Record Details

NHER Number:5719
Type of record:Monument
Name:Mesolithic occupation site and later prehistoric worked flints, Two Mile Bottom

Summary

A large assemblage of Mesolithic worked flint was recovered from this site by F. N. Haward and H. Dixon Hewitt during the early 20th century. Many are these finds now survive in various museum collections. The nature of the microliths recovered suggests that this is a later Mesolithic assemblage and it is clear that this location was some form of occupation or activity site during this period. This is one of a number of sites in the Two Mile Bottom area that has produced evidence for Mesolithic activity (see also NHER 5718, NHER 5717 and NHER 5738). It appears that Dixon Hewitt's finds also included a number of Neolithic flints.
Additional Mesolithic and Neolithic flints were found at this site in subsequent years and in the late 1980s an archaeological evaluation was undertaken in the area immediately adjacent to the river. This work sought to establish whether a land surface associated with the Mesolithic activity survived beneath alluvial deposits. No deposits of this kind were identified and it appeared that any such topography had been destroyed as the river cut into this low lying terrace.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TL 854 863
Map Sheet:TL88NE
Parish:THETFORD, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

EARLY DISCOVERIES BY F. N. HAWARD AND H. DIXON HEWITT

1904-1910. Fieldwalking.
Prehistoric flints were first discovered at this site by F. N. Haward in 1904, after this area was ploughed for the first time in many years. Over the following six years Haward searched this area several times a year, recovering a large number if flint; the majority found in what was described as "a very small area" (Context 1). Numerous burnt flint ‘pot boilers’ were also identified at this site. Haward’s original report (S1) recognised the distinctive character of the flint assemblage, although it was at this time attributed to “…an isolated tribe of hunters and fishers of the true Neolithic period”. This site was also mentioned in (S2), where it was listed as ‘Epipalaeolithic'.

1912 to ? Fieldwalking.
From 1912 Haward was joined in his investigation of this site by H. Dixon Hewitt, another collector who worked extensively in the area around this time. Dixon Hewitt designated this area Site XXII. It should however be noted that Dixon Hewitt’s site XXII appears to have been quite extensive, extending up to the factory site to the north and a significant distance to the south of Haward’s site, into the area known as Chisley Vale. Fig 27.1 in (S3) shows the approximate exact of Dixon Hewitt's Site XXII. Dixon Hewitt was almost certainly aware of the location of Haward’s site, the NCM holding several photographs he took on of the area on which the ‘main site’ is indicated (see file for copies).

Haward’s finds were subsequently identified as representing a Mesolithic assemblage (a term not in use at the time he first described this material) and a number of his illustation were redrawn in (S4). This site is also mentioned in (S5) and (S6) Although the majority of the material recovered from this site is clearly Mesolithic it appears that at least some Neolithic implements were also found, the majority probably by Dixon Hewitt.

According to (S7) an unknown proportion of Dixon Hewitt’s finds from his Site XXII were given or sold to Haward in 1922. Most, if not all of this combined collection is now held by the Norwich Castle Museum (NCM). A number of finds, most likely those collected by Dixon Hewitt, are now dispersed amongst a number of other museums, including the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (CUMAA), the Birmingham City Museum, the British Museum and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, Jacobi (S7) has suggested that these finds were material collected by Dixon Hewitt after 1922.

