Record Details

NHER Number:24822
Type of record:Monument
Name:Prehistoric, Roman, Early Saxon, Middle Saxon, Late Saxon and medieval remains, Redcastle Furze

Summary

During 1988-89 Redcastle Furze was subject to an extensive archaeological excavation. The earliest evidence recovered from the site was some Mesolithic worked flints. The site was first occupied in the 1st century AD, when a circular structure was built, and some pits and ditches excavated. Much of the excavated evidence from this site related to part of an Early Saxon riverside settlement, comprising nine sunken-featured buildings and several pits and ditches. The only Middle Saxon evidence from this site are two shallow ditches, and a spread of pottery sherds. At around 1000 AD the site was reoccupied. A gravelled road and a system of land division were established, and within some of the plots, buildings were constructed. The street continued in use and a new system of plots and enclosures was established in the 12th century. During the Anarchy (1135-50), the adjacent ringwork called Red Castle (NHER 5746) was constructed. A bailey ditch associated with the castle was discovered during the excavations here, disrupting the earlier plots and enclosures. The bailey ditch does not seem to have been maintained, and around 1200 the site was redeveloped again, with the construction of a small building and enclosed yard and outbuildings including a malthouse. These buildings are similar to others noted on nearby sites, and may have formed part of a farm belonging to the Priory of the Holy Sepulchre (NHER 5749). It is likely that these buildings fell out of use at the time of the Dissolution.


Several features dating to the subsequent medieval period were also uncovered and included a bailey ditch relating to Red Castle, the clay floor of a cottage and the remains of a walled yard. It is possible that these medieval features related to the nearby Priory of Holy Sepulchre.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TL 8615 8302
Map Sheet:TL88SE
Parish:THETFORD, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

October 1988 - March 1989. Excavation.
Early prehistoric activity was represented by a scatter of worked flints, the majority of which were residual in later contexts. This assemblage included a relatively high proportion of blades and appeared to be predominantly of Mesolithic date. Pieces of particular interest included two single-platform blade cores, a discoidal scraper, an end scraper and a rod microlith. The microlith suggests this material may represent Late Mesolithic activity.
The first evidence for occupation on this site dates from the Roman period, and comprises a single circular structure and several small pits and ditches probably dating from the 1st century AD. These are likely to relate to the contemporary settlement discovered by B.K. Davison on Brandon Road (NHER 5756). Several small pits contained human and animal remains, several of which showed evidence of burning prior to deposition. A complete cattle skull had been placed on the floor of another pit, facing inwards into the centre of the pit. Because of the placement of the skull and the lack of evidence of butchery, this should be regarded as a special, perhaps ritual, deposit.
The area appears to have been abandoned until sometime around the 6th century, when an Early Saxon settlement was established. Features from this period included nine sunken featured buildings, eleven pits and several ditches. This settlement continues into the area immediately to the west which was investigated by Knocker in 1957 (NHER 5746). All of the sunken featured buildings contained animal remains and pottery in their fills, and several produced one or more sherds of Roman Colour-Coated Ware. One of the sunken featured buildings contained several objects associated with spinning and weaving including a spindle whorl, 28 clay loomweights, a bone thread picker or pin beater and an iron needle or awl and other iron objects including a D-shaped buckle, a knife, a ring, a hinge, two nails and fragments of sheet and bar. None of the other Early Saxon features contained such a concentration of finds. In one of the other sunked featured buildings a complete hearth bottom was discovered. Two groups of Early Saxon pits were identified, one of which appears to be a group of cooking pits or contained the debris from hearths or cooking. The Early Saxon remains at Redcastle Furze belonged to a settlement on the south bank of the Little Ouse River. This settlement extended 200m to the east and an unknown distance to the south and west. The location of this settlement is likely to have been influenced by the existence of a nearby fording point on the river.
Middle Saxon evidence comprises two ditches and a spread of Middle Saxon pottery. This is likely to relate to the settlement of this date excavated immediately to the west (NHER 5746), although it seems that Redcastle Furze lay on or near the eastern limit of the settlement.
There is no evidence for Late Saxon occupation on the site until at least 1000 AD. Prior to this, it appears to have been open ground which lay at the extreme west end of the area enclosed by the defensive circuit (NHER #). The earliest Late Saxon features were a series of ditched enclosures. These were probably part of the same field system as was uncovered in the western part of the Brandon Road excavations (NHER 5756). These ditches were subsequently infilled and replaced by a gravelled street, along which were a series of plots and enclosures defined by ditches and gullies. The plots contained buildings and pits, whereas the enclosures were probably for animals. The street was maintained throughout the 11th century, while the enclosures were modified to varying degrees. Two 11th century inhumations were recorded, one of an adult male and the other of a neonate; these are apparently isolated burials.
Towards the end of the 11th century Thetford declined in importance, but the street continued in use and a new series of enclosures and plots was laid out in the middle of the 12th century. It is not clear how long these remained in use, but a bailey ditch associated with the Red Castle (NHER 5746) was found in the north-west corner of the site. The construction of this ditch would have partially disrupted any existing plots and enclosures. The bailey ditch does not appear to have been maintained and by around 1200 it had become infilled and built over.
Around 1200, a small building and enclosed yard were constructed along with possibly two outbuildings, one of which was used for malting. This may have been one of several groups of buildings, perhaps farms associated with the nearby Priory of the Holy Sepulchre, which were built along the south bank of the Little Ouse River. Similar structures were found at Brandon Road by B.K. Davison (NHER #), and all appear to have gone out of use by the 16th century, probably following the Dissolution. Beneath one of the buildings was a pig burial. This is extremely unusual, and only the pig's torso appears to have been placed in a deliberately excavated grave. Also within this pit were the partial remains of a human foetus or neonate.
This site subsequently remained undeveloped until the 20th century.
Information from (S1).
See newspaper reports (S2), (S3) and (S4) in file.
All finds from this excavation are now held by the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 1994.4 : A).
E. Rose (NAU), 20 April 1989 and A. Cattermole (NLA), 31 July 2008. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 25 July 2013.

