Ipswich 1974-1990 Excavation Archive

Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service, 2015 (updated 2020)

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Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service (2020) Ipswich 1974-1990 Excavation Archive [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] https://doi.org/10.5284/1034376

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Ipswich 1974-1990 Excavation Archive

The modern town centre of Ipswich, centred at Ordnance Survey grid point TM 1590 4060, lies on the site of its Middle Saxon predecessor (Gippeswic).

Despite the recognition of the town’s early foundation in the 1950s, little opportunity was taken to undertake archaeological excavation within the historic core until the 1970s. The recognition at this time that Middle Saxon Ipswich was one of only a handful of trading settlements displaying urban characteristics (emporia / wics) elevated the town’s archaeological status to one of international importance.

Between 1974 and 1990 the 36 excavations on 34 sites archived here were carried out by the Suffolk Archaeological Unit (subsequently Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service) under the direction of Keith Wade. Much analysis had been done but further work towards publication was delayed and deferred following the introduction of Planning Policy Guidance 16 in 1990, which changed the way archaeological work was funded. The only fully published element is the 7th-century cemetery at Buttermarket (sites IAS3104 and IAS3201) which preceded the full establishment of the town (C.Scull, Early Medieval (late 5th century AD – early 8th century AD) Cemeteries at Boss Hall and Buttermarket, Ipswich, Suffolk, 2009).

The consolidation of the 1974-90 archive and the preparation of the digital archive has been funded by English Heritage (now Historic England) between 2009 and 2015. No new specialist analysis has been commissioned and readers must take note that most of the specialist reports included here were written many years ago and have not been updated.

The distribution of excavated sites is shown in the 'Interactive Map'. These sites all lie within the historic core of the town; 25 within the Anglo-Saxon and medieval defences, and nine within the medieval suburbs.

Summary narrative reports describing the chronological sequence and the range of features and activities identified for each site have been written for this project and are available from the individual site archives, which can be accessed via the 'Site List'. The data tables for the sites have been combined and are available as “IAS Coredata” via the ‘Downloads’.

The basis for the Ipswich period terms, used consistently in the summary reports and in the site context data in the Interactive Map and the Query pages is described in the ‘Chronological Framework’ document available via the ‘Downloads’..

Suffolk County Council Archaeology Service can advise on the scope of the data available here and in the non-digital archive and would be interested to hear about new research proposals.

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