Area of Middle and Late Saxon town between Upper Brook Street and Upper Orwell Street


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Location Description:
Area of land to the north of Tacket Street, between Upper Brook Street and Upper Orwell Street, lying to east and west of Cox Lane.
Statutory Address:
Tacket Street, Upper Barclay Street & Cox Lane, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 1EJ


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Statutory Address:
Tacket Street, Upper Barclay Street & Cox Lane, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 1EJ

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Area of land to the north of Tacket Street, between Upper Brook Street and Upper Orwell Street, lying to east and west of Cox Lane.
Ipswich (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


The scheduled area lies to the west and south of the known production site of the Ipswich pottery industry (AD C7-C9), of which it is likely to have formed a part.

Reasons for Designation

The area of Middle and Late Saxon town between Upper Brook Street and Upper Orwell Street is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Period: based on the evidence of sites excavated within the Anglo-Saxon and medieval town, and on finds from within the site, the scheduled area is likely to contain evidence of occupation and use from the Anglo-Saxon period into the C19;

* Rarity: such continuity of occupation on urban sites, and the good survival of evidence of Anglo-Saxon occupation, in a relatively undisturbed state, is rare;

* Documentation: the significance of surviving archaeological remains is enhanced by the records of finds and previous investigation in the immediate vicinity of this site, by the excavation archive of sites excavated within and outside the medieval town walls, and by contemporary and later historical records;

* Group value: the site has group value with excavated sites in Ipswich which have produced evidence of domestic occupation, as well as small scale and more extensive industrial use;

* Survival / Condition: the evidence of previously excavated sites in the town suggests that, despite later occupation, archaeological remains will survive in good condition;

* Fragility / Vulnerability: the buried archaeological deposits of the site are vulnerable to damage and disturbance by modern development;

* Diversity: excavation in advance of development elsewhere in Ipswich has demonstrated the survival of a diversity of features from the Anglo-Saxon periods to the C19 and beyond, demonstrating a range of uses from the domestic to the industrial;

* Potential: excavated sites within the town demonstrate that there will be archaeological deposits representing several phases of occupation. Its proximity to the site of pottery and other craft workshops, indicates potential to add significantly to our understanding of the settlement and the economy of the Anglo-Saxon and medieval town, as well as urbanisation and international trade in the medieval period.


Ipswich was one of a small number of trading settlements, generally known as emporia or wics, that were at the forefront of urban regeneration in England from the mid-C7 onwards: the most successful, and those most usually cited also include London (Lundenwic), Southampton (Hamwih), and York (Yorvik). Excavations undertaken between 1974 and 1990 on 34 sites across the Anglo-Saxon and medieval town and into the medieval suburbs have produced abundant evidence of settlement and industry, providing insight into the chronology, nature and form of settlement and the town’s significant pottery industry.

Archaeological evidence indicates that Anglo-Saxon Ipswich was a new settlement, established in the early C7 on an area of gravel and sand at the head of the Orwell estuary. Its origin pre-dates the beginnings of pottery production, which began in about AD 650, exploiting an extensive zone of London Clay to the north of the settlement and its cemetery. Excavation evidence indicates that in the early C8 the town expanded towards the potteries, over the cemetery, apparently establishing the present street pattern, with buildings seen lining the street frontage of St Stephen’s Lane. In the late C9 and early C10 a new type of cellared building was introduced, more widely spaced and set back from the street front, and this appears to have remained the dominant form throughout the C10 and C11. The first circuit of defences was constructed in the early C10, but by the mid-C11 the town had outgrown these to form suburbs, suggesting a thriving urban economy. By the late C11, however, both documentary and archaeological evidence indicate economic retraction, with cellared buildings in the Buttermarket and Foundation Street sites abandoned or destroyed, remaining waste until the C13. During the medieval period the town expanded again, with further growth of suburbs, but with much of the intramural area occupied by the churches and claustral buildings of the White, Grey and Black Friars.

Archaeological evidence of early economic activity in Ipswich indicates the presence of small scale craft industries: bone, antler, leather and horn working are represented, as well as cloth production. These are dwarfed, however, by the pottery industry which thrived from the mid-C7 to the C9, and by the scale of production of distinctive wheel thrown Ipswich wares, traded as domestic pottery throughout the Kingdom of East Anglia, with more limited distribution outside the kingdom along major routes and on high status sites. From the mid-C9 until the C12 the potteries turned to the production of Thetford ware. As well as trading its own locally produced goods, during most of this period Ipswich was an international port, acting as a redistribution centre for wares imported from the Rhineland and Flanders, and also from northern France.

