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Archaeology project unearths rare Roman artefacts in Long Melford

A series of rare artefacts dating back to the Roman Empire, and even later, have been discovered in Long Melford.

Among the objects unearthed was a tool – crafted from a sheep’s leg bone – which is thought to have been used as a bobbin by workers in the weaving trade during the Romano British era.

Engraved markings have been etched on the object, which experts say could relate to yarn, a piece of fibre typically used to create various textiles.

Anne Grimshaw, Valerie Wiseman from Long Melford Heritage Centre with pottery expert Alice Lyons. (32370855)
Anne Grimshaw, Valerie Wiseman from Long Melford Heritage Centre with pottery expert Alice Lyons. (32370855)

On first inspection, members of Long Melford Heritage Centre had identified the object as a whistle or knife handle due to its distinctive shape.

More than 2,500 fragments of pottery dating back to the Roman and Iron Age were also discovered during the excavation.

Pottery expert Alice Lyons, who inspected the objects, said: “It was most unusual to have a secure, complete stratification sequence, proving occupation from the Iron Age through to the end of the Roman period.”

A large quantity of sheep and cattle bones containing butchery markings were also unearthed, an indication to the meat processing trade that took place in the village.

Other items of pottery were identified as imported pieces from Europe, including Spain, France and Germany.

A bronze woman’s hairpin and tweezers from the Roman era, along with balancing weights, were unearthed, which provided insight into the type of trade that took place during that period.

Leading the excavation project in the village, which was known as a prominent Roman town, Kenneth Dodd and district councillor John Nunn said they were both delighted with the rare discoveries.

After trowelling and sieving through six tonnes of soil, Mr Nunn said: “We believe that archaeological work carried out by the Long Melford Heritage Centre in recent years has considerably added to the knowledge and history of Long Melford.”