Record Details

NHER Number:4099
Type of record:Find Spot
Name:Palaeolithic handaxes, flakes and other worked flints, Bartholomews Hills Pits

Summary

A significant number of Palaeolithic worked flints were recovered from these gravel pits when they were being worked in the first half of the 20th century. The material recovered includes over 20 handaxes and many flakes, a number of which display signs of secondary working. This is an important assemblage due to the presence of Levallois flakes and cores alongside cruder, stone-struck flakes. Many of the artefacts from this site can now be found in various museum collections, although there is some possible confusion with material that was recovered from the Thorpe Pits to the north (NHER 4097). It is likely that at least some of the poorly provenanced Palaeolithic material from Southacre came from the Bartholomew's Hills pits (see NHER 58863 for details of these finds). It also appears that a small number of Neolithic flints were found during the excavation of these pits.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TF 8173 1333
Map Sheet:TF81SW
Parish:SOUTHACRE, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

A significant number of Palaeolithic artefacts are known to have been recovered from one or more of the gravel pits located near this crossroads, in the area known as Bartholomew's Hills. The majority of these objects were found by J. E. Sainty and other during the 1930s and 1940s, although a number of additional Palaeololithic finds were recovered in subsequent years. The Palaeolithic material from this site is of particular significance due to the presence of crude cores and thick flakes alongside cores and flakes that display evidence for 'Levallois' techniques. A number of handaxes and flakes with secondary working have also been recovered.

SITE LOCATION

Although the general location of these discoveries is known, the exact provenance of some finds is unclear as several pits were open at the time they were found. Several sources attribute the majority of the finds to a deep pit that was open to the south of the crossroads in the early 20th century (TF 817 130). An article that details Sainty's finds (S1) does however state that "…the only area productive of the implements described lies to the west of the Castleacre road". It has therefore been suggested that Sainty's finds may have come from a long narrow quarry that lay to the north of the crossroads (the extent of which was much the same as the plantation that now covers this area). According to (S2) H. Apling (who helped Sainty collect material at the site) has stated that Sainty's finds were indeed from this pit, rather than that to the south. The northern pit was previously recorded separately as NHER 4150.

RECORDED DISCOVERIES AND EVENTS

1934-1939. Stray Finds/Field Observation.
The first find from this site was a handaxe found by J. E. Sainty in 1934. This object was reported and illustrated in (S3), which describes it as being a "…boldy flaked implement" of ‘Combe Capelle type’. At least three flakes were also found; these described as being of "Clactonian type" suggesting that they were relatively large hard-hammer struck pieces.

Between 1934 and 1939 a number of further visits were made to this site by J. E. Sainty and A. Q. Watson, who also instructed the workmen in how to recognise Palaeolithic flints. Material was also collected by H. Apling. These discoveries are briefly summarised in (S1) and were also reported in the Eastern Daily Press (S4). The flints are described in (S1) as coming from a deposit where the “…absence of stratification by flowing water and the presence of sporadic masses of chalk suggest that the deposit is rather part of a boulder clay than a true gravel, and was apparently laid down by ice". According to (S5), at least some of the implements were found on the quarry reject heaps. The artefacts recovered included over 20 handaxes, cores (both crude and "tortoise" types) and an unspecified number of flakes. Several of the flakes bore signs of secondary working, including pieces that were categorised as scrapers and coarse points. See (S1) for further details. See file for photographs of some of the artefacts recovered (S6), including two not reproduced in (S1).

1935. Stray Find.
'Clactonian' flakes found in 1935 in these pits by P. L. K. Schwabe. Information from (S7).

September 1937. Field Observation.
The Bartholomew's Hills pits were visited by J. Reid Moir and J. B. Calkin in 1937. It is recorded in (S5) that they recovered more than 40 "Clacton" flakes and several roughouts (presumably for handaxes) at "…a depth of about 15 feet". These are described as being patinated white and showing little or no sign of abrasion.

c. 1938-1953. Stray Find.
In around 1938 a number of Palaeolithic flints were recovered from this site by J. O. H. Nicholls. These finds were shown to J. J. Wymer (NAU) between 1985 and 1986. Significantly at least some of these finds were apparently recovered from the southern pit, within the same gravel as that exposed in the northern pit. These finds included two Levallois flakes, one a well struck example found in a deep excavation in the north-east corner of the pit. Both were apparently found in clay at the base of the gravel with several other flakes. Wymer regarded the first of these flake as one of the best examples of this type to come from the site and important dating evidence. See drawings (S8)-(S9) and descriptions in file (some material from British Museum Wymer Archive).

