Record Details

NHER Number:1089
Type of record:Monument
Name:Fossditch Linear Earthwork

Summary

This is a defensive bank and ditch linear feature running north to south between the River Wissey and the Little Ouse. Although an Iron Age date for a number of other linear earthworks in Norfolk has been suggested, excavations here suggest that the Fossditch dates to the Early Saxon period. It is probable that the earthwork formed a line of defence controlling a particular territory. The earthworks of the southern part of the Fossditch Saxon linear boundary are clearly visible the 0.5m and 2m resolution lidar data, within the Weeting with Broomhill parish. Sections are apparent where multiple banks are present and/or the Fossditch is extremely broad (up to 18m), which may represent areas where the original boundary has been augmented to form part of the Methwold rabbit warren (NHER 55577) – which used the Fossditch as its eastern limit.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TL 7645 9137
Map Sheet:TL79SE
Parish:CRANWICH, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK
FELTWELL, WEST NORFOLK, NORFOLK
HOCKWOLD CUM WILTON, WEST NORFOLK, NORFOLK
WEETING WITH BROOMHILL, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

Fossditch Linear Earthwork.
Sections dug produced Roman sherds; suggested as sub Roman earthwork by R. R. Clarke (NCM).
See full details and schedule in file. (S2) in Large Rolled Plans. Box no.4
E. Rose (NAU)

24 January 1984.
(S1) signed 24 May 1997 for five years.
See copy in office file.
H. Paterson (A&E) 14 September 1999.

1992. Watching Brief.
Route of Wellington Plantation to Stoke Ferry Pipeline.
The pipeline crossed the Fossditch at a minor road junction at approximately TL 765 924. No bank was present at this location. The ditch was 6m wide and 1.2m deep with a homogenous fill indicative of slow uninterrupted filling.
See report (S4) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S5).
P. Watkins (HES), 23 March 2014.

1993. Watching Brief.
Monitoring of service trench cut across the line of the Fossditch at TL 7650 9240. The trench was relatively shallow, not penetrating much below the depth of the plough soil. It is possible that a gradual dip in the natural chalk represented the top of the ditch noted during earlier work.
See report (S6) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 9 February 2014.

February 1998. Walkover Survey.
Rapid Earthwork Identification Survey.
Compartment 4008 (c. TL 7682 9441):
The Foss Ditch runs along the western edge of this compartment , cut through by a trackway at one point. Section adjacent to an arable field untraceable.
Compartment 6066 (c. TL 7604 9059):
Bank/ditch observed. In very good condition, bank and ditch grassed and clearly definable.
See report (S7) for further details.
S. Howard (HES), 5 September 2011. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 18 August 2015.

October 2000. Visit.
Southern end grazed by sheep, good grass, minimal weed. One large rabbit hole to south. Northern section rough grass, ragwort, nettles, some bracken invading to south near gate. One rabbit hole near middle birch tree. Owner says rabbit population greatly decreased. Sheep are continually moved to keep bracken/weed under control.
H. Paterson (A&E) 4 October 2000.

2002. Visited.
Good grass cover, though some long due to reduction in sheep grazing, some now aged. Owner hopes to incorporate some of his neighbouring flock at present grazing E.S.A land. A little rabbit disturbance, these will be shot.
H. Paterson (A&E), 21 June 2002.

(S1) renewed 18 May 2002.
See copy in office file.
H. Paterson (A&E), 9 June 2002.

2002.
Scheduled Ancient Monument Management Plan March 2002 to March 2007.
Copy in file.
D. Gurney (NLA), 24 April 2002.

June 2004. Visited.
Site under long grass, with a few areas recently cut, some nettle patches and a little mole disturbance, no rabbit activity. All sheep have now died. Norfolk Wildlife Trust will now contact owners to establish cause of death before examining the possibility of their flock grazing this section of the 'ditch'.
H. Paterson (A&E), 25 June 2004.

July 2004. Visited.
At TL 77064 95325 on the north side of the A134 there has been (Spring 2004) a slight widening of an existing access (?) between the two fields. This has resulted in a south facing exposure of the chalk bank at the end of the extant earthwork, now somewhat weathered. This activity is unlikely to extend further north, due to trees on top of the bank. Presumed to be part of Scheduled Monument NF51.
D. Gurney (NLA), 22 July 2004.

July 2008. Walkover Survey.
Rapid Earthwork Identification Survey (Coupe 42010).
Examination of area immediately to the east of the Fossditch at TL 771 951. As the infilled ditch associated with the bank may pass through this area it was recommended that destumping was avoided in a strip along the western edge of this coupe.
See report (S2) for further details. Other earthwork features identified in this area are now recorded under NHER 60580.
H. White (NLA), 4 February 2009. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 9 February 2015.