THE FLINT ASSEMBLAGE RECOVERED BY F. N. HAWARD AND H. DIXON HEWITT

The flints recovered by Haward were described in some detail in his published article, in which many of the pieces are illustrated (S1). Unfortunately this report contains little in the way of quantification. From this report it is clear that the assemblage included many long thin, multi-faceted blades of typical Mesolithic type. Several snapped blade segments are also illustrated. A number of what are now recognised as straight-backed, rod and obliquely-backed microliths are also illustrated - these being described by Haward as gravers, scraping tools and arrow tips. Three small narrow, pointed pieces were interpreted as needles. Only a single tiny narrow point was identified as a “pygmy”. Other flints described and illustrated include both single-platform and two-platform blade cores, a single-sided deniticulate piece made on a flake (described as a ‘saw’) and at least eight scrapers; the latter including end, side, and “horse-shoe” types. Four notched flakes described as “hollow scrapers” are also illustrated. Several discoidal flints were also found, these described as “Spherical pieces of varying standard sizes, chipped all over”. The nature of these pieces is uncertain although they may have been exhausted cores. A number of what would now be called crested flakes are also described, the crests formed by the removal of flakes at right-angles to the main direction of flaking (which Haward correctly identified as having taken place before the flakes were struck from their cores). It is noted that most of the flints have a blue-white patination. A list of find types from this site produced by W. G. Clarke has been copied onto (S8), although it appears that this was simply taken from the published article.

As noted above much of the material collected by Haward and Dixon Hewitt is now held by several museums. Basic quantifications of this material are given by (S9) and material from this site is also discussed and illustrated in (S7). Some additional details are also recorded in (S15).

The finds in the Norwich Castle Museum are listed by (S9) as comprising:
1 tranchet axe
2 cores
59 blades/flakes
12 microliths
Most of these finds are likely to be in the main Haward/Dixon Hewitt collection (NWHCM : 1947.33.19), although the museum records give slightly different totals; listing 20 blades, five cores, two scrapers, an axe and an unspecified number of microliths. Some of the material listed in (S9) may be in the main Dixon Hewitt collection (NWHCM : 1922.39). It also appears that the NCM actually holds significantly more than 12 microliths, with at least 46 of the 79 microliths listed in (S7) recorded as having been located in the NCM. It appears that the other microliths listed by Jacobi were found in the CUMAA, as no other museums are listed as holding microliths from this site. The Mesolithic finds from this site in the CUMAA are listed in (S9) as comprising:
43 cores
474 blades/flakes
12 scrapers
1 graver (burin)
12 miscellaneous pieces
11 microliths
3 micro-burins

Wymer’s gazetteer (S9) also lists 7 flakes/blades in the British Museum and 7 flakes/blades in the Birmingham City Museum. One of the finds in the Birmingham City Museum is presumably the flint listed by (S10) as being marked XXII. This is almost certainly the flint from this museum that is described on (S11) as being a “plunging flake with working on back” from Hewitt’s Site XXII (1938A72).
According to a note on (S8) an object described as a tranchet pick was also recovered at this site, although no additional information is given and the old NCM accession number listed (64.948) does not appear to correspond with any of the current records for material accessioned in 1948.

The Pitt Rivers Museum holds a collection of 100 worked flints from this site that were donated by Dixon Hewitt in 1946 (1946.4.96.1-100). A letter from Dixon Hewitt that accompanys these finds notes that "...Mr. Hayward, as discoverer and describer of the site, possesses all the real implements found by me (as well as those found by himself); and that the material...[sent]..consists only of typical cores and flakes with a very few slightly reworked pieces". This collection is noted in (S15) but no additional information is given. It is possible that these finds actually include the 26 cores and 3 blades/flakes that are listed in (S9) as unprovenanced Thetford finds in the Pitt Rivers.

Based primarily on the nature of the microlith assemblage, this assemblage was dated as later Mesolithic by Jacobi. This would make the assemblage broadly contemporary with that recovered at nearby factory site (NHER 5738), where excavations recovered evidence for the production of later Mesolithic straight-backed microliths. It is noted in (S3) that one of the microliths from this site has a club-shaped 'handle', a feature that was seen on two the incomplete pieces recovered at the factory site. The two assemblages does however differ on typological grounds, with microliths of predominantly straight-backed form being produced at the factory site, whereas the microliths from this site are more mixed, with small, obliquely-backed types predominating. See (S3) for a useful summary of the various Mesolithic sites in the Two Mile Bottom area.

