Record Details

NHER Number:3364
Type of record:Monument
Name:Roman settlement and industrial site

Summary

A programme of archaeological evaluation undertaken at this site between 2012 and 2014 identified extensive archaeological remains associated with a former Roman settlement and industrial site.
The potential significance of this site was first recognised in 1975, when a scatter of Roman pottery and iron slag was identified in the northern part of this field. In 2003 a series of potentially Roman cropmark features were identified on aerial photographs of this area, including what appeared to be a substantial enclosure. A geophysical survey undertaken as part of the evaluation of the site in 2012 revealed linear anomalies that corresponded with the cropmark features, as well as many previously unidentified features, both within and outside the main enclosure. Subsequent trial trenching in 2014 saw the investigation of many of these features, confirming that they were indeed associated with a significant Roman site. There was also conclusive evidence for a Roman iron-working industry, with a reasonably large assemblage of iron smelting slag recovered from the Roman features. The presence of briquetage demonstrated that salt production had also been taking place at or near the site. The pottery recovered suggests that activity at the site had occurred primarily during the 3rd century AD, with little evidence for sustained activity prior to this date.
The trial trenching also revealed limited evidence for sporadic prehistoric activity on the site, including a small number of Early Neolithic and Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age worked flints and several residual Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age Beaker pottery sherds. A small number of potentially Middle Iron Age features were also identified including a pair of pits in the southernmost part of the site. Several post-medieval ditches and an assemblage of unstratified post-medieval finds were the only evidence for post-Roman activity on the site.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TF 6357 1752
Map Sheet:TF61NW
Parish:NORTH RUNCTON, WEST NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

1975. Field Observation.
Identified by [1] at [2] (Context 1):
Scatter of iron slag and Roman pottery.

Three other site in this field were identified as the location of Roman iron working furnaces, see NHERs 3365-3367 for further details. Although it is recorded that one of the furnaces survived and the other two were destroyed, it is unclear which site was which. It has been suggested that the "surviving furnace" may actually be a reference to this site.
These discoveries were reported in (S1).
P. Watkins (HES), 3 November 2016.

This site (or at least this field) appears to be the source of a small collection of finds held by the King’s Lynn Museum marked “Hardwick NO 1 February 1975”. This assemblage comprises Roman pottery sherds (including Samian and greyware), tiles and slag and is part of a larger collection of material from various sites donated to the museum by [2] (KILLM : 1993.688).
Presumably given to source [1] by [2]?
E. Rose (NLA) December 1993. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 3 November 2016.

February 1980. Field Observation.
Visit to site of earlier discovery at Context 1 by A. Gregory (NAU).
Located on Constitution Hill, on 50ft [15.25m] contour. Finds from surface of ploughed field.
A concentration of tap-slag and burnt carrstone was discovered, about 50m (east-west) and 10m (north-south). The concentration also includes scatter of Roman sherds.
Two patches of burnt clay indicate furnace sites.
Information from (S2).
A. Gregory (NAU) 4 March 1980. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 3 November 2016.

June 2003. NMP.
Various cropmark features identified on aerial photographs taken in 1976, including a large rectangular enclosure with at least one internal division and possible remains of internal buildings. The alignment of a number of other features suggests that they were broadly contemporary with the main enclosure. These cropmarks overlies the probable Roman iron working site identified at Context 1 in 1975. The recorded location of the artefact scatter suggests that it may coincide with the northern ditch of the large enclosure, to the west of a possible entrance.
See NHER 28000 for further details.
M. Brennand (NMP), 18 June 2003. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 3 November 2016.

October-November 2012. Geophysical Survey. Site extended [4].
Magnetometer survey of proposed development area.
This survey revealed a large number of archaeologically significant anomalies, many of which correspond with the previously identified cropmark features. The large, potentially Roman, rectilinear enclosure was clearly visible and can now be seen to measures approximately 200m by 90m. A complex series of internal rectilinear features were also detected, with these being much more extensive than previously revealed by cropmarks. The geophysical survey also revealed further details of the linear features located to the north of the enclosure. These respect the orientation of the enclosure and are almost certainly directly related. Two possible thermoremnant features which may be related to former kilns or hearths were located just to the north of the main enclosure ditch and these are very likely the source of the furnace or ironworking material first identified on the surface of the field in 1975. A large area of scattered magnetic debris which may be related to industrial activity is also present throughout the western portion of this area.
Two linear anomalies were identified in the south-west corner of the investigated area. Theses have been interpreted as probable ditches and at least one of them corresponds with a field boundary depicted on the first edition Ordnance Survey map (S3). Immediately north-west of these, a series of closely set parallel linear anomalies indicative of plough marks were also present. These remain undated.
A large number of more amorphous positive linear and area anomalies were also recorded across the site, but these remain of more uncertain origin and many could represent natural rather than archaeological features.
Previously partially recorded as NHER 60534.
See reports (S4) and (S5) for further information.
H. Hamilton (HES), 6 August 2013. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 3 November 2016.

