Record Details

NHER Number:1022
Type of record:Monument
Name:Site of St Etheldreda's Church and Saxon occupation site, part of Scheduled Saxon town area

Summary

This area forms part of the scheduled Saxon town at Thetford and is also the site of St Etheldreda's church. The church, also known as St Audrey's, was likely founded in the Late Saxon period and was demolished at the Dissolution. Numerous graves, likely associated with the church, were recorded in 1980 during excavation of a trial trench while excavations in 1973 and 1995 have revealed an area of intensive Late Saxon settlement. A number of post-built and sunken-featured buildings set out along two trackways have been identified and evidence for metalworking, leatherworking and textile-working has been recorded. Notable finds include a coin die, which is the first archaeological evidence for a mint in Thetford, and several bone ice skates. Occupation continued in this area on a much smaller scale into the 13th and 14th centuries, and a bone chess piece of this period has been recovered.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:Not displayed
Map Sheet:TL88SE
Parish:THETFORD, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

Site of St Etheldreda's Church and Saxon occupation site. Part of scheduled Saxon town area.
Dedicated to St. Etheldreda, the founder of the abbey of Ely, this church may have pre-conquest origins and may have been one of the unnamed churches in Domesday belonging to the Abbot of Ely (S4). The church's first rector was appointed in 1303. The building was demolished at the Dissolution in order to stop pilgrimages to see St Audrey's (St. Etheldreda) Smock, which was purported to cure toothache and swelling of the throat (S6). The churchyard was still depicted at this location in the early 18th century (S1), but in 1779 Thomas Martin noted that the site of the church had been ploughed and turned into pasture for many years (S7).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 21 February 2008.

1973. Excavation by NAU at location [1] (Context 1).
Excavation of a small area prior to the construction of a warehouse for Thetford Moulded Products (NHER 51706) revealed dense occupation debris. A large quantity of Thetford ware and slag was recorded. Features included Late Saxon pits, ditches, postholes, and hearth as well as several medieval pits and a hearth. Amongst the finds was a copper alloy folding balance, possibly of 9th-century date (S17).
Information from (S12), (S15) and archive material in file.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 22 February 2008.

1980. Excavation by A. Rogerson (NAU) at location [4].
Excavation of a trial trench along the north boundary of the plot, where a house was under construction, revealed numerous graves, orientated with heads to the west. Many of these graves lay within the topsoil and were mechanically removed. Only nine sherds of Thetford Ware, one sherd of early medieval ware, one Grimston ware strap handle, and one post medieval glazed sherd were recovered. No other evidence of Late Saxon domestic or industrial activity was recorded.
See (S14) and (S15) for further details. See sketch of trench ?(S19).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 22 February 2008.

Context 2 at location [2] is site of St Etheldreda's church, also known as St Audrey's.
N.B. Context 2 is the site of St Etheldreda alias St Audrey's church, Not St Ethelred as in (S2) and many other publications. As the 1303 appointment was by Ely cathedral, this may be one of the three Domesday churches under the patronage of Ely.
Information from member of the public [5].
E. Rose (NAU) 4 April 1986.

1995. Excavation.
The excavation confirmed that there was no earlier settlement in this part of the town, which saw short-lived and intensive activity in the 10th to early 12th centuries. Evidence for Late Saxon occupation consisted of 33 linear features, 101 pits, and 228 postholes. Five posthole structures, two sunken-featured buildings, rubbish pits and wells were identified. As well as evidence of domestic habitation, the finds included waste products from the working of silver, copper alloy and iron, with a number of hearths. A single coin die was recovered, which is the first archaeological evidence that Thetford had a mint. Three articulated human skeletons were also recorded, two from grave cuts and a third from the backfill of another feature. These appear to be isolated inhumations, not associated with the church.
Occupation continued on a much smaller scale into the 13th and 14th centuries. A well, a chalk-lined pit and an oven dated to this period were recorded in the north of the site. These features may have been related to malting. In addition, wall footings, a floor surface and a well belonging to a building of unknown function were recorded on the Mill Lane frontage. Following this medieval occupation, the area became open fields until light industrial development in the mid-20th century.
Residual material recovered during the excavations include a single sherd of Iron Age pottery, two undiagnostic struck flints, and five Roman coins.
See (S5) and press releases (S10-11).
The results of this work are also summarised in (S20).
The associated archive has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (a small assemblage of Late Saxon metal items was intially accessioned as NWHCM : L2004.4, the main archive is now NWHCM : 2006.479).
D. Gurney (NLA) 22 November 2005. Updated H. Hamilton (NLA), 22 February 2008 and P. Watkins (HES), 5 May 2019.

