Record Details

NHER Number:2268
Type of record:Monument
Name:Probable Iron Age and Roman period settlement, Early Saxon cemetery and multi-period finds

Summary

Inhumations associated with Iron Age and Roman pottery sherds, Palaeolithic handaxes and flakes, a possible Roman kiln, Early Bronze Age sherds and an Early Saxon short-long brooch have been found between 1934 and 1981 in this gravel pit.

Images

  • An Early Saxon long-short brooch from Tottenhill.  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service

Location

Grid Reference:TF 63 10
Map Sheet:TF61SW
Parish:TOTTENHILL, WEST NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

A number of significant archaeological discoveries were made at this site during gravel quarrying between the late 19th century and the mid 20th century. The northernmost part of this site was quarried first (area centred TF 635 108), with a pit opened here in either the 1890s or early 1900s (being marked on the 2nd Edition O.S map but not the first edition). By 1928 this pit had been extended southwards and by the 1946 a new quarry had been opened in the field to the south. The extent of the latter is now marked by a series of water-filled pits. As a series of quarry pits were also present to the east of the Lynn Road around the same time there is a degree of uncertainty as to the precise provenance of many archaeological discoveries in this area. After a reconsideration of the available evidence a number of the finds previously associated with the pits to the east (NHER 2266) are now thought to have actually come from this site. A number of Palaeolithic finds previously recorded as coming from this pit during the 1980s were almost certainly recovered from a pit to the north-west (NHER 59919).
P. Watkins (HES), 25 November 2013.

1890-1910. Stray Find.
A number of discoveries made from 1890 onwards in a pit at Tottenhill were described in a paper read by H. J. Hillen at a meeting of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia on 31 January 1910 (S1). The pit is described as being worked at this time by a Mr Boon. Although these discoveries were previously recorded under NHER 2266 it is much more likely that they were from this pit, which appears to have been the only one that was being worked at this time (the pit on the eastern side of the Lynn Road being shown as an old pit on the 2nd Edition O.S map). This assertion is supported by the fact that an early record card detailing some of these discoveries (S2) gives the grid reference of this pit (TF 635 108). These discoveries are also described as lying to the west of the main road by R. R. Clarke in (S3).

A large number of flints were apparently recovered, "…some of which were undoubtedly Palaeolithic implements..." and others that were "…considered to be the result of natural forces" (S1). Although the King's Lynn Museum holds a range of Palaeolithic artefacts that were found around this time in the Tottenhill pits, it appears that most were probably from the pit on the opposite side of the road (NHER 2266). The items most likely to be from this site are three possible handaxes that are described as much worn and of "eolith" type (KILLM : 2001.526-7; KILLM : 2001.529). Two of these are recorded as being found in 1905 (the third has no date). None of the finds from this phase of work are likely to be amongst the Palaeolithic finds from Tottenhill listed by Roe (S4).

Other prehistoric finds recovered included a "well-worked and partly polished" rechipped Neolithic flint axehead found "four or five feet below the surface" (S1). This axehead is held by the King's Lynn Museum (KILLM : 1992.599). Also noted by (S5).

The pit also appears to have destroyed at least part of a mixed-rite Early Saxon cemetery. According to Hillen in 1890 an iron spearhead was recovered in the pits, this found with a "…rusty shield [and] lying beside a skeleton, probably the remains of an Anglo-Saxon burial" (S1). The spearhead was exhibited and is now held by the KLM (KILLM : 1992.426), although it is listed in the museum records as medieval. Hillen also describes the discovered of "…fragments of urns, [that were] wheel-turned, unbaked, and in some cases roughly ornamented". These were described as appearing "…partly Romano-British and partly Saxon". It is likely that an Early Saxon cremation vessel held by the KLM (recorded as being found by Plowright in 1904) is from this site (KILLM : 1994.756), as may a second vessel found the same year (but with no finder recorded) (KILLM : 1994.977). See also (S2).

A range of Roman finds were clearly also recovered, with the King's Lynn Museum holding a collection of Roman material that is recorded as having been found by Plowright and Hillen in February 1909 (KILLM : 1978.334). These finds are listed as comprising pottery, clay fire bars (presumably kiln furniture) and a "fired clay lump used in salt making". The pottery consists of coarse greyware bowls and vases, with rusticated decoration, grooved line decoration and cross hatching. Although it has previously been noted that the fired clay lump was unlikely to be associated with salt production, clear evidence for this activity was revealed during a recent excavation nearby (NHER 39458). It is possible that a vessel described by Hillen as reconstructable, having been protected by the "…bottom portion of a ragstone quern" was one of the Roman discoveries. Hillen also notes that a red deer antler and pelvis were recovered from this pit (S1).

Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 25 November 2013.


1934-1940. Stray Find.
A wide range of objects were recovered from a gravel quarry known as Collett's Pit by P. K. L. Schwabe and I. J. Thatcher during the 1930s. This pit is recorded as lying to the west of the Lynn Road, although it is somewhat unclear whether this was the name given to the extension to Boon's Pit or the new pit that was opened up during the 1930s.

12 "early Palaeoliths" were found by Schwabe in 1935. These were described as very crude, water-worn and abraded axes and were passed to J. Reid Moir. Information from (S6), which has a note indicating that R. R. Clarke though these were doubtful as true artefacts. According to (S6) these are amongst a collection of undated prehistoric worked flints from Tottenhill that is held by the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 1946.164.27). The museum records do however give no indication that such objects are part of this collection. It is however possible that pieces from this collection were the Palaeolithic finds from Tottenhill that were listed by Roe (S4) as being in the Norwich Castle Museum - there are no other obvious candidates in this museum.

Sherds of prehistoric pottery were also recovered (possibly in 1938), these including sherds of Beaker and "unassociated Holdenhurst type of Rusticated ware". Information from (S5).