The other finds recovered by Nicholls included at least 3 primary flakes, 2 handaxes (one marked “1953”), 1 possible handaxe roughout and 1 scraper. Information from (S2). According to (S10) a number of these finds were found in situ in a bed of clay marl at the bottom of the pit. The British Museum Wymer Archive was found to contain several rough drawings of Palaeolithic objects from the Bartholomew’s Hills pits. The provenance notes suggest that these are almost certainly finds recovered by Nicholls and presumably some of the pieces that were seen by Wymer. See copies held by HES (S11)-(S15). One flake implement is recorded as being a “large boring tool” – this is probably the same object as a “crude borer” that was identified by Wymer. See copy of brief description in file (from British Museum Wymer Archive).

1957. Stray Find.
At least one handaxe was recovered from this site by H. Apling in 1957.

31 October 1983. Field Visit.
Pits visited by J. J. Wymer (NAU) and A. Lawson. No artefacts found.
Information from (S16).

3-4 April 1986. Trial Excavation
Witness section cut by J. J. Wymer (NAU) and volunteers in north-east corner of southern pit where J. O. H. Nichols’ Levallois flake was found. Section was 2m wide and dug from surface to a depth of 5.2m. Although the bottom was slightly below the original base of the pit no clay seams were identified. The chalk was not reached. No artefacts recovered. See plan and section and copies of relevant correspondence (from British Museum Wymer Archive) in file. Photograph of section in (S16).
J. J. Wymer (NAU), 31 July 1986. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 11 June 2013.

THE NATURE OF THE ASSEMBLAGE

Sainty and Watson interpretation of their Bartholomew’s Hill assemblage drew on a brief report that had been produced by T. T. Paterson of Cambridge (S17), which described the handaxes as “definitely Upper Acheulian but made by ‘Clacton-Levallois’ people". The importance of the material was seen as the evidence for Levallois techniques in an assemblage that also included handaxes and much more basic, hard-hammer struck flakes. Echoing the description given by Sainty and Watson, Wymer (S10) notes that the assemblage is characterised by crude, alternately-flaked cores and thick stone-struck flakes, with ‘tortoise cores’, Levaillois flakes, handaxes and flakes with secondary working also present. Wymer regarded the material he had examined from Southacre (most of which came from this site) as “…the best example in East Anglia of ‘Proto-Levalloisian’”. He felt that, on the basis of their condition etc., it was reasonable to conclude that these finds represented a single industry. Wymer does however note that the handaxes (which include an unusually high proportion of cleaver-like implements) may not have been made here, as suggested by the scarcity of finishing flakes.

LOCATION OF FINDS

It appears that many of the finds recovered from this site survive, although they are now dispersed amongst a number of different museums. Quantifying this assemblage is therefore far from straightforward, particularly as there is potential confusion with finds that were actually recovered from the Thorpe Gravel pits that lay to the north (NHER 4097). A number of the artefacts held by the King's Lynn Museum are recorded simply as coming from Southacre and could be from either site. This poorly provenance material is discussed separately under NHER 58863. In 1968 Roe (S18) listed the assemblage that could be attributed to the Bartholomew’s Hills pits as comprising a total of 228 artefacts, including:
31 handaxes
7 handaxe roughouts/unfinished handaxes
3 cores
37 retouched flakes/flake implements
138 flakes without retouch
1 miscellaneous fragment
3 Levallois cores
8 Levallois flakes
These artefacts are recorded as being held by the British Museum, the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (CUMAA), the King's Lynn Museum and the Norwich Castle Museum (NCM). Material is also recorded as being present in the collections of J. E. Sainty and D. F. W. Baden-Powell. A single flake in the NCM recorded as coming from the "pit at the crossroads" is almost certainly also from this site. Wymer (S10) also gives quantities for a range of artefact types recovered from Southacre, although these include material that was recovered from the Thorpe Gravel Pits to the north.

