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West Stow

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West Stow is a small parish in West Suffolk, England. The village lies north of Bury St. Edmunds, south of Mildenhall and Thetford and west of the villages of Culford and Ingham in the area known as the Breckland.This area is located near the Lark River Valley and was settled from around AD 420-650.West Stow is home to two attractions - the Ramparts Field picnic area, and the West Stow Anglo-Saxon village where visitors may see reconstructed Anglo-Saxon houses, and often living history re-enactments of Dark Ages life.Its name may come from Anglo-Saxon wēste stōw = "deserted place", rather than "western place".ArchaeologyA major archaeological dig from 1965-1972 headed by Dr. Stanley West of West Suffolk Archaeology Unit revealed a well preserved Anglo-Saxon site saved beneath the sands of the Breckland. The findings of Dr. West contributed to much of the knowledge that is now known about this area. The layout of the area tells us much about the way of life in this time period. This area is set up with a large hall in the middle of the village and other houses and structures surrounding the area. This suggests that this was a very tight-knit community, with the inhabitants using the large hall for events such as feasts and story-telling. During the excavation 69 houses, 7 halls and 7 other structures were found. This community lived with their extended families in their houses, with each house usually containing around 10 family members. The people of this area still traded with their homeland, which is evidenced by the glass in the necklaces and other metals that were found at the site, but not produced locally. The Anglo-Saxon community that was found here was not the first to settle in the area. The remains of circular huts with ditched enclosures suggest occupation by Iron Age farmers. There were also tools found that suggest that Mesolithic warriors had hunted in this area, and burial grounds and cultivation which suggest settlement of a Neolithic group. A pagan Anglo-Saxon burial ground was also excavated. The archaeologists revealed that the village has moved the mile or so east to its current location following Christianisation.
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