19 June 1995. NLA aerial photography.
Photographs taken of the NAU excavation trenches at Saxon Place.
See (S8) for further details.
S. Massey (NLA) 4 May 2001.

January 1966. Casual Find.
46m (50yds) (or possibly 50ft) south-south-east of [1] several skulls and bones with some Thetford ware recovered in digging up an apple tree. Probably a redeposition. NCM.
Information from member of the public [3].
Investigated by W. Milligan (NCM).
Updated by H. Hamilton (NLA), 21 February 2008.

July-August 1996. Metal-detecting.
A Late Saxon decorative gilt bronze finial, possibly a Late Saxon miniature censer cover, was recovered from drainage ditches dug infront of a home [7]. The find was aquired by the British Museum before May 1997.
Information from (S3) and (S21).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 21 February 2008.
Amended by A. Beckham (HES), 10 February 2017.

February-March 1997. Amateur Excavation in garden.
Seven 'holes' were dug in a back garden, on land near the 1995 NAU excavations. This appears to have been at No.11, Watermill Green. A possible large pit and compressed chalk floor were encountered (undated). Finds include a Late Saxon disc brooch decorated with a Jellinge-style animal (see description and illustrations (S18) and (S43)), a Late Saxon buckle (S44), a Saxon dress fasteners (S45 and S46), a cut halfpeny of Aethelred (S42), possible Late Saxon iron stylus (S45) bone implements (S47 and S48), a clay loom weight, a spindle whorl (S49), stud (S50), medieval buckle plate (S45) and large quantities of pottery and animal bone.
Reported in The Searcher (S3), see copy in file.
The results of this work are also summarised in (S16).
The pottery assemblage recovered from these excavations was submitted to HES for identification in June 2016. The assemblage consisted of 2054 Late Saxon pottery sherds, 2 medieval pottery sherds and 1 medieval/post-medieval pottery sherd. Information from PAS import. [6]. The assemblage has been donated to Norwich Castle Museum. See PAS records, pottery report (S22), illustrations (S23) to (S39), rubbings (S40) and photographs (S41).
D. Gurney (NLA) 1998.
Updated H. Hamilton (NLA), 21 February 2008.
Updated by A. Beckham (HES), 9 February 2017.

March 2008. Watching Brief.
Monitoring of groundworks associated with construction of a conservatory at No. 2, Watermill Green.
The site lies just beyond the boundary of the scheduled area, and no archaeological finds or features were recovered, adding to the interpretation that the Saxo-Norman occupation was confined to the scheduled area.
See report (S13) for further details.
E. Bales (NLA), 28 May 2008.

KH032013. See maps in file.
A. Beckham (HES), 19 February 2012.

