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Medieval items unearthed during Abbey of St Edmund community dig

Graham Manning (blue hat) from the heritage partnership with Edward Simmons and Amber Bentham at the community archaelogical dig at the former Eastgate Nurseries Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

Graham Manning (blue hat) from the heritage partnership with Edward Simmons and Amber Bentham at the community archaelogical dig at the former Eastgate Nurseries Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

Archant

A medieval ring and pottery has been unearthed during a community archaeological dig in part of the former Abbey of St Edmund.

Amber Bentham who was among the community volunteers who took part in the archaelogical dig at the former Eastgate Nurseries Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCILAmber Bentham who was among the community volunteers who took part in the archaelogical dig at the former Eastgate Nurseries Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

The dig, which took place over two days, saw 32 members of the public aid an archaeological excavation of the former Eastgate Nurseries across the River Lark from Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds.

The site will accommodate new tennis courts, a picnic area, the town's fire beacon and link paths providing easier routes between Ram Meadow and No Man's Meadow.

Last year the former St Edmundsbury Borough Council was granted consent to move the current tennis courts in Abbey Gardens to a different location.

The move will pave the way for an excavation at the old tennis courts, which could finally solve the mystery of where Saint Edmund's remains lie following speculation the Saxon King is buried at the site.

Three pieces of medieval pottery including 16th Cistercian ware (the brown and yellow piece) and a sherd of 12th-14th century Grimston ware, the green glazed piece and piece of plain Bury ware, also 12th-14th century Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCILThree pieces of medieval pottery including 16th Cistercian ware (the brown and yellow piece) and a sherd of 12th-14th century Grimston ware, the green glazed piece and piece of plain Bury ware, also 12th-14th century Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

MORE: Could the remains of St Edmund finally be found?

The community dig was the first to take place since the formation of the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership in 2016.

Archaeological investigations showed that the river terrace was extensively quarried, from around the 12th century for the sand and gravels that were probably used in the construction of the stone buildings in the abbey.

The dig also found animal bones and traces of clay lined pits as evidence of a tannery which was on the site close to the Abbots Bridge.

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Reverend Canon Matthew Vernon, chair of the heritage partnership, said: "The Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership is keen, whenever it can, to invite local residents and visitors to get involved in this work to help develop a better understanding of the significance of the Abbey of St Edmund area.

"We are already looking at how best to engage the local and wider community in some of the archaeological investigations that could take place within the area over the next few years.

"On this occasion, there was an opportunity for a limited number of people to take part in a supervised community archaeological dig.

"This was on the site of what will become the new tennis courts and a new picnic area at the former Eastgate Nurseries adjoining the Abbey Gardens. We look forward to sharing the findings of these archaeological investigations more fully in due course."

MORE: 'Immense amount' of ancient abbey remains undiscovered, studies reveal

Next year, a number of events are planned to celebrate 1,000 years of the Abbey.

Joanna Rayner, West Suffolk Council cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: "What is great, is the sense of renewed interest not just in St Edmund but also the Abbey of St Edmund, of which the Abbey Gardens is just a part.

"The archaeological investigations could add more to our understanding of this wonderful heritage area which has great national and international significance.

"We look forward to engaging people in its story in new and exciting ways when, as a community, we share celebrating 1000 years of the Abbey in 2020."

The heritage partnership relies on volunteers and is looking for more people to offer their skills and expertise.

Anyone who can offer assistance should e-mail lorna.heritage@protonmail.com

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