Record Details

NHER Number:5643
Type of record:Monument
Name:Palaeolithic handaxes and other worked flint implements, Botany Bay/Broomhill Cottage Pit

Summary

Clay was extracted from this large pit during the operation of an adjacent brickworks in the later 19th century. This brickworks lay adjacent to a number of buildings (now demolished) known as Broomhill Cottages. This has been identified as the site of the Botany Bay brick pit, where it is recorded that a range of Palaeolithic implements were discovered in the late 19th century. Although there is a certain degree of uncertainty regarding the location of this site, the Bromehill Cottage pit appears to be by far the most likely candidate. Finds from this site survive in a number of museum collections and include several handaxes. It is also possible that some of the museum pieces recorded as being found at "Broomhill" were also from this site, although it appears that most were probably recovered at the nearby Ballast Pit site (NHER 5642). See NHER 5641 for a full discussion of the unprovenanced Palaeolithic material from the Broomhill area. Similarly, some of the objects recovered as being found in "Weeting" (NHER 5592) may also have come from this site. Given its proximity it is also possible that some of the objects recorded as being found at Grimes Graves (NHER 5640) were in fact recovered at the Botany Bay site.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TL 806 890
Map Sheet:TL88NW
Parish:WEETING WITH BROOMHILL, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

Various Palaeolithic implements are recorded as being found at the Botany Bay Brickworks during the later 19th century.

EARLY DISCOVERIES AND SITE LOCATION

This site was one of several at which S. B. J. Skertchly reported he had found Palaeolithic implements in a series of loams, sands and gravels that lay beneath Boulder Clay (S1). According to (S2) W. G. Clarke reported (in the Eastern Daily Press on October 13 1876) that these objects were found at between 16ft (4.9m) and 20ft (6.1m) from the surface in sand and gravel under boulder clay. It is noted in (S3) that workmen at these pits claimed the objects were recovered from a band of clayey gravel. Skertchly's claims as to the provenance of these objects were however disputed at the time by Evans (S4), who argued that the Boulder Clay lying above the implementiferous layer was not in its original position. See also (S5).

There appears to be a degree of uncertainty as to the exact location of this site, although most sources seem to agree that it was the large pits that lie close to several (now demolished) buildings known as Bromehill Cottages. These are marked as clay pits on the 1st Edition O.S map and are shown as lying adjacent to a brickworks. The location of these pits would also appear to correspond roughly with location given in (S6). Wymer (S7) also notes that these features (which are overgrown but still visible) appear to be the only pits in the area deep enough to match the recorded descriptions. The only problem with this identification is that at least one source (S8) gives the position of the site as lying one furlong to the west of Grimes Graves. As a result, (S9) lists a small pit at TL 812 895 as the possible location of Skertchly's finds, with the Bromehill Cottage pits recorded as a separate site. It is however highly unlikely that this small pit was the source of the Botany Bay finds, as this pit is clearly marked as a gravel pit on the 1st Edition O.S map.

Various museum collections hold Palaeolithic objects recorded as being from Weeting parish and it appears that a number of these finds can be reasonably confidently identified as coming from the Botany Bay brickworks site. It should however be noted that there are many objects in these collections which are simply labelled as 'Broomhill' (or similar), and while these objects are thought to be mostly from the Ballast Pit site (NHER 5642), some could well have come from the brick pits. Similarly it is equally possible that some of the objects recorded simply as coming from 'Weeting' were in fact from this site (see NHER 5592 for a discussion of these finds).

Roe (S10) lists 7 handaxes and 2 retouched flakes/flake implements as coming from the "Broomhill Cottage" site; these being held by the British Museum, the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (CUMAA), the Sedgewick Museum in Cambridge, the Geological Museum in London and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. A much more detailed breakdown was given by Wymer (S7), who listed:
- The casts of three handaxes and a primary flake (from originals said to be Queensland Museum, Brisbane), a massive handaxe, a side scraper and the possible tip of a handaxe in the Sedgwick Museum. The scraper is also noted by (S11).
- Four handaxes, the tip of a handaxe and two primary flakes in the CUMAA. Presumably the same seven artefacts as noted on (S2).
- A single handaxe in the British Museum. See also (S12).
- A handaxe and a cleaver in the Asmolean.
- A single flake in the Geological Museum.

According to E. Rose (NLA) the British Museum also holds a number of Palaeolithic flakes labelled as being "from the brick pit" (S13). These finds were initially recorded under NHER 5592.

