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.

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 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 forThetford 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 bronze folding balance, possibly of 9th century date.
Information from (S14), (S17) 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 (S16) and (S17) for further details.
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 (S10-13).
D. Gurney (NLA) 22 November 2005.
Updated H. Hamilton (NLA), 22 February 2008.

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.

Before February 1997. Casual Find (metal detecting?).
A Saxon decorative gilt bronze finial was recovered from drainage ditches dug infront of a home (possibly No. 11 Watermill Green).
Information from (S3).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 21 February 2008.

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 drawing in file), a Saxon dress fastener, a cut halfpeny of Aethelred, large quantities of pottery and animal bone, bone implements, a clay loom weight, a spindle whorl, and a medieval buckle plate.
Reported in The Searcher (S3), see copy in file.
See also (S18).
D. Gurney (NLA) 1998.
Updated H. Hamilton (NLA), 21 February 2008.

March 2008. Watching Brief by Chris Birks in advance of 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 (S15) 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)
  • 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)
  • 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

---Map: Finder's Map..
---Article in serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1996. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1995. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt III pp 397-412. p 409.
---Unpublished document: Birks, C.. 2008. Chris Birks Archaeological Services Report No. CB121R. Report on an Archaeological Watching Brief at 2 Watermill Green, Thetford..
---Photograph: R.A. Barnett. 1995. HCA-HCV.
---Photograph: Wicks, D.. 1995. KRQ.
---Illustration: Holness, A.. 1998. Drawing of a Late Saxon disc brooch.. Paper. 1:1.
---Illustration: Unknown. Drawing of a Middle/Late Saxon copper alloy pocket balance.. Film. 1:1.
---Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Late Saxon. Thetford.
---Archive: 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: 1976. Late Saxon town of Thetford. East Anglian Archaeology. East Anglian Archaeology. Vol 4. p 7.
<S3>Article in serial: Fisher, B.. 1997. The Garden at Watermill Green.. The Searcher. pp 40-42. pp 40-42.
<S4>Publication: Batcock, N. 1991. The Ruined and Disused Churches of Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology, 51. Microfiche 5:G12.
<S5>Monograph: Wallis, H.. 2004. Excavations at Mill Lane, Thetford, 1995.. East Anglian Archaeology. Vol 108.
<S6>Serial: Blomefield, F.. 1805. An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk.. Vol II. p 69.
<S7>Unpublished document: Martin, T.. 1772. Church Notes. p 80.
<S8>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1995. TL8682/AK - AU.
<S9>Unpublished document: Penn, K.. 1996. NAU Report No. 857. Proposed development at Bury Road, Thetford. The Archaeological Implications. A Report for WS Atkins Environment..
<S10>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1995. Dig that history.. 6 March. 6 March.
<S11>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1995. Unravelling town's secrets IN Eastern Daily Press. 22 April 1995. 22 April.
<S12>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1995. Towns past is a turn-up.. 23 June. & photo. 23 June.
<S13>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1995. Clues to mystery fall of Norfolk's 'capital'.. 17 July. 17 July.
<S14>Article in serial: Webster, L. E. and Cherry, J. 1974. Medieval Britain in 1973. Medieval Archaeology. Vol XVIII pp 174-223. p 181.
<S15>Unpublished document: Birks, C.. 2008. Chris Birks Archaeological Services Report No. CB121R Report on an Archaeological Watching Brief at 2 Watermill Green, Thetford, Norfolk..
<S16>Unpublished document: Rogerson, A.. 1980. Thetford 1022 THD. 3. Excavation Report.. January 1980.
<S17>Monograph: Rogerson, A. and Dallas, C. 1984. Excavations in Thetford 1948-59 and 1973-80. East Anglian Archaeology. No 22. p 64.
<S18>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.

Related records

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

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