IN THE NICK OF TIME
Our changing coast is full of surprises. Sometimes it changes before our eyes. It did at Barber’s Point. We had just completed an archaeological dig on this peninsula that we knew had once been an island.
On the night of December 5th 2013 a tidal surge made it an island once again when the sea wall was breached.
To give an idea of the inundation resulting from the surge, this was previously the access track used for the dig team and visitors!
More than a thousand years ago people lived, died and were buried on the island nestling in the loop of the River Alde. The picture below is an aerial view of the site after the surge. The dig site can just be seen as a brown patch in the green area in the bottom left of the picture.
A generation of these people, born as pagans and buried as Christians, had long intrigued archaeologists. Medieval river walls had transformed the island into the Barber’s Point peninsula but the December 2013 tidal surge breached the sea wall. Whether this floodwater will remain is under discussion.
AN UNEXPECTED DOLPHIN IN THE RIVER
Before we’d even started digging we found something amazing on the first day. A metal detector unearthed an exquisite dolphin, probably worn on a thong around a Roman neck. Further investigation has revealed that our Roman dolphin is more likely to be a Victorian whale.
We later excavated eight Anglo-Saxon skeletons. Lying at the feet of a young woman were the remnants of her treasures box, including a spindle whorl, ring, iron key, a fragment of Roman glass, a lump of amber and what appeared to be a duck or goose egg.
But removing all the surrounding soil revealed that this was no egg. Any ideas? Scroll down the page to find out …
It is a panther cowrie shell from the Red Sea and likely to have passed through several traders’ hands before being exchanged for goods from this isolated Suffolk community.
WANT TO DIG DEEPER?
For a fantastic blog and video diary of the Barber's Point dig visit the Aldeburgh & District Local History Society web site.