Remains of 800-year-old bridge found near Eye castle
- Credit: John Rushbrook/citizenside.com
The remains of a previously unknown medieval bridge have been discovered near the grounds of a Suffolk castle.
Remains of the bridge, believed to be around 800 years old, were discovered near to Eye Castle by Britannia Archaeology Ltd.
Experts believe the oak remains were part of the castle's defences – and are in such good condition that score marks made by the 13th century carpenter remain clearly visible.
It is thought waterlogged conditions have helped stop the decaying process, making it an especially rare find.
Other items found in the 8metre-wide ditch include pottery dating from the 11th to 14th centuries.
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Martin Brook, of Britannia Archaeology Ltd, said: “By far the most significant find was a large oak timber, which was within the lower fills of the ditch.
"It is likely to be a baseplate of a trestle for a timber bridge, which would have spanned the ditch.
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"The bridge is likely to date between c.AD 1200 and c.1265, when the castle was sacked and abandoned.
“This is not something that any of us were expecting and it’s incredibly satisfying and exciting to work on, both adding to our understanding of the castle in its historic setting and helping to further our understanding of medieval life in Eye.”
The motte and bailey castle is one of the oldest in the county and served as a fortified residence for the Malet family during the reign of William the Conqueror.
Staff from Historic England were invited to advise on the remains due to their significance.
Zoe Outram, a science advisor for Historic England, said: “Waterlogged archaeological deposits are uncommon in England and, as a result, organic materials like wood or remains of plants are relatively rare when it comes to the physical evidence that exists in the archaeological record.
"Investigations of the timber and other materials from this site in Eye will provide interesting and valuable insights into everyday life at the time, such as the activities that people carried out, the technologies that were utilised and the landscape around the castle.”
Harry Edwards, of Roundwood Restorations Ltd – which is developing the site in future – said it was "especially exciting" to be a part of this discovery, having been born in Eye.
Richard Rout, deputy leader of Suffolk County Council, added the finds will undergo specialist analysis and details of the site will be documented.