April 2014.
Further report of damage to the monument at TL77064 95325 or thereabouts (see July 2004) above. Referred to English Heritage. See Notes.
D. Gurney (HES), 09 May 2014.

January 2018. 'Brecks from Above' and Breckland National Mapping Programme.
The earthworks of the southern part of the Fossditch Saxon linear boundary are clearly visible the 0.5m and 2m resolution lidar data (S8-S9), within the Weeting with Broomhill parish.
The lidar data reveals a broad bank, ranging in width from 6-18m, flanked by an intermittent ditch on the eastern side – although a ditch is present on both sides to the north of Leylands Farm. Several other banks appear to run alongside the Fossditch (NHER 61539), including one bank which appears to be connected to the main Fossditch, again to the north of Leylands Farm. It is assumed that these boundaries are broadly medieval to post medieval in date. The sections where multiple banks are present and/or the Fossditch is extremely broad (up to 18m), may represent areas where the original boundary has been augmented to form part of the Methwold rabbit warren (NHER 55577) – which used the Fossditch as its eastern limit. The eastern ditch varies in width from 5-10m across.
The most southerly section of the Fossditch bisects the Roman settlement at Hockwold (NHER 5587). A road and/or bank seems to run alongside the Fossditch through the settlement, which would suggest that it relates to a post-Roman phase of the site, unless the southern route of this Saxon boundary was following the line of an existing Roman road or boundary bank.
S. Horlock (Norfolk Historic Environment Service), 21st January 2018.

April 2019. Breckland National Mapping Programme.
The earthwork bank of the northern section of the Fossditch Saxon linear boundary is clearly visible on visualised Lidar data (S8). The earthwork survives as a wide bank with a number of boundary banks (NHER 63272, NHER 63273 and NHER 63278) using the fossditch earthwork as their terminus. The bank has been broken at various points along its alignment to provide access for forest rides and roads. The earthwork was also used as a parish boundary between the parishes of Cranwich, Northwold and Methwold and is visible on the Tithe, First and Second Edition Ordnance Survey Maps (S10-S12).
J.Powell (Norfolk Historic Environment Service), 12th April 2019.

Monument Types

  • LINEAR EARTHWORK (Unknown date)
  • BOUNDARY BANK (Saxon - 410 AD to 1065 AD)
  • DYKE (DEFENCE) (Saxon - 410 AD to 1065 AD)
  • LINEAR EARTHWORK (Saxon - 410 AD to 1065 AD)
  • BANK (EARTHWORK) (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • LINEAR FEATURE (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • PARISH BOUNDARY (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)

Protected Status

  • Management Statement
  • Scheduled Monument
  • Higher Level Stewardship
  • Higher Level Stewardship
  • Higher Level Stewardship
  • SHINE

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TL7588 A,B.
---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF483.
---Article in Serial: Ashwin, T. 1999. The Launditch and its Setting: Excavations at the Launditch, Beeston with Bittering, and Iron Age features and finds from it vicinity. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIII Pt II pp 217-256. pp 221, 251.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TL 78 NE 12 [2]; TL 79 NE 6a [5].
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Article in Serial: Wade-Martins, P. 1974. The Linear Earthworks of West Norfolk. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXXVI Pt I pp 23-38. p 35.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Early Saxon. Weeting with Broomhill [2].
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Photograph: CXV29.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
<S1>Unpublished Document: English Heritage. 2002. English Heritage Management Agreement.
<S2>Unpublished Contractor Report: Craven, J. 2008. Rapid Earthwork Identification Survey. Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service. 2008/188.
<S3>Map: Original schedule plan of whole monument.
<S4>Unpublished Contractor Report: Penn, K. 1992. The Wellington Plantation - Stoke Ferry Pipeline. A Summary of Archaeological Work undertaken on the route of the Pipeline. February-August 1992. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 29.
<S5>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1993. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1992. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLI Pt IV pp 522-532. p 530.
<S6>Unpublished Contractor Report: Leah, M. D. 1993. Wellington Plantation, Mundford, Watching Brief Report. Norfolk Archaeological Unit.
<S7>Unpublished Contractor Report: Pendleton, C. and Sommers, M. 1998. Rapid Earthwork Identification Survey. Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service. 98/25.
<S8>LIDAR Airborne Survey: Various. LIDAR Airborne Survey. LIDAR Weeting Forest Research 0.5m DTM 17-JUL-2015 (BNG Project, FC England, Fugro Geospatial).
<S9>LIDAR Airborne Survey: Various. LIDAR Airborne Survey. LIDAR TL7587 Environment Agency 2m DTM 30-NOV-2010.
<S10>Map: Tithe map. Cranwich tithe map.
<S11>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1889 - 1891. Ordnance Survey first edition 6 inch map.. 1:10,560.
<S12>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902-7. Ordnance Survey second edition 25 inch (1902-7) map. 25 inches to 1 mile.

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