Record Details

NHER Number:5738
Type of record:Monument
Name:Mesolithic and Early Neolithic flint working, Iron Age/Roman occupation, Roman pottery kilns and Early Saxon features

Summary

A number of Mesolithic flints were found at this site in the early 20th century. Excavations were carried out in 1995-1996 in advance of the construction of a power station here. This work recorded further evidence of an important later Mesolithic presence, with large quantities of worked flint being found. A large number of these flints were recovered from a series of shallow hollows, one of which contained the remains of a hearth. Large amounts of flint debitage was present in these feature, much of which apppears to have been associated with the production of a particular form of straight-backed microlith. The occupation of this site is thought to have been relatively short-term, with a narrow non-domestic focus. The feature with the heath may represent some form of 'cold weather working hollow'. This site is one of several to have produced evidence for Mesolithic activity in the Two Mile Bottom area and lies close to where another later Mesolithic occupation site has been identified (NHER 5719).

There was also evidence of Iron Age and Roman occupation including numerous ditches and pits as well as three or four Roman pottery kilns. These kilns were almost certainly associated with one that discovered nearby (NHER 5730), during the construction of the branch line that connected the Fison's Works (NHER 6531) to the main railway. One of the kilns produced painted wares of late 3rd-early 4th century date; the first evidence for the manufacture of these in the county. One of the kilns also contained a perforated stone though to be a very rare example of a Roman potter's wheel. The site appears to have continued in use into the Early Saxon period, indicated by a series of pits and a possible sunken-featured building. Some of the ditches excavated here have been recognised on aerial photographs, and recorded as part of a larger earthwork site (NHER 54503).

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TL 851 868
Map Sheet:TL88NE
Parish:THETFORD, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

1952. Stray Find.
Found by R. R. Clarke in area between main railway line and siding to theTwo Mile Bottom manure works (Context 1):
1 Mesolithic flint microlith "and flakes". Donated to Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 1952.136). Information from (S1). These finds are listed in (S9) as 1 microlith and an unspecified number of flakes. The provenance is recorded as "north of Two Mile Bottom works", suggesting that these objects are probably amongst the NCM finds from Two Mile Bottom that are listed in (S10). It is also recorded in (S12) that this collection includes a number of Mesolithic flints from "north of Two Mile Bottom works". These finds are listed as 1 Mesolithic microlith, 5 blades, 2 flakes and 1 burnt stone.
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 4 July 2013 and 15 September 2014.

July 1995. Evaluation. Contexts 2-93.
Archaeological evaluation undertaken in response to proposed construction of a biomass-fired power station on and to the north of what was at this time the Marley/Thermalite building materials depot. No initial surface collection was possible due the presence of a thick layer of modern overburden. Because of safety constraints only a small total area of the basal deposits could be exposed. So that any evidence for Mesolithic activity could be identified a number of areas of the original topsoil layer were left in situ during the initial excavation of the trenches, these being subsequently sampled and sieved for artefacts.
The trial trenching showed much of the site to be occupied by very deep disturbances containing modern rubbish. A number of undated features were identified in the undisturbed parts of the site including pits, ditches and a post hole.
A significant number of finds were however recovered, mostly as a result of the sieving. These finds included 660 worked flint and 212 burnt flint 'pot boilers'. The flints recovered included small blades and blade fragments. These combined with the presence of many small chips and spalls suggested that flints were being made on the site (presumably microlithic), although this activity appears to have been widely distributed and of a low intensity. Three retouched microlithic pieces were identified, including a broken microlith and an obliquely-backed bladelet. The only other identifiable tools were two scrapers. Most of the larger debitage was undatable, and it was suggested that it may represent an Early Neolithic rather than a Mesolithic industry. It should however be noted that the large flint assemblage recovered during the subsequent excavation (see below) was predominantly of Mesolithic character.
Other finds included a small assemblage of Roman pottery (79 sherds, mostly from sieved contexts), with the majority of the diagnostic sherds dating from the late 1st to the late 2nd centuries AD.
A single cow or horse bone was also recovered.
See report (S2) for further information. A brief summary of this work also appears in (S3).
E. Rose (NLA), 19 July 1995. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 4 July 2013.

1996. Excavation.
Two areas were chosen for full excavation, each of which measured 40m square.
Over 6000 worked flints were recovered, including numerous pieces of later Mesolithic flint-knapping debris. Much of the Mesolithic debitage was found in situ within a contemporary soil in a concentrated area at the south edge of the southern excavation area. Three hollows in this part of the site were also found to contain large quantities of Mesolithic flint. One of these features, interpreted as a tree-throw hollow, produced over 4500 flints (73% of the total recovered) and had a probable hearth at its centre. It is notable that two-thirds of the flints from this feature were spalls and microblades. The debitage in this and the other stratified contexts appears to have been associated with the production of narrow-backed microliths, a number of incomplete examples of which were recovered. It appears that these microliths were being prepared directly from complete bladelets. The Mesolithic assemblage from this site also included numerous flakes and blades, cores and core trimmings. A single borer, five burins, a notched piece and a serrated flake were also recovered. Other tool types such as scrapers are virtually absent, suggesting a short-term occupation with a narrow non-domestic focus, perhaps a hunting party renewing its armaments. The feature containing a hearth may have been a 'living hollow', but given the large quantities of sharp flint debitage, a preferable interpretation is that it was a 'cold weather working hollow'. This summary is based on the detailed account of the Mesolithic evidence given in (S4), which also contains a useful summary of the other site in the Two Mile Bottom area that have produced Mesolithic finds.