Wymer (S7) also describes a number of artefacts under the heading 'Grimes Graves' that it appears were most likely from either the Botany Bay site or at least another clay pit close by. These include an ovate Palaeolithic implement in the Norwich Castle Museum that is recorded as being found at ?Botany Bay (NWHCM : 1962.582). This is presumably the object in the NCM recorded as "…said to have been found near Grimes Graves ?Botany Bay". It is not clear why this was not discussed along with the other Botany Bay finds and it is therefore mentioned here, rather than in the record for Grimes Graves (NHER 5640). Wymer also mentions a second handaxe in the NCM that is marked "Weeting in Boulder clay August 1887 (or 1889)". It is not clear what collection this object is in. Wymer also notes that a large clay pit shown near Grimes Graves on the section figured in (S6) may be the source of a handaxe in the Pitt Rivers Museum. The reason for this suggestion is unclear and it is again unclear why this pit was not seen as the Botany Bay site. It is notable that the description of the deposits at this pit quoted from (S6) by Wymer is almost identical to a description on an early record card (S2), suggesting that the NCM felt this clay pit was indeed the Botany Bay brickworks pit.

According to (S14) the Passmore Edwards Museum collection includes an unregistered flint or stone tool marked "Weeting/Brandon: taken out of chalky boulder clay". This objects is presumably Palaeolithic and the provenance information makes it reasonably likely that it came from the Botany Bay site or a nearby clay pit (being very similar to that given for the objects described above). The Passmore Edwards Museum was in Stratford and held the extensive collections of the Essex Field Club. It closed in 1994 and its collections were put into storage by Essex County Council. This find was previously recorded under NHER 21675.

The Thetford Museum also hold a small collection of 4 handaxes, probably found in the 1920s (THEHM : 1977.160). One is described as having brickearth adhering and is therefore potentially a find from either the Botany Bay site or another brick pit in the vicinity. These finds are discussed under NHER 5641.

P. Watkins (HES), 20 May 2013.

RECENT EVENTS

21 June 1979. Field Visit.
Old Botany Bay pit located by J. J. Wymer. Now covered by nature trees: limes, beech and oak. An eroding section, c. 1m wide may be Sieveking (British Museum) exploration cutting (located at approximately TL 8057 8912). The top 2m was still exposed and showed a very sandy near stoneless silt. Information from (S13), which also includes a sketch plan of the site drawn during this visit.
P. Watkins (HES), 20 May 2013

ADDENDUM

In 1865 a "sand mound" and a possible Neolithic flint mine were excavated somewhere in the Broomhill area. Although in (S14) this information were recorded under the record for the Botany Bay discoveries there appears to be no evidence that this work took place at this site. These features are now recorded under NHER 58827.
P. Watkins (HES), 20 May 2013

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)

Associated Finds

  • CLEAVER (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)
  • 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)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Palaeolithic - 500000 BC? to 10001 BC?)
  • SIDE SCRAPER (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Archive: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards.
---Unpublished Document: Wessex Archaeology. 1996. The English Rivers Palaeolithic Project. Regions 9 (Great Ouse) and 12 (Yorkshire and the Lincolnshire Wolds). LLO-3, No.10.
<S1>Article in Serial: Skertchly, S. B. J. 1879. On the manufacture of gun-flints, the method of excavating for flint, the age of Palaeolithic Man and the connexion between Neolithic art and the gun-flint trade. Memoirs of the British Geological Survey of England and Wales.
<S2>Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Palaeolithic.
<S3>Article in Serial: Hughes, T. McKenny. 1878. The question of the antiquity of Man. On the evidence afforded by the gravels and brick-earth. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. Vol VII pp 162-165.
<S4>Publication: Evans, J. 1897. The Ancient Stone Implements, Weapons and Ornaments of Great Britain. 2nd Edition. p 568.
<S5>Publication: Clarke, W. G. 1925. In Breckland Wilds. First Edition.
<S6>Monograph: Whitaker, W., Skertchly, S. B. J. and Jukes-Brown, A. J. 1893. The Geology of south-western Norfolk and northern Cambridgeshire. Memoirs of the British Geological Survey of England and Wales.
<S7>Publication: Wymer, J. J. 1985. Palaeolithic Sites of East Anglia. pp 104-106.
<S8>Article in Serial: Fisher, O. 1880. On the implement-bearing loams in Suffolk. Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society. Vol III pp 285-289.
<S9>Website: TERPS online database. Site 22772.
<S10>Monograph: Roe, D. A. 1968. A Gazetteer of British Lower and Middle Palaeolithic Sites. CBA Research Report. No 8. p 241.
<S11>Article in Serial: Marr, J. E. 1926. The Pleistocene deposits of Lower Part of the Great Ouse Basin. With appendix by A. S. Kennard and B. B. Woodward on the non-marine mollusca. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society. Vol 82 pp 101-143.
<S12>Publication: Smith, R. A. 1931. The Sturge Collection: an illustrated selection of flints from Britain bequeathed in 1919 by William Allen Sturge. pp 42, 44-45.
<S13>Unpublished Document: Wymer, J. J. Journal. Vol 7. p 29.
<S14>Archive: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.

Related records - none

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