Record Details

NHER Number:38138
Type of record:Monument
Name:Iron Age pit group at Howlett Way, Fison Way Industrial Estate

Summary

This site was evaluated in 2003 and an excavation took place here in 2006. The excavations revealed a Middle Iron Age pit group, as well as Iron Age to Roman linear features and a possible enclosure. This pit group is similar in size, character and fills to two pit groups found in earlier excavations at Fison Way, 250m to the north (NHER 5853). Later Roman features suggest a move towards a more open-field arable economy by the end of the Roman period.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TL 86743 84910
Map Sheet:TL88SE
Parish:THETFORD, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

March 2003. Evaluation. Contexts 1-68 used.
Excavation of three evaluation trenches revealed a group of pits of probable Iron Age date in Trench 1. Trenches 2 and 3 however, contained features of little archaeological significance. This probable Iron Age pit group is similar in size, character and fills to two pit groups found in earlier excavations at Fison Way, 250m to the north, securely dated to the Iron Age. The evaluation area was located in an area of regional, national and international archaeological significance close to both the Fison Way Late Iron Age complex and the findspot of the late Roman 'Thetford Treasure' (NHER 5853).
See (S1) for further details.
See also (S5).
A. Cattermole (NLA), 10 May 2004.

March-May 2006. Excavation. Contexts 100-249.
The majority of excavated features were almost exclusively of Iron Age or Roman date. The Iron Age pit cluster revealed during the evaluation (see above) was fully excavated. Twelve pits formed a discrete cluster in the westernmost part of the site which probably extends beyond the northern extent of the site. Although not all of the sub-circular pits produced dating evidence, their spatial distribution and morphological similarities make it extremely likely that they are all of similar date. A pair of virtually identical Iron Age pits were identified in the south east corner of the site. The Middle Iron Age dates suggested by the ceramic evidence for these pits were confirmed by a series of radiocarbon dates obtained from deposits of burnt cereal grains.
A further small circular pit-like feature was identified as a possible hearth or cooking pit. It was very different in character to the other excavated pits, and traces of a clay lining survived around its base, below a layer of rounded sandstone pebbles. Although no dating evidence was recovered from this feature, it is very similar to two features excavated by Tony Gregory to the north (NHER 5853), both of which were identified as hearths within an Iron Age enclosure. However, the absence of soot or charcoal make it unlikely that this was a hearth, and it is perhaps more likely that the pebbles were heated in fires elsewhere and then used within this feature to either slow-cook food or to heat water.
A variety of linear and curvilinear ditches were recorded across the site. The limited finds assemblages recovered from these features makes precise dating impossible. However, the nature of the ceramic assemblage from these features indicates an Iron Age or Roman date. Two north-north-west to south-south-east aligned ditches appear to have been continuations from features revealed during Gregory's excavation. The regular layout of the Iron Age to Roman ditches within this area suggests at least a degree of landscape organisation, but the shallow and irregular nature of the ditches suggests they were probably short-lived.
A series of more substantial ditches in the eastern part of the site are also likely to be of Iron Age date. One of these ditches may form part of an enclosure. The nature of these more substantial ditches is also somewhat unclear. It is possible that these ditches were contemporary, in which case they may have formed a single funnel-shaped enclosure, perhaps used for controlling the movement of livestock.
Three parallel east-north-east to west-south-west aligned ditches in the south east corner of the site are likely to relate to post-Iron Age activity. These features are probably late Roman and are likely to have resulted from the renewal of a single enduring boundary, suggesting a different style of land-use than in the preceding period, with more permanent boundaries. The excavator suggests this may indicate a shift towards a more open-field arable economy by the end of the Roman period.
See (S2) and (S3) for further details.
See also (S4).
A. Cattermole (NLA), 2 November 2007.

April 2008. Outline publication synopsis.
This site will be included in a forthcoming monograph investigating Iron Age sites in Norfolk.
See (S3) for further details.
S. Howard (NLA), 5 January 2010.

Monument Types

  • DITCH (Unknown date)
  • FINDSPOT (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • COOKING PIT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • DITCH (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • ENCLOSURE? (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • FIELD SYSTEM (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • LINEAR FEATURE (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • PIT (Middle Iron Age - 400 BC to 101 BC) + Sci.Date
  • PIT CLUSTER (Middle Iron Age - 400 BC to 101 BC)
  • BOUNDARY DITCH (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • DITCH (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • LINEAR FEATURE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • DITCH (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POST HOLE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Unknown date)
  • BURNT FLINT (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • CORE (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • BLADE (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FLAKE (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • RETOUCHED FLAKE (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT (Bronze Age - 2350 BC? to 701 BC?)
  • POT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • PLANT REMAINS (Middle Iron Age - 400 BC to 101 BC)
  • COIN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • TILE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • BRICK (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • PIPE (SMOKING) (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • TILE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • SHINE

Sources and further reading

---Unpublished document: Watkins, P.. 2008. NAU Archaeology Report No. 1321b. An Archaeological Excavation at Howlett Way, Thetford, Norfolk. Revised Project Design..
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Fiche: Exists.
<S1>Unpublished document: Penn, K.. 2003. NAU Report No. 836. An Archaeological Evaluation at Lodge Way, Fison Way Industrial Estate, Thetford, Norfolk..
<S2>Unpublished document: Watkins, P.J.. 2006. NAU Archaeology Report No. 1171. An Archaeological Excavation at Howlett Way, Thetford, Norfolk. Assessment report and updated project design..
<S3>Unpublished document: Watkins, P.J.. 2007. NAU Archaeology Report No. 1321. An Archaeological Excavation at Howlett Way, Thetford, Norfolk..
<S4>Article in serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 2007. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk in 2006. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLV Pt II pp 261-273. p 271.
<S5>Article in serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. 2004. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 2003. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIV Pt III pp 573-588. p 586.

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