November 2003.
Small find 722 found in 1988 and published as a probably Middle Saxon mount is a late 5th/6th century sword chape (S1), fig 67, no. 25.
A. Rogerson (NLA), 14 November 2003.

Monument Types

  • PIT (Prehistoric - 500000 BC? to 42 AD?)
  • FINDSPOT (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • DITCH (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FIELD BOUNDARY (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FIELD SYSTEM (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Roman to Medieval - 43 AD to 1539 AD)
  • GRAVE? (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • GULLY (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • PIT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POST HOLE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • STRUCTURE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • COOKING PIT (Early Saxon - 500 AD to 650 AD)
  • DITCH (Early Saxon - 500 AD to 650 AD)
  • GRUBENHAUS (Early Saxon - 500 AD to 650 AD)
  • HEARTH (Early Saxon - 500 AD to 650 AD)
  • PIT (Early Saxon - 500 AD to 650 AD)
  • POST HOLE (Early Saxon - 500 AD to 650 AD)
  • SETTLEMENT (Early Saxon - 600 AD to 650 AD)
  • DITCH (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)
  • BOUNDARY DITCH (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)
  • BUILDING (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)
  • DITCH (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)
  • ENCLOSURE (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)
  • FIELD SYSTEM (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)
  • GRAVE (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)
  • GULLY (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)
  • HEARTH (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)
  • INHUMATION (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)
  • LATRINE PIT (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)
  • OVEN (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)
  • PIT (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)
  • POST BUILT STRUCTURE (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)
  • POST HOLE (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)
  • ROAD (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1199 AD?)
  • RUBBISH PIT (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)
  • SETTLEMENT (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)
  • STOCK ENCLOSURE (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)
  • OVEN (Medieval - 1100 AD to 1199 AD)
  • PIT (Medieval - 1100 AD to 1199 AD)
  • BAILEY (Medieval - 1135 AD? to 1200 AD?)
  • DITCH (Medieval - 1135 AD? to 1200 AD?)
  • ENCLOSURE (Medieval - 1150 AD to 1200 AD?)
  • BARN? (Medieval - 1200 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BUILDING (Medieval - 1200 AD to 1539 AD?)
  • CESS PIT (Medieval - 1200 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HEARTH (Medieval - 1200 AD to 1539 AD)
  • KITCHEN (Medieval - 1200 AD to 1539 AD)
  • MALT HOUSE (Medieval - 1200 AD to 1539 AD?)
  • MALT KILN (Medieval - 1200 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PIT (Medieval - 1200 AD to 1539 AD)
  • YARD (Medieval - 1200 AD to 1539 AD)

