Rare finds uncovered and work progresses for new wetland habitat

By Marjorie Barnes | Published on 19 December 2022 | 4 min read

Up to 100 archaeologists familiar with Suffolk soil are combing the county fields where new wetland habitat is going to be created by the Sizewell C project.

The team are almost through the dig and have already uncovered a range of rare discoveries, including a possible Roman saltern (for early salt production), prehistoric pottery, and the remains of a previously unknown medieval building.

The carefully curated work is taking place ahead of establishing the marsh harrier wetland habitat that is going to transform the green field site to the north of where Sizewell C will be located. The excavation is being undertaken by joint venture partners Cotswold Archaeology and Oxford Archaeology and will be monitored by Suffolk County Council Archaeology Service (SCCAS) who will ultimately store the finds in the county archives.

The Sizewell C environment team will create and maintain about 4.52 Ha of brand new, high-quality wetland habitat. This will include a mosaic of wet reedbed with 20-30% open water and 1km of lowland ditches. The wetland will be a single basin fed by groundwater similar to our successful wetland creation at Aldhurst farm that was established in 2015. It will support a wide range of wildlife as Aldhurst does including water vole, otter and Marsh Harriers.

Essex firm Blackwell Earthmoving Limited, who helped the project create the Wild Aldhurst habitat, will move around 150,000 cubic metres of earth through challenging winter conditions to support the creation of the new habitat.

Dean Clarke, Sizewell C project manager responsible for the work said: “We are delighted that our archaeologists have uncovered some special finds and, once work is complete, we plan to share as many as possible for the community to see. The medieval building was a great find, we suspect it was once a farming building and will work with the county archaeological services to understand more about its history.”

Cotswold Archaeology Project Manager, Rhiannon Gardiner, said “Working on this significant project, so close to our office in Suffolk, is providing a fantastic opportunity to understand ever more of the county’s rich and fascinating history. Having already uncovered such a variety of archaeology here is very promising, and we’re looking forward not only to excavating more, but to getting out into the local community and sharing our findings with the public.”

Other work supporting the habitat creation includes improvements to and temporary diversion of a bridleway so ecologists can begin work on creating the new wetland habitat.  About 25 ecologists will work on the environmental project in the coming weeks to ensure it is developed to the highest standards where wildlife can thrive, just as achieved at Aldhurst farm, the first reserve created by the project in 2015 from an onion field.

The environmental work is amongst the first phase of works required in preparation for early civils activity to deliver Suffolk’s new power station that received planning consent this year and Government investment in the project in November.

Notes to editors

The excavation, which is being undertaken by joint venture partners Cotswold Archaeology (working out of their Suffolk office in Needham Market) and Oxford Archaeology on behalf of Sizewell C, is taking place ahead of establishing the marsh harrier wetland habitat. The habitat will transform the green field site to the north of Sizewell C’s future location. Following completion of the fieldwork, all findings and material remains will be comprehensively analysed and reported on.

Blackwell Earthmoving Limited are carrying out the earthworks for the habitat creation. The firm expect to employ around 30 people directly on this project and this workforce will include 6 trainees who have been recruited and trained to industry accredited standards in the company’s academy.

Pictured above (L-R): Hannah Bullmore and Hadley Sharman

Posted by Marjorie Barnes

The Sizewell C comms team brings you news, updates, blogs and information on the Sizewell C project.