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Archaeological finds at Land East of the Granary

Suffolk Archaeological Service made some exciting finds when digging at the Land East of the Granary site prior to building work beginning by Charles Church.

What seems to be a large boundary ditch crosses the whole site from SE to NW. At the front of the site along Stoke Road there was another ditch, parallel with the road. Across this, medieval dwellings had been built on platforms: evidence of postholes and clay floors, together with nearby middens and rubbish holes.

Many artefacts were found across the site: a Mesolithic axehead (8000BC?), worked flints and then a mass of material of medieval origin: pottery, silver ring and brooch, bricks and tiles, animal bones (mainly cattle), oysters. Worked flints have been found all across Clare, from the Common to the castle grounds, suggesting continual Neolithic occupation.

The principal find, some 40m behind the dwellings, was the bottom section of a medieval kiln, provisionally dated to the 14thcentury (around the time when Elizabeth de Burgh was extending the Priory buildings and the town was beginning to expand as the cloth trade grew). It has two furnace areas arched over with bricks separated by slots to allow hot air to pass upwards. Clay for the bricks was extracted a few metres away and formed into bricks using wooden moulds. These were stacked on edge to dry off and then stacked again into the kiln, across the arches. Some of the recovered bricks have imprints from the wood moulds and marks from the edges of bricks stacked upon them. The walls of the kiln probably rose two metres above the furnaces. The kiln may have been used for a few decades – being used for tiles rather than bricks at the end of its life. Such kilns were worked in the winter – once the fields had been harvested, wood being brought in from elsewhere.

Elsewhere on the site there are traces of malting ovens, made of clay, very simple in construction unlike the brick kiln.

This site seems to represent an ‘industrial’ complex. While kilns of this type are not rare in England, they are an unusual find for Suffolk from the medieval period.

The record of the discoveries will be published in due course by Suffolk Archaeological Service, after a full assessment of the finds and scientific dating.

Local residents were invited to view the finds and hear about the site from Archaeological Officers. Andrew Tester, Snr Project Officer reported to Clare Town Council afterwards: "We enjoyed it and it was good to see that so many local people take an interest in the history/archaeology that is on their doorstep".

Story By: Cllr. Phil Gryce

Date : 05-09-2013