Associated Finds

  • BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BLADE CORE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • DEBITAGE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • END SCRAPER (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • SIDE AND END SCRAPER (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • TRIAL PIECE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • MICROLITH (Late Mesolithic - 7000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • BRACELET (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • BROOCH (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • CEREMONIAL OBJECT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • COIN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • PLANT REMAINS (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • TILE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • AWL (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • BEAD (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • BUCKET (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • BUCKLE (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • COMB (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • DOOR FITTING (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • KNIFE (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • LOOMWEIGHT (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • METAL WORKING DEBRIS (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • NAIL (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • NEEDLE (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • POLISHER (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • POT (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • QUERN (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • RING (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • SCABBARD (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • TEXTILE EQUIPMENT (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • BROOCH (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)
  • DRESS COMPONENT (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)
  • PIN (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)
  • POT (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • ARROWHEAD (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • BROOCH (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • COIN (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • CRUCIBLE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • DRESS COMPONENT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • DRESS COMPONENT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • FISH HOOK (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • HOOKED TAG (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • HORSESHOE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • KNIFE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • LOOMWEIGHT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • MANUFACTURING DEBRIS (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • METAL WORKING DEBRIS (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • MOULD (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • MUSICAL INSTRUMENT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • NAIL (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • PLANT REMAINS (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • PLOUGH (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • POT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • PUNCH (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • QUERN (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • RING (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • SPINDLE WHORL (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • SPINDLE WHORL (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • TEXTILE EQUIPMENT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • TEXTILE EQUIPMENT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • WHETSTONE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • AWL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BELL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BUCKLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BUCKLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BULL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CEREMONIAL OBJECT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CEREMONIAL OBJECT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CHAIN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • COIN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • COMB (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FERRULE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FISH REMAINS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FLUTE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HARNESS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • KEY (LOCKING) (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • KEY (LOCKING) (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • METAL WORKING DEBRIS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • MOLLUSCA REMAINS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • NAIL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • NEEDLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PADLOCK (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PLANT REMAINS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PLOUGH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ROOF TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ROOF TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ROWEL SPUR (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • SAMPLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • SPOON (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • SPOON (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • SPUR (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • STRAP FITTING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • STRAP FITTING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • STUD (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • STUD (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TEXTILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TOKEN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WINDOW GLASS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.. 1989. NHER TL 8683AJ-AL (NLA 223/SLIDE) 15-JUN-1989.
---Article in serial: Gurney, D (ed.). 1990. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1989. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLI Pt I pp 107-112. pp 111-112.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Fiche: Exists.
---Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.. 1989. NHER TL 8683ABQ-ABW (NLA 223/DHZ1-4, DHS1-4), 15-JUN-1989.
---Photograph: FRA-FRS, FQX-FQZ,CAH,CAQ1-11,30-33.
<S1>Monograph: Andrews, P.. 1995. Excavations at Redcastle Furze, Thetford 1988-9.. East Anglian Archaeology. Vol 72.
<S2>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1988. Surface of Saxon road destroyed.. 7 April.
<S3>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1989. Builder asked to preserve Saxon road.. 30 March.
<S4>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1989. Dig lays bare Saxon secrets.. 17 April.

Related records - none

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