It is noted by Jacobi (S7) that the surviving collections contain a mix of both Mesolithic and Neolithic material, and as a result there are many pieces that remain chronologically unattributed. F. Healy’s thesis on Neolithic Norfolk (S12) notes the following tools as being present in the collections held by the NCM (NWHCM : 1947.33.19) and the Pitt Rivers Museum (1946.4.96):
2 edge retouched leaf-shaped arrowheads (one made on a flake from a polished tool)
2 transverse petit tranchet derivative arrowheads
1 oblique petit tranchet derivative arrowhead
1 triangular arrowhead
1 fragmentary flaked flint axe

LATER DISCOVERIES AND INVESTIGATIONS

1962. Stray Find.
Heavily patinated, chipped flint ‘chisel’ found on surface (TL 8549 8632). Identified as Neolithic. Information from (SNF87257). See NCM drawing (S13).

August 1984. Stray find.
Found by J. J. Wymer on surface of sand at north edge of Broom Covert, c. 10m from bank of Little Ouse (TL 8542 8644):
2 Mesolithic flint cores, 8 blades/blade fragments, 1 broken microlith tip and a 1 'pseudo-microburin'. These finds are now held by the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 1985.192).
J. J. Wymer (NAU), December 1984. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 2 July 2013.

October 1986. Field Visit.
Site visit by G. Holman and J. J. Wymer (NAU). Prolific surface scatter of Mesolithic flint identified on area of land to north of Broom Covert that had been made bare by motorcycles. According to (S11) a number of flints were selected for the NCM including a prismatic two-platform blade core, a retouched blade and a freshly broken microlith. It is not clear whether these finds were ever given to the NCM, although these may be amongst the finds from later phases of work that were accessioned in 1998 (NWHCM : 1998.390).
J. Wymer (NAU), December 1984. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 2 July 2013.

October 1984. Trial Hole evaluation.
Two metre square trial holes dug in advance of erection of radio mast (Context 2).
Three flake and two spalls found in the thin topsoil (10cm thick), but nothing found in the underlying sand which was dug to a depth of 0.5m. The flakes are not of Mesolithic type, and are more probably Neolithic.
J. Wymer (NAU), 3 December 1986.

25-29 July 1988. Fieldwalking and trial excavation.
Investigation of area adjacent to river to ascertain whether further Mesolithic evidence is sealed beneath the alluvial deposits.

Flints were systematically collected from an area to the west of the fenced plantation that was gridded in 10m x 10m squares. Prior to the gridding of the site two scrapers, a blade and a microlith (all slightly patinated) were recovered from an area immediately to the north of the area that was systematically walked (Context 4; TL 8538 8644). These were given to the NCM (NWHCM : 1998.390). The following flints were recovered from the gridded area (Context 3):
25 blades (7 patinated)
41 blade segments (11 patinated)
195 flakes (27 patinated)
291 spalls
2 cores
1 scraper
2 microliths
1 arrowhead
67 burnt flint 'pot boilers'
The notes on this work do not not give dates for this material, although presumably the bulk is Mesolithic. The cores, scraper, microliths and the Neolithic arrowhead are now held by the NCM (NWHCM : 1998.390 : A).

An interrupted 2m wide trench was excavated between the gridded area and the river. Sand and stoney lenses beneath the thin topsoil at the east end produced a mix of modern and prehistoric material, the latter comprising two blade segments, seven flakes, eight spalls and a single burnt flint. Natural undisturbed sandy gravel was encountered at c. 0.5m from the surface.
A similar sequence was revealed close to the river, where only a fresh core and a flake were found. These were probably Neolithic rather than Mesolithic. The conclusion of this work was that the Mesolithic material on the surface does not relate to any land surface which is dipping down to the water level (where it might have been covered by organic sediments). It would appear that the river has actively cut into the low terrace here and destroyed any such possible topography.
See details and site plans in file. A brief summary of this work appeared in (S14).
E. Rose (NAU), 23 May 1990. Amended and expanded by P. Watkins (HES), 4 July 2013.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • OCCUPATION SITE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)