Monument Types

  • (Undated)
  • FLOOR (Unknown date)
  • PIT (Unknown date)
  • CHURCH (Late Saxon to Medieval - 851 AD to 1539 AD)
  • DITCH (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • GRUBENHAUS (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • HEARTH (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • LINEAR FEATURE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • METAL WORKING SITE (Late Saxon to Medieval - 851 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POST BUILT STRUCTURE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • POST HOLE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • RUBBISH PIT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • TRACKWAY (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • BUILDING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HEARTH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • INHUMATION (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • OVEN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PIT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WELL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Undated)
  • DRESS FASTENER (DRESS) (Unknown date)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Undated)
  • LOOMWEIGHT (Undated)
  • NAIL (Undated)
  • NEEDLE (Undated)
  • PIN (Undated)
  • POT (Undated)
  • SPINDLE WHORL (Unknown date)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Undated)
  • WEIGHT (Unknown date)
  • FLAKE (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • COIN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Late Saxon to Medieval - 851 AD to 1539 AD)
  • AWL (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • AXEHEAD (Late Saxon to Medieval - 851 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BALANCE (Late Saxon - 851 AD? to 1065 AD?)
  • BLADE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • BOX (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • BROOCH (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • BROOCH (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • BUCKLE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • COIN (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • COIN DIE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • COMB (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • COMB (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • COMB (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • CRUCIBLE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • DRESS COMPONENT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • HARNESS FITTING (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • HARNESS FITTING (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • HECKLE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • HOOKED TAG (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • ICE SKATE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • KEY (LOCKING) (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • KNIFE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • LINEN SMOOTHER (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • MAIL ARMOUR (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • METAL WORKING DEBRIS (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • METAL WORKING DEBRIS (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • METAL WORKING DEBRIS (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • NEEDLE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • NEEDLE (Late Saxon to Medieval - 851 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PLANT REMAINS (Late Saxon to Medieval - 851 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • POT (Late Saxon to Medieval - 851 AD to 1150 AD)
  • PUNCH (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • QUERN (Late Saxon to Medieval - 851 AD to 1539 AD)
  • RING (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • SICKLE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • SPINDLE WHORL (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • SPINDLE WHORL (Late Saxon to Medieval - 851 AD to 1539 AD)
  • SPIT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • SPUR (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • STRAP FITTING (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • STRAP FITTING (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • TWEEZERS (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • WEFT BEATER (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • BUCKLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BUCKLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CHESS PIECE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • COIN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HORSESHOE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS? (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • JETTON (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • KNIFE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • STRAP FITTING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TONGS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1150 AD to 1400 AD)
  • POT (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1450 AD to 1600 AD)
  • COIN (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • JETTON (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • TOKEN (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF274.
---Map: Finder's Map..
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TL 88 SE 52.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Photograph: R.A. Barnett. 1995. HCA-HCV.
---Photograph: Wicks, D.. 1995. KRQ.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Late Saxon. Thetford.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Thetford.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
<S1>Map: Martin, T.. 1740. MSS map. 2.
<S2>Monograph: Dunmore, S. and Carr, R. 1976. The Late Saxon Town of Thetford: An archaeological and historical survey. East Anglian Archaeology. No 4. p 7.
<S3>Article in Serial: Fisher, B.. 1997. The Garden at Watermill Green.. The Searcher. pp 40-42. pp 40-42.