Norwich Castle Museum (NCM).
The NCM now hold many of the objects found by J. E. Sainty and those who were searching these pits around the same time. The main collection is the finds that were formerly in the possession of Sainty himself (NWHCM : 1959.38), which includes at least one handaxe, several primary flakes, a core, a pebble chopper-core and several flakes with secondary working, including at least two scrapers. A number of these objects are described and illustrated in (S10). See copies held by HES (S19)-(S21).

Other finds acquired from Sainty include the flake recorded as being from “the crossroads” (NWHCM : 1959.42) and a number of Palaeolithic implements that were previously held by the Ipswich Museum (NWHCM : 1963.183). The NCM also holds ten flakes, two cores and six handaxes collected by A. Q. Watson (NWHCM : 1953.177.1).

The museum also now appears to hold the majority of J. O. H. Nicholl's finds, including both Levallois flakes (NWHCM: 1999.87 and NWHCM: 2001.151.2) and eight other objects that are presumably the finds previously shown to J. J. Wymer (NWHCM: 2001.151.2). The NCM also hold as single handaxe found by H. Apling (NWHCM : 1977.124.6), recorded as being found in 1957. This is the only record of this find.

The NCM holds a number of Palaeolithic finds that were recovered in Southacre by P. L. K. Schwabe (NWHCM : 1946.164.32). According to (S22) this collection includes 2 handaxes and 8 flakes. One of the handaxes is illustrated in (S9). See copy of original held by HES (S19). There is however a degree of confusion as (S13) also associates this accession number with a "surface industry including Palaeo flake" that was recovered by Schwabe in a field to the south-west (NHER 4106, formerly NHER 4110). It is possible that at least some of these finds were from this location - the handaxe illustrated in (S10) may actually be an object from this site that was originally recorded as a Neolithic axehead (particularly as the museum's records list this object as being from NHER 4110). See NHER 4106 for further details.

British Museum.
The British Museum holds a small number of the flints found by J. Reid Moir in 1937, these listed as 1 core and 5 flakes (1937,1009.1-6). According to (S2) these are recorded as "called Clactonian, 15ft deep in Cannon-shot gravel, the outwash equivalent of upper chalky boulder clay". Noted by Wymer (S10).

Other museums and collections.
Although Roe’s gazetteer records that the King’s Lynn museum holds material from this site, its nature is unclear. These finds may be amongst those that are currently recorded separately due to their uncertain provenance (NHER 58863). It is possible that the artefacts attributed to this site are a number of flakes that were recovered by J. O. H. Nichols.

Although Roe’s gazetteer suggests that the CUMAA holds material from the Bartholomew's Hills pits this would appear to be an error. The only South Acre finds that could be identified in the museum’s records are 2 handaxe that were donated by H. Le Strange in 1962, both of which are recorded as having being found in a “gravel pit 0.5 miles north-west of the church” ; almost certainly a reference to the Middleton Aggregates Pit (NHER 4097).

At the time Roe produced his gazetteer a number of objects remained in J. E. Sainty’s collection. According to (S22) these included eight handaxes, a flake, two Levallois flakes and two scrapers. This collection was not listed in (S10) and the present location of this material is unknown. The finds that were in the Baden-Powell collection are almost certainly amongst the material that was bequeathed to the Pitt Rivers Museum and now housed at the Donald Baden-Powell Quaternary Research Centre (now part of the Oxford University Institute of Archaeology).

The Palaeolithic finds from this site are also summarised in (S23) and (S24).

LATER FINDS

It is possible that Neolithic worked flints were also recovered from this site by at least one individual, although the evidence is somewhat ambiquous. An NCM record card (S25) lists a "…flint industry of flakes…" found "...3' from surface..." at the "…stone pit at Bartholomew's Hills w[est] of Castle Acre Road". The museum accession number is however the same as for the Palaeolithic finds donated by Mrs Watson that are described above (NWHCM : 1953.177.1). The record card also once noted that these finds are "possibly Upper Palaeolithic". This collection does however contain at least one Neolithic object - a long-pointed piecer noted by F. Healy (S26). See NHER 4101 for further information on this piercer (previously recorded as NHER 14884). It appears that some of the finds collected by Thatcher and Schwabe (NWHCM : 1946.164.32 : A) were also Neolithic, the museum's records for this collection stating that it contains material from a “Neolithic flint industry” that was found at the same time as the Palaeolithic material.

