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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 1531902

Hob Uid: 1531902
Location :
Norfolk
Breckland
North Elmham
Grid Ref : TF9870021500
Summary : A complex Anglo-Saxon village settlement at North Elmham, Norfolk. It was excavated in 1967-70 by P Wade-Martins who identified 5 occupational periods. The excavation revealed 32 timber buildings ranging in date from about the 7th or 8th century to the late 11th or early 12th centuries. The buildings ranged from large halls to smaller houses and outbuildings. In 1071 the bishop's see had moved to Thetford and the site is thought to have been abandoned by the early 12th century. Documentary evidence suggests there was a market on the site in the 14th century and by 1677 it had become the vicar's glebe. In the late 18th century it was obtained by the New Park estate exchange for land in the north of the parish.
More information : A complex Anglo-Saxon village settlement at North Elmham excavated by P Wade-Martins during 1967-70. His interim reports assess the site in terms of 5 occupational periods, and note that the number of timber buildings discovered in Elmham Park had reached 32, ranging from about the 8th century to the late 11th or early 12th centuries; including every type of structure from large halls to smaller houses and outbuildings. (1-2)

Period I (circa 650-850): Numerous ditches, two buildings. This early site plan exhibits a remarkably symmetrical arrangement and an overall control suggestive of a cathedral community living here in the pre-Danish period. The earliest dateable building is from the eighth or early ninth century.

Period II (late 9th and 10th centuries): Ditches infilled; associated pottery of Ipswich ware and Thetford ware overlap.

In the early 10th century a group of large halls were built round a courtyard indicating a Bishop's Palace. There is no certain documentation for a Bishop here until Athulf in about 950 AD.

Period III (late 10th and 11th centuries). The absence of any substantial structural replacement of the timbers of the period II halls demonstrates that the palace was abandoned by about 1000 AD. A new palace was built elsewhere, perhaps on the north side of the stone cathedral, as Rigold has suggested. This date would correspond well with his dating of the first stone cathedral as late 10th century. Perhaps both the cathedral and the palace were replaced in stone and rebuilt close together at this time.

Roughly contemporary with these events there was a great enlargement of the Cathedral cemetery. It reached out to the west over the area of the earlier timber halls. This enormous cemetery had a rectangular outline and the perimeter was defined by a small trench, either for a small bank and ditch or more likely for a fence.

Period IV (late 11th and early 12th centuries). At least two buildings of this period were found. The dating does however assume that the abandonment of the site is approximately related to the move of the Bishopric in 1071.

Period V (The Middle Ages). Characterised by large numbers of Medieval clay pits.

In 1071 the bishop's see had moved to Thetford and the site is thought to have been abandoned by the early 12th century. Documentary evidence suggests there was a market on the site in the 14th century and by 1677 it had become the vicars glebe. In the late 18th century it was obtained by the New Park estate exchange for land in the north of the parish. (3)

The description of the cathedral by authority (1) is correct. (4)

A complete report (3) which enlarges on the interim report (4-5) is now available at Norwich City Library.

There are no surveyable remains of the desertion excavated by P Wade-Martins.

The earthworks and remains of the cathedral have been resurveyed at 1:2500. See photographs. Full excavation report, 1967 - 72 excavations. (5)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Norfolk archaeology : a journal of archaeology and local history
Source details :
Page(s) : 352-397
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 34, 1969
Source Number : 2
Source : Norfolk archaeology : a journal of archaeology and local history
Source details :
Page(s) : 25-78, 263-267
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 35, 1970
Source Number : 3
Source : Landscape Settlement in West Norfolk: Volume 1
Source details :
Page(s) : 229-300
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 JB 04-JAN-1973
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : East Anglian archaeology reports
Source details : 2 volumes, P. Wade-Martins
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 9, 1980

Monument Types:
Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TF 92 SE 69
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 358933
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1605454
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, NORTH ELMHAM PARK
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1967-01-01
End Date : 1967-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, NORTH ELMHAM PARK
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1967-01-01
End Date : 1972-12-31