Tranchet Adze from Suffolk

Tranchet adze photo

When CA’s Milton Keynes team went to Thurston, Suffolk, to conduct an excavation on a parcel of land we had previously evaluated, the majority of the features we encountered were quite poorly preserved and severely plough damaged. However, the site made up for this with some very exciting finds!

We found evidence of Early Saxon occupation within the site, in the form of a cluster of fairly shallow pits. From these, a large assemblage of animal bone was collected, and things got even more interesting during post-excavation analysis. Marks on the bones suggest they are potentially the remains of a range of carefully selected cuts of meat, possibly from feasting or another kind of high-status social gathering – this would be highly unusual evidence for the time period, which makes the results really quite special.

The most visually stunning find we recovered was this Mesolithic tranchet adze, which we literally stumbled across during a site meeting in the evaluation phase – it was just sitting in the topsoil! Our lithics specialist, Jacky Sommerville, said: “The defining characteristic of a tranchet adze is that the tip was sharpened with one or more tranchet removals – i.e. transverse/sideways – which are probably most clearly shown in Aleks Osinska’s illustration. They only occur during the Mesolithic period (10,000-4,000 BC).” An adze is generally considered to be a woodworking tool, like a plane, so there’s every possibility that’s how this was used.

Anna Woolf (Project Officer)

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