An English Heritage funded repair project at St Mary's church, Carleton Forehoe (NHER 8888) has resulted in the discovery of a Romanesque round tower that would have been part of an earlier church on the site.
The structure was uncovered half a metre below the surface through archaeological monitoring work undertaken during drainage improvements.
The base of the tower was constructed with coursed flint and mortar, and dates to the 11th to 12th centuries. The wall is 1.25 metres thick and has an external diameter of 5.6 metres, this is bigger than the current tower, which was built on the same site in 1713.
This discovery is unusual as the majority of towers that have been entirely replaced are only visible as foundations, whereas this example still survives to 0.4 metres.
Even more unusual is that despite standing on the same alignment as the current church, there is no evidence that the two were ever connected. This suggests that the tower was demolished before the west wall was built in the 15th century, and so the surviving tower did not directly replace it.
Norfolk has the most round towered churches of any English county, with 123 examples still standing, 11 in ruins and 10 that have completely disappeared.
The archaeological work was undertaken by Sarah Bates, and conservation by Nicholas Warns Architect Ltd. Thanks go to both for providing the information and photographs.
Excavations at the site have now been closed.