August-October 2014. Trial Trenching.
Further evaluation of proposed development area.
The 47 trenches excavated revealed a large number of archaeologically significant features, the majority of which were in the northern part of the site, in the vicinity of the previously identified cropmarks and geophysical anomalies. Virtually all of the positive linear geophysical anomalies were found to correspond with sub-surface remains and, as expected, the majority of these features proved to be of probable Roman date. Additional features were also identified in several parts of the site, including ditches, pits and post-holes. A range of Roman features were present in the area to the north of the main enclosure but there was virtually no evidence for activity in the area to the south. The enclosure ditch itself was of considerable size and a number of the associated ditches were also quite substantial. Although this work confirmed the presence of numerous internal features the exact nature of the activities taking place both within and beyond the main enclosure remains uncertain. No structural remains were observed and the various pits and post-holes found were generally isolated and largely unremarkable.
The presence of slag in many of the features confirmed that this had indeed been the site of a Roman iron working industry, although no associated structures were encountered (it should though be noted that the possible thermoremnant features identified by the geophysical survey were not examined). The slag assemblage is fairly homogenous, mostly comprising very dark grey, dense material with smooth, rippled surfaces; consistent with tap slag from the bloomer smelting process. It is clear that ironworking was not the only activity taking place, with the presence of briquetage providing clear evidence for the production of salt at or near the site. The briquetage assemblage includes a number of identifiable forms including a pedestal, plates and various rod and bars (container fragments being notably absent). Of the various features that produced briquetage only one was potentially associated with the salt-making process itself. This ovoid pit was described as a ‘burnt feature’ and appears to have had a clay lining and a reddish brown upper fill. A feature described as a possible kiln was also noted but this was not excavated and it appears that few details were recorded.
It is clear that this was the location of a Roman settlement as well as an industrial site. This is principally demonstrated by the Roman pottery assemblage, which includes a high proportion of local coarse ware jars and cooking pots, as well as other vessels that are suggestive of domestic activity, such as dishes and mortaria. The site also produced a reasonably large assemblage of animal bone, the bulk of which represents butchering waste from cattle and sheep/goat. The elements present suggest that whole carcasses were processed at the site. Samples taken from Roman features produced cereal grains and other remains consistent with domestic debris. The absence of any significant quantities of chaff or non-cereal taxa may indicate that cleaned and processed grain was brought to this site from elsewhere.
The pottery suggests that the main phase of activity on the site probably occurred during the 3rd century AD. The assemblage is not large enough to fully assess the likely status of the settlement, particularly as the relative absence of continental imports and other vessel forms is likely to reflect the broader patterns of supply during the 3rd century as much as the prosperity or status of the site itself. It is, however, perhaps notable that no Roman metal objects or other small finds were recovered. Only a small assemblage of Roman ceramic building material was recovered, the bulk of which was fragments of tegula. Although there was occasional fragments of bessalis brick it is possibly that these had been used within structures associated with an industrial process.
This work also produced limited evidence for prehistoric activity on the site. The earliest finds recovered were a small assemblage of residual Early Neolithic worked flints, including two blades cores. Finds of Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age date were also recovered, including a small number of worked flints and six Beaker pottery sherds, the latter all recovered from a linear feature that also produced a large amount of slag. There was also evidence for at least some activity on the site during the Middle Iron Age. The small number of potentially Iron Age features identified included a pair of adjacent circular pits in the southern part of the site, both of which produced Middle Iron Age pottery. An adjacent ditch also produced a small amount of Iron Age pottery and residual Iron Age pottery was also recovered from a Roman ditch in the northern part of the site.
The Roman settlement appears to have disappeared by the early 4th century AD and the available evidence suggests that the site then saw little activity until the post-medieval period. Ditches of probable post-medieval date were noted in several parts of the site and a range of unstratified post-medieval finds were also recovered.
See report (S6) for further details.
The associated archive has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2016.249).
P. Watkins (HES), 3 November 2016. Amended 21 June 2019.

Monument Types

  • DITCH (Unknown date)
  • PIT (Unknown date)
  • PLOUGH MARKS? (Unknown date)
  • POST HOLE (Unknown date)
  • FINDSPOT (Early Neolithic - 4000 BC to 3001 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Beaker - 2300 BC to 1700 BC)
  • DITCH (Iron Age - 800 BC? to 42 AD?)
  • FINDSPOT (Middle Iron Age - 400 BC to 101 BC)
  • PIT (Middle Iron Age - 400 BC to 101 BC)
  • DITCH (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • IRON WORKING SITE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • KILN? (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • PIT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POST HOLE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • SALT WORKS (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • DITCH (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Unknown date)
  • BLADE (Early Neolithic - 4000 BC to 3001 BC)
  • BLADE CORE (Early Neolithic - 4000 BC to 3001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Early Neolithic - 4000 BC to 3001 BC)
  • CORE (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • FLAKE (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • SIDE SCRAPER (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • POT (Beaker - 2300 BC to 1700 BC)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Middle Iron Age - 400 BC to 101 BC)
  • POT (Middle Iron Age - 400 BC to 101 BC)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • BRICK (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • BRIQUETAGE (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)
  • SLAG (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • SLAG (Roman - 43 AD? to 409 AD?)
  • SLAG (Roman - 43 AD? to 409 AD?)
  • TEGULA (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • ROOF TILE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • TOBACCO PIPE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

<S1>Serial: 1975. Council for British Archaeology Group 7 Bulletin of Archaeological Discoveries for 1975. No 22. p 11.
<S2>Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
<S3>Map: Ordnance Survey, First Edition, 6 Inch. 1879-1886. Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 6 inch map..
<S4>Unpublished Contractor Report: Marsh, B. and Cooper, A. 2012. Geophysical Survey Report. King’s Lynn, Norfolk [draft]. Stratascan. J3202.
<S5>Unpublished Contractor Report: Marsh, B. and Smalley, R. 2013. Geophysical Survey Report. King’s Lynn, Norfolk. Stratascan. J3202.
<S6>Unpublished Contractor Report: Orzechowski, K., Thompson, P. and Mustchin, A. 2015. South-East King’s Lynn Expansion, Norfolk. Archaeological Evaluation. Archaeological Solutions. 4673.

Related records

28000Parent of: Cropmarks of Roman enclosure and associated remains (Monument)
36069Related to: Multi-period finds (Find Spot)
3365Related to: Possible site of Roman furnace (Monument)
3366Related to: Possible site of Roman furnace (Monument)
3367Related to: Possible site of Roman furnace (Monument)

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