Exploring at Barber's Point Open Day 2013 © Oliver Salathiel

Exploring at Barber's Point Open Day 2013 © Oliver Salathiel


Touching the Tide (TtT) has run three major digs, as well as providing training in archaeological techniques for interested volunteers.

THE FIRST DIG WAS AT BARBERS POINT, NEAR ALDEBURGH, IN 2013. When the Saxons lived and were buried there it was an island; following the December 2013 storm surge it’s an island once again. This is truly an ever changing coast. The Aldeburgh and District Local History Society (ADLHS), supported by TtT, excavated an early Saxon Christian cemetery and found 8 skeletons. ADLHS produced a superb blog and video diary of the dig (click on DIG 2013). You can also download or order your copy of our guide "Life & Death at Barber's Point".

The C14 dates range from around 500 AD to the 680s AD, showing a slightly longer period of use than we might have anticipated. The C14 dating reports for the casket girl, and for the rest of the skeletons we could sample are available and this quick guide may help you to understand the reports better.

Barber's Point is part of Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Hazlewood Marshes Nature Reserve. The reserve closed following flooding in the December 2013 tidal surge. Touching the Tide is helping to fund work so this reserve can re-open as an intertidal, rather than freshwater, reserve. 

THE SOUTHWOLD & REYDON 2014 DIG FOR THE PAST (SAR14) was an unqualified success. Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA) and Touching the Tide with the support of Southwold Museum & Historical Society led this major community archaeology event in Southwold and Reydon with a total of 16 test pits being dug by members of the public in back gardens, allotments and on a caravan site.


Test pitting involves excavating a 1 metre square trench in 10cm layers, with finds being recorded as you go - up to a maximum depth of 1.2 metres. Each pit records the waxing and waning of the town over time. Together all the pits build up a picture of the pattern of settlement from prehistoric times until today. The full report is now available.

Take a look at Southwold Museum volunteer Sarah Groves' photosets which give a flavour of this exciting weekend.

Day 1: The first pits are dug & the first treasures are found including a piece of burnt, shaped flint.

Day 2: The first pits are closed (!) and pottery from both Roman and medieval times is found.

Day 3: Lots more treasures including worked flints, an arrowhead,  more medieval pottery & a post hole.

Day 4: A tigerish piece of pottery and all the finds are displayed at a wrap-up meeting.

DUNWICH WAS THE SITE OF OUR FINAL DIG IN 2015 when 53 volunteers dug out the equivalent of 97 Mini Coopers in the Dunwich Dig - by hand! Ranging in age from six to eighty these fantastic volunteers not only developed their muscles but discovered artefacts and more about Dunwich in the many trenches they worked in. The full report is available here.


Enjoy the photo galleries from volunteer Sarah Groves and from Access Cambridge Archaeology. We also appeared on ITV AngliaCarenza Lewis will be presenting the findings in Dunwich on Friday 11th March 2016.

Five hundred people visited the site during excavations. We dug 4 trenches and 9 test pits, mostly in the area between Greyfriars and the cliffs i.e. in the last surviving part of medieval Dunwich. Here are some of the results:

- we found significant evidence of prehistoric occupation from the Neolithic period onwards, perhaps older

- we found a lot of evidence for Anglo Saxon activity - more than was previously thought

- we confirmed that the old quay was indeed where the beach car park is now, and we unearthed post holes from the revetments at the quayside as well as buried estuarine mud

- we found more medieval pottery than any previous dig including Time Team

- we found that St James Street (the road that goes past The Ship pub) did not continue straight on into town as had been thought - the route was blocked by a couple of medieval floors so it cannot have continued as more than a footpath at most.  Perhaps it always curved around the harbour (car park) as now. 

This dig was a partnership between Touching the Tide, Dunwich Greyfriars TrustDunwich Museum and Access Cambridge Archaeology.


A day learning about Fieldwalking - surveying the field immediately behind the new housing estate in Snape village. The finds distribution mapthe report on pottery, and the report on flint are all available.

An introduction to Geophysics.  This may have unearthed a previously unknown, possibly high status, Saxon village. That can't be confirmed without an exploratory dig and as the land ownership has since changed, we haven't been able to investigate further. Nonetheless you can read all about it.

A training course on Fieldwalking in Covehithe. We found that the village was significantly larger than had been thought, spreading well inland of the church.  It survived the Black Death much better than most settlements and continued to thrive into the early modern period. The pottery report and pottery map show how the village has changed over the centuries. 

A course for potential field walking organisers. Both ADLHS and Southwold Museum hope to start fieldwalking programmes of their own, and we will be buying some kit for them.