A Late Bronze Age copper alloy spearhead previously detailed in this record is now recorded under NHER 4112. There is no clear evidence to suggest that it came from this site.

P. Watkins (HES), 11 June 2013 and 18 November 2014.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • FINDSPOT? (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)

Associated Finds

  • CHOPPER (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • CORE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • CORE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • CORE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • DEBITAGE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • END SCRAPER (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • LEVALLOIS CORE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • LEVALLOIS FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • LEVALLOIS FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • LEVALLOIS FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • LEVALLOIS FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • RETOUCHED FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • RETOUCHED FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • ROUGHOUT (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • ROUGHOUT (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • ROUGHOUT (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • SIDE SCRAPER (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Bronze Age. Southacre.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Photograph: CYB 3-5.
<S1>Article in Serial: Sainty, J. E. and Watson, A. Q. 1944. Palaeolithic Implements from Southacre. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXVIII Pt III p 183-186.
<S2>Archive: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
<S3>Article in Serial: Sainty, J. E. 1935. Three Combe-Capelle Hand-axes from Norfolk. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. Vol I pp 98-100. p 100; Fig 3.
<S4>Newspaper Article: Sainty, J. E.. 1938. Eastern Daily Press. 23 June.
<S5>Article in Serial: Clark, J. G. D. et al. 1935. Notes on Excavations in England, the Irish Free State, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, during 1935. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. Vol I pp 130-146. p 438.
<S6>Photograph: 1940s?. Photographs of Palaeolithic handaxes and other worked flints from the Bartholomew's Hills pits.
<S7>Archive: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards.
<S8>Illustration: Wymer, J. J. 1985. Drawing of a Palaeolithic flint Levallois flake from the Bartholomew's Hills pits, Southacre. Paper. 1:1.
<S9>Illustration: Wymer, J. J. 1986. Drawing of a Palaeolithic flint Levallois flake from the Bartholomew's Hills pits, Southacre. Paper. 1:1.
<S10>Publication: Wymer, J. J. 1985. Palaeolithic Sites of East Anglia. pp 45-50.
<S11>Unpublished Document: Paterson, T. T. 1944. Report on Southacre Implements.
<S11>Illustration: [unknown]. Drawing of a Palaeolithic flint handaxe from the Bartholomew’s Hills pits, Southacre. Paper. 1:1.
<S12>Illustration: [unknown]. Drawing of a Palaeolithic flint handaxe from the Bartholomew’s Hills pits, Southacre. Paper. 1:1.
<S13>Illustration: [unknown]. Drawing of a Palaeolithic retouched flint flake (?borer) from the Bartholomew’s Hills pits, Southacre. Paper. 1:1.
<S14>Unpublished Document: Wessex Archaeology. 1996. The English Rivers Palaeolithic Project. Regions 9 (Great Ouse) and 12 (Yorkshire and the Lincolnshire Wolds). N&W-1, No. 6 & 7.
<S14>Illustration: [unknown]. Drawing of a Palaeolithic flint flake/flake implement from the Bartholomew’s Hills pits, Southacre. Paper. 1:1.
<S15>Website: TERPS online database. Site 23056.
<S15>Illustration: [unknown]. Drawing of a Palaeolithic flint flake/flake implement from the Bartholomew’s Hills pits, Southacre. Paper. 1:1.
<S16>Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Neolithic.
<S16>Unpublished Document: Wymer, J. J. Journal. Vol 7. pp 114, 158.
<S17>Thesis: Healy, F.. 1978. The Neolithic in Norfolk. p 622.
<S18>Monograph: Roe, D. A. 1968. A Gazetteer of British Lower and Middle Palaeolithic Sites. CBA Research Report. No 8. p 238.
<S19>Illustration: Wymer, J. J. Drawings of two Palaeolithic flint handaxes and a handaxe finishing flake from the Bartholomew’s Hills pits, Southacre. Card. 1:1.
<S20>Illustration: Wymer, J. J. Drawings of a Palaeolithic flint core, retouched flake, flake and pebble chopper core from the Bartholomew’s Hills pits, Southacre. Card. 1:1.
<S21>Illustration: Wymer, J. J. Drawings of a Palaeolithic flint side scraper, end scraper, flake, small bifacial implement and retouched flake from the Bartholomew’s Hills pits, Southacre. Card. 1:1.
<S22>Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Palaeolithic.

Related records - none

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