Since 2008 Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service has been co-ordinating a major programme of survey and investigation at Rendlesham in south-east Suffolk. This began when the landowner became concerned about regular looting at night from his fields, and the aims of the project are to understand past activity and protect the archaeology. The study area is near the parish church, in the valley of the River Deben, four miles upriver from the Anglo-Saxon burial site at Sutton Hoo.
The main survey method is surface collection by systematic metal-detecting, carried out on a voluntary basis by private agreement with the landowner, on 160ha of available cultivated fields. Aerial photographs have been mapped, and 46ha has also been examined by magnetometer survey. A series of small excavation trenches has clarified and confirmed key elements of the survey data.
The results so far reveal settlement and activity from late prehistory to the present day, but the evidence shows that this place was particularly significant from the 5th century until the middle of the 8th century, when it was unusually large, wealthy and well connected. This exceptionally rich and extensive settlement has the characteristics of an important central place and was very probably the East Anglian vicus regius (royal settlement) recorded at Rendlesham by Bede in his Historia Ecclesiastica (HE iii. 22).