A significant number of Iron Age and Roman finds were also recovered, these being listed by (S7) and (S8). It is clear that a range of Iron Age pottery was found at the site, including a number of sherds described as 'Iron Age A2'. These sherds were potentially what would now be described as Early Iron Age and were noted in (S8), (S9) and (S10). A range of later Iron Age sherds also appears to have been found (described as 'Iron Age B'). See sketches (S11) (S12), (S13) and (S14). Late Iron Age 'Iron Age ABC' vessels were also found - see sketches of two Late Iron Age/transitional rims sherds on (S7). Two of the Late Iron Age pots from this site are illustrated in (S10).

A range of Roman pottery was also recovered, including much greyware, samian and mortarium. See sketch of a "black base" on reverse of (S8). A ‘rusticated’ greyware jar from this site is also illustrated in (S15). Roman tile was also recovered. According to (S8) a possible Roman kiln at the site was reported to the Norfolk Research Committee by Schwabe in October 1937. It is reasonably likely that this was indeed a kiln, given the earlier discovery of kiln furniture on the site. Additional fire bars were found at the site in around 1940.

The bulk of the Iron Age, Roman and Early Saxon finds are now held by the Norwich Castle Museum. The 'Iron Age A2' sherds were accessioned separately in 1934 (NWHCM : 1934.97) with the majority of the other items now part as a single collection that was donated in 1946 (NWHCM : 1946.164.22). This collection also includes an iron object, a fragment of a triangular loomweight and a 'grinding stone'.

An Early Saxon short-long brooch, dating from around 600 AD was found in 1937. According to (S2) the quarry was known at this time as Collett's Pit. This brooch is also described (S3), which includes a photograph of the object. Held by the NCM (NWHCM : 1946.164.10). See photographs in file (S16). This find was also reported in (S17). The main NCM collection from this site also contains Early Saxon pottery (NWHCM : 1946.164.22).

Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 25 November 2013.

1942-3. Salvage excavation.
Around this time an Early Saxon cremation cemetery was exposed by quarrying in Tottenhill. It has long been believed that these discoveries were made in one of the pits to the east of the Lynn Road (NHER 2266). It should however be noted that this is far from certain and it is possible that these urns were actually found in this pit, particularly given the other Early Saxon discoveries made here.
P. Watkins (HES), 25 November 2013.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Palaeolithic - 500000 BC? to 10001 BC?)
  • FINDSPOT (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Beaker - 2300 BC to 1700 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • SETTLEMENT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POTTERY KILN? (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • SETTLEMENT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Early Saxon - 600 AD to 600 AD)

Associated Finds

  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Unknown date)
  • HANDAXE? (Lower Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 150001 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT? (Lower Palaeolithic - 500000 BC? to 150001 BC?)
  • POLISHED AXEHEAD (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • POT (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT (Beaker - 2300 BC to 1700 BC)
  • LOOMWEIGHT (Late Bronze Age to Roman - 800 BC to 409 AD)
  • POT (Early Iron Age - 800 BC? to 401 BC?)
  • POT (Middle Iron Age to Late Iron Age - 400 BC to 42 AD)
  • BRIQUETAGE? (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • KILN FURNITURE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • KILN FURNITURE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • QUERN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • QUERN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • ROOF TILE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • POT (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • POT (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • POT (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • POT (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • SHIELD? (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • SPEAR (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • BROOCH (Early Saxon - 600 AD to 600 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Archive: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TF 61 SW 11.
---Archive: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
<S1>Article in serial: 1911. Summary of Proceedings. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. Vol I Pt I (for 1909-1910) pp 109-121. p 118.
<S2>Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Early Saxon. Tottenhill.
<S3>Article in serial: Clarke, R. R. 1940. Norfolk in the Dark Ages, 400-800 A.D., Part II. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXVII Pt II pp 215-249. pp 241-242; Plate 15.
<S4>Monograph: Roe, D. A. 1968. A Gazetteer of British Lower and Middle Palaeolithic Sites. CBA Research Report. No 8. p 240.
<S5>Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Neolithic. Tottenhill.
<S6>Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Palaeolithic.
<S6>Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Iron Age. Tottenhill [2].
<S7>Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Roman. Tottenhill [2].
<S8>Article in serial: 1934. Summary of Proceedings. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. Vol VII Pt III pp 427-430. p 430.
<S9>Article in serial: Clarke, R. R. 1935. Notes on the Archaeology of Markshall. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXV Pt III pp 354-367. p 358.
<S10>Article in serial: Clarke, R. R.. 1939. The Iron Age in Norfolk and Suffolk. Archaeological Journal. Vol XCVI pp 1-113. pp 94, 102; fig 9.
<S11>Illustration: ?Clarke, R. R. Sketch of an Iron Age vessel from Tottenhill. Card. 1:1.
<S12>Illustration: ?Clarke, R. R. Sketch of three Iron Age rim sherds from Tottenhill. Card. 1:1.
<S13>Illustration: ?Clarke, R. R. Sketch of an Iron Age rim base sherd from Tottenhill. Card. 1:1.
<S14>Illustration: ?Clarke, R. R. Sketch of two Iron Age pottery sherds from Tottenhill. Card. 1:1.
<S15>Article in serial: Thomson, F. H. 1958. A Romano-British Pottery Kiln at North Hykeham, Lincolnshire: with an Appendix on the typology, dating and distribution of 'Rustic' Ware in Great Britain. Antiquaries Journal. Vol XXXVIII Nos 1 and 2 pp 15-51. pp 36, 51; Fig 4.
<S16>Photograph: Early Saxon short-long brooch from Tottenhill. Black and white. print.
<S17>Newspaper Article: Lynn Advertiser. 1938. 7 January.

Related records - none

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