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Blythburgh Priory

Blythburgh Priory

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Published by Wessex Archaeology
In October 2008 an archaeological evaluation was undertaken by Channel 4’s ‘Time Team’ at the site of the Scheduled Ancient Monument of Blythburgh Priory in Blythburgh, Suffolk (Scheduled Ancient Monument Number SF215), to investigate the remains of the Augustinian Priory. The Priory remains are centred on NGR 645202 275398.
Activity within the area is known from the prehistoric to the Roman period but it was from the Saxon period onwards that the area became more intensively occupied. The Blythburgh area is reported as the site of the battle in AD 654 in which King Anna, the nephew of King Raedwald of the East Angles (who is thought to buried at Sutton Hoo), was killed by King Penda of Mercia. Anna was buried at Blythburgh, either in the church of the Holy Trinity, or in the priory area to the east. His remains became the focus of pilgrimage, and his tomb was still being venerated by pilgrims in the 12th century. It is possible that the church at Blythburgh was one of the Minsters of King Ælfwald, who died in 749. Blythburgh church was granted to the Canons of St. Osyth’s Priory in Essex in 1120 by Henry I and had developed into a successful Augustinian monastic complex by the 13th and 14th centuries. The remains of the Priory are still upstanding.
No intrusive archaeological work has previously been undertaken within the Priory complex, and little is understood of its layout or development, although a number of small evaluations have taken place within the vicinity of the Site, and several scattered finds have been recovered.
The evaluation located at least two inhumation burials which pre-dated the Priory complex; these were radiocarbon dated to AD 670-780 and AD 890-1020 respectively. What may have been the vallum monasteria; the enclosing ditch around the monastic complex, was also revealed. The two early graves had been disturbed by the construction of the nave of the priory church, probably in the 11th or 12th century, and by the extension to the single-celled church by the addition of a crossing-tower and extended chancel. No clear date for this later extension was ascertained, but the recovery of a 14th century brooch from a burial at the eastern end of the extension provides a possible terminus post quem.
In October 2008 an archaeological evaluation was undertaken by Channel 4’s ‘Time Team’ at the site of the Scheduled Ancient Monument of Blythburgh Priory in Blythburgh, Suffolk (Scheduled Ancient Monument Number SF215), to investigate the remains of the Augustinian Priory. The Priory remains are centred on NGR 645202 275398.
Activity within the area is known from the prehistoric to the Roman period but it was from the Saxon period onwards that the area became more intensively occupied. The Blythburgh area is reported as the site of the battle in AD 654 in which King Anna, the nephew of King Raedwald of the East Angles (who is thought to buried at Sutton Hoo), was killed by King Penda of Mercia. Anna was buried at Blythburgh, either in the church of the Holy Trinity, or in the priory area to the east. His remains became the focus of pilgrimage, and his tomb was still being venerated by pilgrims in the 12th century. It is possible that the church at Blythburgh was one of the Minsters of King Ælfwald, who died in 749. Blythburgh church was granted to the Canons of St. Osyth’s Priory in Essex in 1120 by Henry I and had developed into a successful Augustinian monastic complex by the 13th and 14th centuries. The remains of the Priory are still upstanding.
No intrusive archaeological work has previously been undertaken within the Priory complex, and little is understood of its layout or development, although a number of small evaluations have taken place within the vicinity of the Site, and several scattered finds have been recovered.
The evaluation located at least two inhumation burials which pre-dated the Priory complex; these were radiocarbon dated to AD 670-780 and AD 890-1020 respectively. What may have been the vallum monasteria; the enclosing ditch around the monastic complex, was also revealed. The two early graves had been disturbed by the construction of the nave of the priory church, probably in the 11th or 12th century, and by the extension to the single-celled church by the addition of a crossing-tower and extended chancel. No clear date for this later extension was ascertained, but the recovery of a 14th century brooch from a burial at the eastern end of the extension provides a possible terminus post quem.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Wessex Archaeology on Nov 03, 2009
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Wessex Archaeology 
September 2009Ref: 68742 
Blythburgh PrioryBlythburgh,Suffolk
 Archaeological Evaluation and Assessment of Results
 
Blythburgh Priory, Blythburgh, SuffolkArchaeological Evaluation and Assessment of Results
Prepared on behalf of 
Videotext Communications Ltd49 Goldhawk RoadLONDONSW1 8QP
By
Wessex ArchaeologyPortway HouseOld Sarum ParkSALISBURYWiltshireSP4 6EB
Report reference: 68742.01
September 2009
© Wessex Archaeology Limited 2009, all rights reserved Wessex Archaeology Limited is a Registered Charity No. 287786 
 
Blythburgh Priory, Blythburgh, SuffolkArchaeological Evaluation and Assessment of Results
Contents
Summary Acknowledgements
1BACKGROUND...................................................................................................11.1Introduction...............................................................................................11.2Site Location, Topography and Geology................................................11.3Archaeological and Historical Background...........................................1
Introduction.................................................................................................1Prehistoric...................................................................................................1Romano-British (AD 43- 410).....................................................................2  Anglo-Saxon (AD 410-1066)......................................................................2 Medieval - Post-Medieval (1066-1799).......................................................2 Modern (1800-present)...............................................................................3
1.4Previous Archaeological Work................................................................42AIMS AND OBJECTIVES...................................................................................43METHODS...........................................................................................................43.1Geophysical Survey.................................................................................43.2Landscape and Earthwork Survey..........................................................53.3Evaluation Trenches................................................................................54RESULTS............................................................................................................54.1Introduction...............................................................................................54.2Geophysical Survey.................................................................................5
Magnetic Survey.........................................................................................6 Resistance Survey......................................................................................6 Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) Survey..................................................7 Conclusions................................................................................................9
4.3Evaluation Trenches................................................................................9
Introduction.................................................................................................9Site-Wide Stratigraphy................................................................................9Trench 1 ( 
Figure 3
 )....................................................................................9Trench 2 ( 
Figure 3
 )..................................................................................10 Trench 3 ( 
Figure 1
 )..................................................................................10 Trench 4 ( 
Figure 4
 )..................................................................................10 Trench 5 ( 
Figure 5 
 )..................................................................................11Trench 6 ( 
Figure 5 
 )..................................................................................11Trench 7 ( 
Figure 6 
 )..................................................................................12 Trench 8 ( 
Figure 5 
 )..................................................................................12 Trench 9 ( 
Figure 4
 )..................................................................................13Trench 10 ( 
Figure 7 
 )................................................................................13Trench 11 ( 
Figure 9, Plate 19
 )................................................................14Trench 12 ( 
Figure 9, Plate 20 
 )................................................................14Trench 13 ( 
Figure 1
 )................................................................................14Trench 14 ( 
Figure 4
 )................................................................................14Trench 15 ( 
Figure 5 
 )................................................................................15 Trench 16/17 ( 
Figure 8 
 )...........................................................................15 
5FINDS................................................................................................................155.1Introduction.............................................................................................15
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