CA Suffolk’s Top 5 Finds in 5 Years…

The Suffolk office have uncovered some remarkable archaeological artefacts over the last 5 years. Thanks to the wonders of our Virtual Museum, we can now explore some of these from the comfort of our very own homes. Here are the Top 5 Finds that have captured our imaginations and stolen our hearts…

1. Enamelled Plate Brooch: A Quackers Find

Our list of Suffolk’s Top 5 Finds begins with a charming enamelled plate brooch cast in the form of a swimming duck, found at Mildenhall. This delightful little piece, likely dating back to the 2nd century AD, showcases intricate champlevé enamelling techniques. The brooch may have symbolised honesty, simplicity, and resourcefulness, allowing us to ‘dive’ into the beliefs and values of its wearer… 🦆

Duck brooch

2. Anglo-Saxon Pottery Jar: Pottery Perfection

At the western edge of a burial ground in Eriswell, a grave, likely belonging to an adult male, yielded a variety of grave goods including this pottery jar. This is one of a pair, boasting a flaring rim, rounded base, and decorative elements of incised lines and stamped motifs forming small pendant triangles. The burial ground, comprising 271 graves, was active from the latter half of the 5th century to the middle of the 7th century. Additional grave goods found in this grave include a spiral-headed pin, buckles, a shield, a spear, and a knife, with the shield placed horizontally over the face alongside the jar. This perfectly preserved jar teaches us about the afterlife beliefs of the people who lived in Suffolk approximately 1,600 years ago.

sub-biconical jar

3. Silver Bird Brooch: Bird Bling

The team were flying high with this rare find – a cast silver zoomorphic plate brooch shaped like a bird. Dating to the middle or later Anglo-Saxon period (c. 850-1100), this exquisite brooch showcases fine craftsmanship and intricate detailing. The brooch takes the form of a bird facing right, featuring a sizable, pellet-like eye, a triangular tail, and relatively short legs. The wing is rendered rather crudely characterised by a diminutive size and showcasing a decorative ‘spiraloid’ motif. Its form, neither fully Scandinavian in design nor carrying a cross, adds to its enigmatic allure.

Silver bird brooch

4. Liturgical Comb: Detangling the Past

Unravel the tangles of medieval life with this intricately carved ivory comb. Recovered during the community excavations at Clare Castle, it is made from African elephant ivory and would have had decorative panels on either side. One panel depicts the hind legs of a beast that could be a griffin set amidst the foliage. The other side is decorated with a lion, one of a possible pair with the second now missing. It appears that, at some point in its past, the teeth began to break and rather than discarding such a fine object, these were neatly sawn away leaving the decorative panels to be reused…

Liturgical comb

5. Tranchet Adze: Tools of the Trade

Rounding out our list of Suffolk’s Top 5 Finds is a humble yet significant artefact – the tranchet adze. This woodworking tool, found on the surface of a Suffolk field, offers insights into the craftsmanship of humans roughly 8,000 years ago. With its crude flaking and sharpening scars, it tells a story of hands-on labour and the tools used to shape the world around us.

Tranchet adze

Over the past five years, the Suffolk office has unearthed an array of archaeological wonders, shedding light on the rich history of the region. If you’re eager to go beyond our list of Suffolk’s Top 5 Finds, you can more East Anglian artefacts on our Virtual Museum. Just click the button below and embark on your adventure through Suffolk’s past…

Indie Jago
Outreach and Community Engagement Officer

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