From the C19 onwards the Cox Lane area had been more productive of finds from the Anglo-Saxon period than any other part of the town, and these allowed for its identification as a zone dedicated to pottery production, following a study undertaken in the 1950s. A kiln discovered in 1928 to the south of Carr Street was photographed, but not excavated. Excavations undertaken to the north of the scheduled area in 1958, to the east of Cox Lane and north of Union Street, found post holes suggesting the presence of at least one structure, while of 17 pits excavated, 15 contained pottery spanning the production of Ipswich ware and Thetford ware. A section of a defensive ditch was also found, but no kilns. However, in 1961 five kilns were found close by, in the course of excavation to the north of Union Street, one of which contained Ipswich ware and the other four, Thetford ware. In 1975 another kiln producing Ipswich Thetford ware was excavated at 24 St Helens Street, just to the east of Upper Orwell Street. To the south of the scheduled area, an excavation north of Tacket Street carried out in 1980-81 found mainly pits, dating to between c. AD 700 and 1900, of which 13 belonged to the period between AD 700-1450.

Within the scheduled area, three trenches were machine excavated in 1991 as part of an evaluation that included the monitoring of boreholes sunk in advance of a proposed scheme of development. The aim of this work was to determine the varying depth of overburden and archaeological deposits across the site. An augur traverse was also carried out immediately to the north of St Pancras Church, and south of the scheduled area. In 2000 three test pits were excavated within the scheduled area, to west and east respectively, again in advance of proposed development; one of these, to the south-west of the car park, produced pottery dating from the Mid-Saxon period to the C17-C18.

In the late C19 the currently scheduled area to the north of Tacket Street and Orwell Place formed two distinct areas of use: the roughly square shaped area to the east of Cox Lane was occupied by densely packed terraced housing, while the area to the west was mainly given over to an evolving brewery, which by 1909 had become Tollemache’s Ipswich Brewery. By 1958 the brewery buildings occupied almost the whole of the site to the west of Cox Lane, including land to the north of the scheduled area. The site to the east of Cox Lane had been cleared of housing by 1952 and it seems that by 1964 most of the brewery buildings had been demolished. These two distinct areas were also initially separately scheduled: the site to the east of Cox Lane in 1979 as SF185, Area of Middle and Late Saxon Town off Cox Lane; the brewery site to the west as SF187 Area of Middle and Late Saxon Town off Tacket Street. In 1988 these were combined into a single scheduling, SF185, Area of Mid-Late Saxon Settlement between Upper Orwell Street and Upper Brook Street.


The scheduled area is divided towards the centre by Cox Lane (running from south to north), one of the oldest streets in Ipswich, and is immediately to the south, south-west and west of the area where excavation has demonstrated the presence of pottery kilns and other features associated with the industrial scale production of Ipswich and Thetford wares. Kilns and pits containing pottery waste found close to the north boundary of the scheduled area suggests that these, and other features and structures associated with the industry, are likely to be present within the scheduled area. The section of the scheduling that extends northwards is immediately to the west of kiln sites excavated between 1928 and 1961, and is likely to lie within the main area of production. Test pits, bore holes and auguring within the scheduled area demonstrates a depth of overburden in places of about 1.7m and more, suggesting a build-up of archaeological deposits across the site, cut through in places by later cellars. A test pit dug to the east of the north end of the Tacket Street entrance produced pottery dating from the Middle Saxon period to the C17th-C18th: while some of the 13 earlier pits found in the excavation to the north of Tacket Street may contain waste from the industry.

EXTENT OF SCHEDULING: the scheduling includes the area currently (2016) in use as a car park, extending from the east boundaries of the properties that face onto Upper Brook Street to the west boundaries of those that line the west side of Upper Orwell Street. The south end of the west boundary is formed by the east side of the car park access road, and also excludes the electricity sub-station. The south boundary of the scheduled area follows the north side of Tacket Street, cutting around the rectangle of the excavated area to return to the street front, before turning north again to follow the boundary with Christ Church and the church hall, crossing Cox Lane to follow the boundary with St Pancras Church. To the east the line of the scheduling follows the property boundaries of Upper Orwell Street, turning east and then north at Upper Orwell Street to follow the north side of Upper Barclay Street. To the west of Cox Lane it turns north and then west to follow the boundaries of the properties to the south of Carr Street. Almost the whole of this area is in use as a car park.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
SF 185
Legacy System:


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

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