Archaeological discoveries at Abbots Vale

Abbots Vale in Bury St Edmunds has become the focal point of an archaeological project, revealing a rich array of historical artefacts dating back to the Mesolithic period.

Recognising the significance of these findings, Suffolk County Council’s Archaeology Service has called for further exploration resulting in a joint project between Oxford Archaeology, Hopkins Homes and RPS Consulting. This partnership highlights a shared commitment to preserving local history while advancing responsible development practices.

Since mid-January, a dedicated team from Oxford Archaeology has been meticulously scouring the Abbots Vale site, investigating and documenting archaeological remnants ahead of redevelopment, for which Hopkins Homes gained approval at West Suffolk Council’s recent planning committee in March.

Our scheme includes plans for a community of 363 energy-efficient new homes on land adjacent to the A134 at Rushbrooke Lane. The approved plan includes extensive open space that will feature sports pitches, children’s equipped play area and enhanced landscaping, accommodating additional native tree species and green spaces.

Initial archaeological investigations conducted in 2014 and 2022 revealed multi-period remains dating from the Mesolithic (c.10,000-7,000 BC) to the Anglo-Saxon era (c. AD 410-650).  A staggering 8 hectares (19.5 acres) of Abbots Vale is planned for archaeological investigation, with the team poised to delve into approximately six months of exploration.

Notable findings to date include what is believed to be a Bronze Age barrow or funerary monument, characterised by a large circular ditch containing remnants such as struck flint and Bronze Age pottery. Additionally, the team has uncovered evidence of extensive Early Anglo-Saxon activity, including Sunken Feature Buildings (SFBs) believed to have served as workshops for various industries.

Edward Bathgate, Pre-Development Manager for Hopkins Homes, expressed his excitement about the archaeological investigation:

“As a company deeply committed to responsible development and preserving local heritage, we are excited to support this extensive archaeological investigation at Abbots Vale. The discoveries made so far highlight the rich history of this area and reaffirm our dedication to working collaboratively with experts from Oxford Archaeology to ensure the proper documentation and protection of these significant finds.”

Louise Moan, Senior Project Manager for Oxford Archaeology, echoed this sentiment, describing the dig as a captivating project that enriches the tapestry of Suffolk’s history.

“Overseeing the Abbots Vale dig is a fascinating opportunity. Our team is thrilled by the breadth and depth of discoveries so far. Each find adds a layer to the intricate tapestry of Suffolk’s history, and we’re eager to continue our exploration and share our findings with the community.”

As the archaeological works progress, Oxford Archaeology will provide regular updates on progress and findings via their dedicated blog:

Overall, the Abbots Vale site promises to yield a wealth of captivating insights and exciting discoveries, highlighting the importance of preserving and celebrating Suffolk’s rich cultural heritage.

Hopkins Homes expects to begin construction on site this summer. The Rushbrooke Lane development promises to be an attractive, sustainable new community that respects the distinctive fabric, landscape, and heritage of Bury St Edmunds.

To register your interest in the homes at Abbots Vale click here.

man excavating a deer antler