Archaeology in the Park
Medieval past unearthed at Clare Castle Country Park
The remains of a large Medieval building, ovens and other finds have been revealed in Clare Castle Country Park. Archaeological excavations were undertaken during September on behalf of the Park Trustees by Suffolk Archaeology.
‘The dig has been very successful, involving nearly 100 volunteers, all of whom have contributed to improving our understanding of the Outer Bailey of the castle.’ said Jo Caruth from Suffolk Archaeology.
In addition to the support and work of volunteers, 95 students, staff and parents from Stour Valley Community School visited the site over a 3 week period. Under the expert guidance of Alex Fisher from Suffolk Archaeology, they toured the site and sifted through the spoil to discover a variety of finds from animal bones and daub to a shoe buckle and part of a brooch. Many pupils from Clare Primary school also toured the site to get an understanding of what the finds might mean.
‘We have found evidence of a large building, a yard area and a couple of ovens.’ said Jo Caruth. ‘One of the ovens was perhaps used for bread and one possibly for malting. We’d expect to find evidence of bakeries, kitchens and brewhouses in the outer bailey area. As well as this, we have also unearthed an area at the south end of the site where previous inhabitants of the Castle appear to have dumped rubbish. We have found lots of Medieval pottery and food waste as well as iron objects such as horseshoes and horseshoe nails.’
The trenches have now been back filled and the area is being covered with silt from the moat dredging. This is all part of the range of ongoing works to improve the Park with the support of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
‘Now that the digging has finished,’ said Jo, ‘we have many months of examining finds and site data including some enigmatic objects whose interpretation is still under discussion but which could be rushlight holders or a specialised type of arrowhead that pre-dates the 14th Century.’
The archaeological excavations have lived up to our expectations’, said Professor Richard Smith, a historian and one of the Park Trustees and volunteer in the digs, ‘they have enriched our understanding of the outer bailey area and we have also found some evidence of Anglo-Saxon activity that pre-dates the castle; some of it as early as the 7th Century AD. We look forward to finding out more as the examinations continue.’
There are more archaeological excavations planned for a different area of the Park in 2019.