Molehill detecting at St Benet's

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

On Monday the community archaeology team at Norfolk Historic Environment Service ran an activity at St Benet’s Abbey as part of a school visit to the area.

 St Benet’s was a Benedictine Abbey which was endowed in 1020 CE by King Cnut. It was built on an earlier Saxon site, and is the only monastery in the country not to have been dissolved during the reign of Henry VIII.

 The last monks left the abbey in 1545 CE and so it fell into disrepair. Today only the gatehouse still stands, but the ruins of the church are still visible.


Pupils from Catfield C of E Primary, Hoveton St John’s Primary, Ludham Primary, and children part of Education Otherwise visited the abbey and took part in a day of molehill detecting.

 After an introduction to the history of the abbey, groups ventured out into the ruins looking for molehills. Pupils searched the heaps of soil for evidence of the previous inhabitants of St Benet’s. Any artefacts they found were put into finds bags and the location of the molehill was recorded on the bag, along with details of the finder.

 Despite the horrible weather a good time was had by all, and an early review of the finds has revealed some pot sherds and large quantities of brick, along with an animal tooth.

 If you would like to get involved in your own molehill detecting day, or are interested in holding other archaeology events, please get in touch with us at


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