For those not familiar with this location you will find it as you travel along the Somersham road to Little Blakenham. Until a few years ago it was a land fill site operated by Suffolk County Council having previously been a chalk quarry.
The hill, into which the original pit was dug, is called “Blood Hill” on Ordnance Survey Maps today. Its name was also mentioned in records back in the 13th century. At its peak, it is about 40 meters (about 130 feet) above sea level and gives a clear view across the Gipping valley to “Broom Hill”, in Paper Mill Lane – another site of many years of quarrying.
Older residents will tell you that the name “Blood Hill” relates to a battle fought there in the distant past. Although you might pass this off as an old wives’ tale there is an element of truth in this legend.
In 2006, archaeologists discovered a small burial ground in addition to various other features dating back to the Early Neolithic Age (about 10,000 years ago). At least five graves were uncovered with evidence of seven burials. One group related to the Late Neolithic/ Early Bronze Age, around 2000 BC, but the others were much later and dated to the Roman period (late 4th Century).
The “Roman” burials were three graves in a tight group. Two burials were identified as mature males but the other was that of an adult woman and two children buried together with graves goods of jet and glass beads, a pottery vessel, a finger ring, bracelet and two anklets.
The woman is believed to have been around 30 to 35 years old, the older child about 8 and the younger about 4.
Detailed forensic examination of the skeletal remains indicated that this group had enjoyed a relatively good diet and had not performed heavy manual labour in their lives. They were likely, then, to have been from a fairly prosperous group of people.
However, the most dramatic discovery in relation to the woman and older child was the evidence that they had suffered a vicious attack that had led to their deaths. The conclusions in the report, which even in its clinical language still makes uncomfortable reading, was that they had suffered several blows to the head by some form of blade – probably a sword.
Not evidence of a battle maybe, but certainly an attack which could have shocked the local population enough to give the hill its name perhaps?
What is also clear from the evidence that this family was buried with care, so not a hurried attempt to cover up a murder, but left to be found by family and friends. Of course, there could be more evidence somewhere nearby of wider bloodshed yet to be discovered. Perhaps these burials are just one small part of the story of Blood Hill?