<S4>Monograph: Batcock, N. 1991. The Ruined and Disused Churches of Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 51. Microfiche 5:G12. No 226; p 54.
<S5>Monograph: Wallis, H. 2004. Excavations at Mill Lane, Thetford, 1995. East Anglian Archaeology. No 108.
<S6>Serial: Blomefield, F.. 1805. An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk.. Vol II. p 69.
<S7>Documentary Source: Martin, T. c. 1700-1799. Collections of Church Notes. Norfolk Records Office. 1772, p 80.
<S8>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1995. TL8682/AK - AU.
<S9>Unpublished Contractor Report: Penn, K. 1996. Proposed development at Bury Road, Thetford. The Archaeological Implications. A Report for WS Atkins Environment. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 857.
<S10>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1995. [Articles on the archaeological work at Mill Lane].
<S11>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1995. Unravelling town's secrets. 22 April.
<S12>Article in Serial: Webster, L. E. and Cherry, J. 1974. Medieval Britain in 1973. Medieval Archaeology. Vol XVIII pp 174-223. p 181.
<S13>Unpublished Contractor Report: Birks, C. 2008. Report on an Archaeological Watching Brief at 2 Watermill Green, Thetford, Norfolk. Chris Birks Archaeological Services. CB121R.
<S14>Unpublished Contractor Report: Rogerson, A. 1980. Thetford 1022 THD. 3. Norfolk Archaeological Unit.
<S15>Monograph: Rogerson, A. and Dallas, C. 1984. Excavations in Thetford 1948-59 and 1973-80. East Anglian Archaeology. No 22. p 64.
<S16>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 1999. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1998. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIII Pt II pp 369-387. p 384.
<S17>Illustration: [Unknown]. [Unknown]. Drawing of a Middle/Late Saxon copper alloy pocket balance. Film. 1:1.
<S18>Illustration: Holness, A. 1998. Drawing of a Late Saxon copper alloy disc brooch. Paper. 1:1.
<S19>Illustration: [Unknown]. [Unknown]. Trench location plan - 1022 THD. 3 [St Etheldreda's Church]. Film. 1:500.
<S20>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1996. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1995. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt III pp 397-412. p 409.
<S21>Article in Serial: Fisher, B.. 1997. A Tale of two towers. The Searcher. pp 12-13. pp 12-13.
<S22>Unpublished Document: Turland, R. E.. 1997-2013. Notes and catalogue of illustrated Late Saxon pottery sherds.
<S23>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawing of a Late Saxon pottery jar (Pot 2). Film. 1:1.
<S24>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawings of Late Saxon pottery sherds (Pots 3 to 5). Film. 1:1.
<S25>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawings of Late Saxon pottery sherds (Pots 6 and 18 to 20). Film. 1:1.
<S26>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawings of Late Saxon pottery sherds (Pots 21 to 23). Film. 1:1.
<S27>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawings of Late Saxon pottery sherds (Pots 24 to 35). Film. 1:1.
<S28>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawings of Late Saxon pottery sherds (Pots 36 to 38). Film. 1:1.
<S29>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawings of Late Saxon pottery sherds (Pots 39 to 41). Film. 1:1.
<S30>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawings of Late Saxon pottery sherds (Pots 42 to 45). Film. 1:1.
<S31>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawings of Late Saxon pottery sherds (Pots 46 and 48 to 50). Film. 1:1.
<S32>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawing of a Late Saxon pottery jar (Pot 51). Film. 1:1.
<S33>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawings of Late Saxon pottery sherds (Pots 47, 52 and 55). Film. 1:1.
<S34>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawing of a Late Saxon pottery sherd (Pot 56). Film. 1:1.
<S35>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawings of Late Saxon pottery sherd and handles (Pots 57 to 59). Film. 1:1.
<S36>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawing of a Late Saxon pottery sherd (Pot 60). Film. 1:1.
<S37>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawing of a Late Saxon pottery sherd (Pot 60). Film. 1:1.
<S38>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawings of Late Saxon pottery sherds (Pot 61 to 63). Film.
<S39>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawings of rouletting decoration on Late Saxon pottery sherds. Film. 1:1.
<S40>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Rubbings of rouletting decoration on Late Saxon pottery. Film. 1:1.
<S41>Photograph: Turland, R. E.. 1997. Photographs of Late Saxon pottery sherds. print.
<S42>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawing of a Laxe Saxon silver coin (Aethelred II, 978-1016, Minted 979). Paper. 4:1.
<S43>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawing of a Late Saxon copper alloy disc brooch. Film. 4:1.
<S44>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawing of a Late Saxon copper alloy buckle. Film. 2:1.
<S45>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawings of various objects recovered during 1997 excavations at No 11 Watermill Green, Thetford. Paper. 1:2 and 1:1.
<S46>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawing of a Late Saxon copper alloy dress fastener. Paper. 1:1.
<S47>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawing of an undated bone implement. Paper. 1:1.
<S48>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawing of an undated bone implement. Paper. 1:1.
<S49>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawing of an undated copper alloy stud. Paper. 1:1.
<S50>Illustration: Turland, R. E. 1997. Drawing of an undated spindle whorl. Paper. 1:1.

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5761Related to: Late Saxon to medieval pits and early medieval ditch. (Monument)

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