Record Details

NHER Number:5760
Type of record:Monument
Name:Nuns' Bridges open space

Summary

This area includes the former Weevers Close, now Nunsgate Estate, and the meadow to the east. Early observations speculated that earthworks visible at Weevers Close were related to a Roman camp, but these are most likely of natural origin. A series of 19 trenches were excavated throughout this area in 1957. One of the trenches was located across an escarpment marking the eastern edge of Weevers Close and recorded that it had been deliberately stepped, but the purpose for this remains uncertain. Late medieval and post medieval pottery, animal bone, and a small pit cotaining tile were recorded in trenches to the east of the scarp. At the exteme north of the site, immediately east of Mill Lane, a disturbed burial was recorded which likely corresponds to a suicide burial noted in early sources. The area east of Weevers Close has been scheduled as part of the Saxon Town, but no Saxon remains were recorded during the excavations.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TL 872 824
Map Sheet:TL88SE
Parish:THETFORD, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

Area scheduled as part of Saxon Town (S1).

'Weever's Close' was perhaps partly in this area, but mostly to the southeast and now under Nunsgate estate. Recorded as earthworks by Blomefield (S2). Tom Martin (S3) was sceptical of their authenticity and states the earthworks were removed to fill in marshes, but his map of Thetford marks this area as 'The Camp' ((S2) calls this a Roman camp). One scarp remains on the northeast side of Nunsgate, which A. Rogerson (NAU) believes is probably natural.
E. Rose (NAU) 10 June 1980.

1786 or earlier. Burial.
In 1918, W.G. Clarke (S4) noted that this is the location of a burial known as 'Chunk Harvey's Grave.' The grave is described as located at a crossroads a short distance from the ancient fords of the Ickneild Way (NHER 1398) and adjoining Weevers Close. Weevers Close is depicted on Burrell's map of 1807 (S5) and occupied the area of the modern Nunsgate estate. Folklore surrounding the site includes a tale that 'Chunk Harvey' was a pirate who was hanged and buried here, but this was most likely a suicide burial. This has been confirmed by (S6), which states that the inhumation may have been from as late as 1786.
See (S4) and (S6) for further details.
E. Rose (NAU) 25 June 1982.
Updated H. Hamilton (NLA), 15 July 2008.

April to May 1957. Evaluation: Trial Trenches. (N.B. 1-10, N.B. 12, N.B. 14, N.B. 16, N.B. 18-20, N.B. 22, N.B. 26-7)
Excavation of a series of trenches in this area recorded a small quantity of medieval to post medieval pottery and tiles and a disturbed inhumation. The small finds were contained within three trenches, two within the level meadow immediately east of Weevers Close and one adjacent to the river. N.B. 3 (TL 8729 8240) contained 'late' and post medieval pottery within the fill overlaying a small pit containing roof tiles. N.B. 8 (TL 8727 8242) contained a post medieval pot sherd and tiles. Animal bones were recovered at a depth of approximately 1.3m in NB 10 (TL 8739 8245), below black alluvium with many shells. In addition, N.B. 14 is described as a rubbish dump, but it remains unclear whether this is of modern origin.
The human remains were recovered from N.B. 16 (TL 8709 8253), immediately east of Mill Lane, and are likely the remains of the suicide burial noted above. This was described as a disturbed burial recorded at a depth of 1.2m below dark soil, with no associated finds.
One of the trenches (N.B. 9, TL 8724 8241) was placed to investigate the edge of Weevers Close, which is marked by a scarp up to 1.8m high dividing it from the meadow. This revealed that the natural gravel rose in three steps from the base to the top of the scarp. This appeared to be artificial. The topsoil in this area contained late medieval and modern pottery.
No archaeological finds or features were recovered from the remaining 13 trenches (N.B. 1-2, 4-7, 12, 18-20, 22, 26-7).
See (S7) and (S8) for further details.
E. Rose (NAU) 5 December 1984.
Updated H. Hamilton (NLA), 15 July 2008.

April 2007. Casual Find.
Human remains were found in a spoil heap during groundworks for a new pool. The site was attended by E. Rose (NLA) at the request of the Norfolk Police. The remains consisted of two femurs, one vertebra, part of a pelvis, the head of a radius or ulna, and phalanges. Workers believe the remains were encountered at a depth of 1.25m in a sandy black soil 1.85m north of the south boundary wall. It was stated that animal bones were found with them but only one horse tooth was observed by the writer. The sections were cleaned down as far as possible in the friable collapsing soil but no grave cut, tip lines or other disturbance was visible, nor any trace of further skeletal material. Many flints and fragments of clunch were present throughout. One fragment of peg roofing tile and a section of a clay pipe stem were retrieved and dated by A. Rogerson (NLA) to the 19th century. These remains were located in close proximity to those encountered in 1957 (see above), which was recovered from the other side of the garden wall. The bones will be reinterred on the site below the concrete floor of the pool. The tiles and clay pipe are at the NCM.
Approximately 3m to the north of the findspot a section of mortared clunch walling was visible in the east face of the pit, aligned east-west. The top of this was 0.36m below the surface and it extended to a depth of 0.75m, standing on soil. It was 0.50m in width. The wall was clearly built in situ, but (S1) shows only the present boundary wall of the garden and no structures inside. The present house was built in 1903 for Mr Burrell of the steam engine works.
E. Rose (NLA), 18 April 2007

Monument Types

  • EARTHWORK (Undated)
  • INHUMATION (Undated)
  • INHUMATION (Undated)
  • PIT (Undated)
  • WALL (Undated)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Undated)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Unknown date)
  • ROOF TILE (Undated)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • ROOF TILE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • TILE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • TOBACCO PIPE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Unpublished document: Penn, K.. 1996. NAU Report No. 857. Proposed development at Bury Road, Thetford. The Archaeological Implications. A Report for WS Atkins Environment..
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
<S1>Scheduling record: English Heritage. Scheduling Report.
<S2>Serial: Blomefield, F.. 1805. An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk.. Vol II.
<S3>Publication: Martin, T..
<S4>Article in serial: Clarke, W. G. 1918. The Icknield Way in East Anglia. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. Vol II Pt IV (for 1917-18) pp 539-548.
<S5>Map: Burrell, G. B.. 1807. Map of Thetford.
<S6>Article in serial: Halliday, R. 1994. Wayside Graves and Crossroad Burials. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt I pp 80-83. p 81.
<S7>Monograph: Rogerson, A. and Dallas, C. 1984. Excavations in Thetford 1948-59 and 1973-80. East Anglian Archaeology. No 22. p 53-4.
<S8>Monograph: Dunmore, S. & Carr, R.. 1976. The Late Saxon Town of Thetford: An archaeological and historical survey.. East Anglian Archaeology. Vol 4. p 7.
<S9>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1883. 1883 first edition 25 inch Ordnance Survey map.

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