In 1994, the Oxford Archaeological Unit examined part of a Romano-British and early Saxon settlement occupying a low sandy ridge on the left bank of the River Thet.
The Romano-British element of the site is interpreted as low status buildings and associated enclosures possibly belonging to a farmstead. The settlement appears to have lain outside, and to the north of, the excavated area. The fact that the excavation only explored part of the larger site means that statements about size and status must be made with due caution. Occupation probably started in the late 1st century but appears to have been light until the later 3rd and 4th centuries and to have ceased at the end of the 4th century. A small peripheral cemetery showed evidence of a range of burial practices characteristic of the late Roman period, including multiple burials and decapitations. The cemetery may be complete.
The early Saxon occupation started in the 5th century, and appears to have ended in the late 6th or 7th century. In common with many early Saxon settlements, its form and extent remain unclear and only part of the site was investigated. The main area of occupation appears to have been concentrated to the south of the Roman site and probably extended beyond the excavation area. A scatter of sunken-featured buildings (SFBs), pits, hollows and hearths were examined but no post-built structures were identified. Cultural remains were not prolific but loomweights, and perhaps surprisingly, iron smelting residues, indicate some of the activities practised.
The economies of both periods appear to have been based on mixed farming. In the Roman period charred cereal remains and millstone fragments suggest that crop-processing was important. A significant collection of animal bones associated with the early Saxon occupation indicated a dominance of cattle and it is possible that there was an increased emphasis on pastoralism in the 5th century.
Andrew Mudd, 2002. 'Excavations at Melford Meadows, Brettenham, 1994: Romano-British and Early Saxon Occupations', East Anglian Archaeology 99