward we walked down to the fascinating village forge to see

the 4th generation blacksmith at work.


Romano British Dig Day 5 30th May 2017


Day 5

The final day of Phase 2 excavations 2017 concentrated on Trench G26.  Day 4 had revealed a number of bones on the site, lying above the flint cobbled surface, all associated with pottery fragments. Those that were least degraded were carefully excavated & removed by Corinne during the day. What was thought to be a scapula yesterday was in fact a pig’s left lower jawbone. Teeth were present but most were de-laminated although still embedded in the jawbone. The femur (?) bone nearby was surrounded by pottery sherds and large flints but was successfully removed in one piece. The largest sherd of pottery found today was uncovered by a new member, Mary. It had incised grooves and cross hatching patterning on it.

Ashley was again pleased to be able to validate his earlier discoveries in this area, especially as some of the sherds matched the patterning of some he had discovered & recorded several years ago in this area. By the end of the day the outline and direction of the ditch running north-south could be clearly seen, along with pockets of burnt deposits and flint cobbles.

As the temperature rose during the afternoon, signs of increasing fatigue began to be noticed amongst diggers of a certain age, evidenced by the varied methods of sitting and kneeling whilst trowelling back the rapidly hardening clay. Phil, having misplaced his trusty kneeler/seat, resorted to using an upturned bucket, which proved to be more comfortable but also gave him an uncanny resemblance to ‘Oor Wullie’ (a cartoon character in the Sunday Post)!

Feedback from this phase of the 2017 excavations was very positive, everyone commenting on having had a most enjoyable, rewarding experience in a friendly environment and all eager to participate in Phase 3 which takes place from 28th September until 3rd October. Such was the enthusiasm to continue, that the first of a series of occasional excavation days has been arranged for Saturday 3rd June.  If you would like to book a place for this day, please contact Corinne : 01787 379410 or  e-mail : stourvalleyarchaeology@gmail.com

Finally, a big “Thank You” to Ashley for all his support which enables these excavations to take place.                                                     (C.Cox)



SVCA Romano British excavations day 4 29th May 2017

Members taking part in today’s excavations might be forgiven for thinking we were offering them the opportunity to experience life in the Somme trenches this morning! However, with good humour the waterlogged trenches were soon cleared with the aid of Peter Hart’s trusty canoe baler and as the sun emerged the clay began to dry out making life a little easier and boots a little less heavy!

New areas of Trench C were cleaned back by a few members whilst the majority set to work excavating more of Trench G26. Close to the area where the vessel containing the burnt material and bone were discovered on Day 3, a large femur bone as well as other bones were found amongst the flint area (species not yet identified). Lots of pottery sherds were also found in this trench and the edge of a ditch noted at the end of the day.

Thanks are due to all those members who braved the mud, some of whom had travelled from Hertfordshire and also some new members for whom it was their first day on this site.



SVCA excavations day 3 28th May 2017

Day 3 of our Romano British dig
A new area of the site was opened up today, Trench G26. This was where Ashley, several years ago, had discovered an area of flint cobbles and a nearby ditch. During the day these flints were revealed and several sherds of pottery were found. .
In one area of this trench the body of a large vessel was uncovered which contained bone and burnt material.
Slot trenches were dug in the newly extended areas of Trench C during the morning and sections drawn in the afternoon. In Trench F an interesting group of large flints was uncovered adjacent to where the boar skull was discovered recently. Further investigation of this area will be undertaken on Day 4, as will investigation of another potential post hole at the eastern end of Trench C. Have we discovered a possible cobbled pathway to a wayside shrine……? The site continues to produce more interesting conundrums



day 1 1day 1.2day 1.3day 2.1day 2.2day 2.4day 2.4DAY 1

Friday 26th May was the first day of Phase 2 of our 2017 excavations of the Romano-British site at Bulmer/Gestingthorpe.

Despite some very hot temperatures during the day our members set to work with much gusto attacking the clay and continuing to open up more of Trench C & Trench F. The excavation at the end of April had revealed what appears to be a flint cobbled trackway or droveway which possibly continues on the other side of the ditch, Trench B. The aim today was to widen (with the help of Ashley’s digger) and extend Trench C as well as Trench F, to determine the extent and direction of the cobbled areas. More sherds of pottery were discovered above and packed around the flint layer as well as Ashley’s find of the day, a piece of green/brown glass.

Peter Nice also uncovered another piece of animal horn in a similar context to one he had found in Trench C last year, amongst the flint layer.


DAY 2 ( Saturday 27th May 2017)

Armed with sunhats & covered with sunscreen, more members joined yesterday’s intrepid diggers…….however, a thunderous sky soon erupted in a heavy downpour of hail & rain which meant that much of the sunscreen was washed away! Bravely carrying on (the clay was a bit easier to dig for a while!) but having to shelter for a while mid-morning, we soon dried out as the sunshine, clear skies & heat returned later.

Just before midday Ashley brought a group of visitors taking part in the SVEN ‘Rambles with Romans’ event at Hill Farm. The younger members of the group were given the opportunity to experience ‘hands on’ archaeology in an area of Trench A and in a very short time found many sherds of pottery, including large rims & small bases.

In Trench C more pieces of brown/green glass were found as well as a fine Samian base and a sherd of Iron Age pottery and older flint tools.

More small sherds of Samian ware were also found in Trench E



Romano British excavation May 26th-30th

Keep an eye out for updates on the blog and facebook.


Revealing the Heritage of the Brecks Conference

Revealing the Heritage of the Brecks Conference Saturday 24 June 2017 10:00 – 16:00 The Carnegie Room, Cage Lane, Thetford, IP24 2EA Since 2014, the Breaking New Ground Landscape Partnership Scheme has delivered a wide range of projects focussed on the rich natural and historic environment of the Norfolk and Suffolk Brecks. As the project enters its final months, we are holding a oneday conference to celebrate the numerous heritage projects undertaken by volunteers as part of the scheme. Tickets are free and can be booked using the link below. A free buffet lunch, tea and coffee are also provided.

Revealing the Heritage of the Brecks Flyer