Survey of an Anglo-Saxon Royal Site at Rendlesham

Historic England has funded reporting on an internationally important elite Anglo-Saxon site at Rendlesham, Suffolk.

The survey results show continuous human occupation and activity at Rendlesham from late prehistory up to the present day, with a particularly large, rich and important settlement here during the early–middle Anglo-Saxon period (5th to 8th centuries AD). The Anglo-Saxon finds cover an area of 50 hectares. They include items of the finest quality, made for and used by the highest ranks of society, and attest a range of activities including fine metalworking and international trade.


Location map for Rendlesham
Rendlesham and south-east Suffolk, showing other important contemporary places. © Suffolk County Council

This is the largest and richest settlement of its time known in England, and is almost certainly the site of the East Anglian royal settlement mentioned by Bede. Rendlesham can be identified as a royal estate centre, a place where the East Anglian kings would have stayed, feasted their followers, administered justice, and collected dues and tribute. There are other sites in the region that would also have served as temporary royal residences as the court travelled around the kingdom, but at present Rendlesham appears to have been the largest and the longest-lived of these places.

Historic England commissioned Suffolk County Council Archaeology Service, with Consulting Archaeologist Professor Christopher Scull to write an assessment report for the Rendlesham surveys and a methodological review of the techniques used there.

These internationally important discoveries were also the subject of an article 'Rendlesham, Suffolk' by Faye Minter, Jude Plouviez and Chris Scull in Issue 5 of Historic England Research digital magazine, which you can download in PDF format below.

Historic England Research Issue 5

Published 5 April 2017

Keep up-to-date with projects and activities involving applied research into the historic environment.

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