Associated Finds

  • BLADE (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • BURNT FLINT (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • BURNT FLINT (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • BURNT FLINT (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • DEBITAGE (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • DEBITAGE (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FLAKE (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT BOILER (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC? to 4001 BC?)
  • BLADE CORE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BLADE CORE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BURIN (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • CORE (Early Mesolithic to Late Neolithic - 10000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • CORE (Early Mesolithic to Late Neolithic - 10000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • CORE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • CORE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • CRESTED BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • DEBITAGE (Early Mesolithic to Late Neolithic - 10000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • DEBITAGE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • DENTICULATE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Early Mesolithic to Late Neolithic - 10000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • FLAKE (Early Mesolithic to Late Neolithic - 10000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • FLAKE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Early Mesolithic to Late Neolithic - 10000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • MICROBURIN (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • MICROBURIN (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • MICROBURIN (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • MICROLITH (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • MICROLITH (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • MICROLITH (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • MICROLITH (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • MICROLITH (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • RETOUCHED FLAKE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Early Mesolithic to Late Neolithic - 10000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Mesolithic - 10000 BC? to 4001 BC?)
  • TRANCHET AXEHEAD (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • ARROWHEAD (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • CHISEL (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • CORE (Neolithic - 4000 BC? to 2351 BC?)
  • FLAKE (Neolithic - 4000 BC? to 2351 BC?)
  • FLAKE (Neolithic - 4000 BC? to 2351 BC?)
  • FLAKED AXEHEAD (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • LEAF ARROWHEAD (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • TRANSVERSE ARROWHEAD (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Publication: Smith, R. A. 1931. The Sturge Collection: an illustrated selection of flints from Britain bequeathed in 1919 by William Allen Sturge. p 126.
---Archive: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards.
---Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Neolithic. Thetford.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
---Photograph: EQB 10.
<S1>Article in Serial: Haward, F. N. 1914. A Workshop Site of Primitive Culture at Two-Mile-Bottom, Thetford. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. Vol I Pt IV (for 1913-14) pp 461-467.
<S2>Publication: Garrod, D. A. E. 1926. The Upper Palaeolithic Age in Britain. p 187.
<S3>Article in Monograph: Robins, P. 1998. Mesolithic sites at Two Mile Bottom, near Thetford, Norfolk. Stone Age Archaeology: Essays in Honour of John Wymer. pp 205-207.
<S4>Publication: Clark, J. G. D. 1932. The Mesolithic Age in Britain. pp 57-58.
<S5>Article in Monograph: Sainty, J. E. 1935. Norfolk Prehistory. Report of the Annual Meeting, 1935. Norwich, September 4-11. British Association for the Advancement of Science. Appendix pp 60-71. p 65.
<S6>Article in Serial: Sainty, J. E. 1945. Mesolithic Sites in Norfolk. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXVIII Pt IV pp 234-237. p 235.
<S7>Article in Monograph: Jacobi, R. 1984. The Mesolithic of Northern East Anglia and Contemporary Territories. Aspects of East Anglian Pre-History. Barringer, C. (ed.). pp 43-76. pp 53-57.
<S8>Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Mesolithic.
<S9>Monograph: Wymer, J. J. and Bonsall, C. J. (eds). 1977. Gazetteer of Mesolithic Sites in England and Wales with a Gazetteer of Upper Palaeolithic Sites in England and Wales. Council for British Archaeology Research Report. No. 20. p 214.
<S10>Article in Serial: Watson, P. J. et al. 1999. Antiquities from Norfolk in West Midlands Museums. Norfolk Archaeology. vol XLIII Pt II pp 332-338. p 335.
<S11>Archive: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
<S12>Thesis: Healy, F.. 1978. The Neolithic in Norfolk. p 685.
<S13>Illustration: Unknown. 1962. Drawing of a chipped Neolithic flint chisel from Two Mile Bottom, Thetford.. Card. 1:1.
<S14>Article in Serial: 1989. Archaeological Discoveries for 1988. CBA Group VI Bulletin. No 34 pp 32-61. p 45.
<S15>Archive: R. Jacobi. -. Jacobi Archive. 10385; 10392.

Related records - none

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