As well as Iron Age pits and field boundaries, there was evidence for Iron Age or early Roman occupation including ditches and fifteen pits.
Roman features included three or four Roman pottery kilns, associated with an enclosure, pits, post holes and structures. One of the kilns produced painted white wares dating from the late 3rd to early 4th century, the first evidence of manufacture of this pottery type in Norfolk.
Numerous Early Saxon features were excavated, including a series of pits and a possible sunken-featured building. No Early Saxon remains were previously known from this site. The presence of late Roman and Early Saxon pottery together in a few features was also of interest, suggesting possible continuation of occupation on this site. See (S5) for further information on the Roman and later evidence from this excavation. A brief summary of this work also appeared in (S6). See also press cutting (S7) in file.
All finds are now held by the NCM (NWHCM : 1999.318).
S. Bates (NAU), 1997 and A. Cattermole (NLA), 10 July 2008.

1996 or afterwards. Stray Find.
Located as 'apparently outside the area excavated by NAU but within the works enclosure' at a depth of 2-3 m.
Quantity of flint artefacts including discoidal knives, Neolithic bifaces, flake knives, retouched and plain flakes and hammerstone; some of Levallois technique. Found by member of the public [1]. The objects that were reported to the Suffolk Museum Service are described in detail in (S6). This discovery was also noted in (S8).
E. Rose (NLA), 14 March 2000.

October 2010. Norfolk NMP.
Some of the ditches excavated here, in area F (S5) have been recognised on aerial photographs, and recorded as part of a larger earthwork site (NHER 54503).
E. Bales (NMP), 18 Oct 2010.

Monument Types

  • DITCH (Unknown date)
  • PIT (Unknown date)
  • POST HOLE (Unknown date)
  • LITHIC WORKING SITE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • DITCH (Early Neolithic to Middle Bronze Age - 4000 BC? to 1500 BC?)
  • LITHIC WORKING SITE? (Early Neolithic - 4000 BC? to 3001 BC?)
  • DITCH (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • FIELD SYSTEM (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • PIT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • BUILDING (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • DITCH (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • ENCLOSURE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • PIT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POTTERY KILN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • SETTLEMENT (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Undated)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Undated)
  • POT BOILER (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (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)
  • BORER (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BURIN (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • CORE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • DEBITAGE (Early Mesolithic to Early Neolithic - 10000 BC? to 3001 BC?)
  • DEBITAGE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • DEBITAGE (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)
  • 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)
  • NOTCHED BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • RETOUCHED FLAKE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • SERRATED BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • DISCOIDAL KNIFE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • FLAKE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • HAMMERSTONE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • KNIFE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • RETOUCHED FLAKE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • POT (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • POT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • KILN FURNITURE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POTTERS WHEEL (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Article in Serial: Robins, P.. 2000. New From Two Mile Bottom.. The Quarterly. No 37. p 13.
---Illustration: Finds Illustrations.
---Archive: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards.
---Archive: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Fiche: Exists.
<S1>Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Mesolithic.
<S2>Unpublished Contractor Report: Ashwin, T. 1995. Two Mile Bottom, Thetford. Report on Archaeological Evaluation, July 1995. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 132.
<S3>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1996. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1995. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt III pp 397-412. p 410.
<S4>Article in Monograph: Robins, P. 1998. Mesolithic sites at Two Mile Bottom, near Thetford, Norfolk. Stone Age Archaeology: Essays in Honour of John Wymer.
<S5>Monograph: Bates, S. and Lyons, A.. 2003. The Excavation of Romano-British Pottery Kilns at Ellingham, Postwick and Two Mile Bottom, Norfolk 1995 to 1997.. East Anglian Archaeology Occasional Paper. Vol 13. pp 57-101.
<S6>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 1997. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1996. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt IV pp 547-564. p 561.
<S7>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1996. Fired up with the Romans. 4 October.
<S8>Article in Serial: Robins, P. 2002. A Late Neolithic Flint Hoard at Two Mile Bottom, near Thetford, Norfolk. Lithics: Newsletter of the Lithic Studies Society. No 23 pp 29-32.
<S9>Archive: R. Jacobi. -. Jacobi Archive. 10379; 10390.
<S10>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.

Related records - none

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