Record Details

NHER Number:5762
Type of record:Monument
Name:Late Saxon, medieval and post-medieval features

Summary

This site, located on the south bank of the River Ouse close to its confluence with the River Thet, is one of the areas thought to have been part of the original Saxon town at Thetford. Part of the site was Scheduled in the 1960s, after a number of structures had been demolished. Until recently it was the site of the Anchor Hotel, a former coaching inn that had been present here since at least the early 18th century. This was also the site of a 19th century maltings.

This site has now been subject to a number of archaeological interventions, including two phases of trial trenching. It is clear from this work that the topography of the site was markedly different in the past, with an area of higher ground in the centre of the site flanked by areas of lower-lying land to the north and south. This work has demonstrated the survival of extensive archaeologically significant remains that have been largely unaffected by late post-medieval and modern disturbance. There is clear evidence for activity on and around this site during the Late Saxon period, although a number of pits were the only features that could be confidently assigned to this phase of activity. The presence of residual human remains in some of these features indicates that a Late Saxon cemetery may have lain nearby. By the early medieval period (if not before) a number of relatively ephemeral timber buildings were present in several parts of the site, these apparently aligned on the nearby river. There is also evidence that land close to the river in the northern part of the site was being deliberately reclaimed at this time, this possibly associated with the construction of wharfs or revetments nearby (although there was no evidence for such structures on the site itself). In the central part of the site the earliest structures were overlain by the remains of a sequence of medieval and post-medieval buildings, at least one of which was relatively substantial. The remains of a gravel roadway were also identified in this part of the site. Closer to Bridge Street a number of structures likely to represent workshops were constructed during the 13th or 14th century. One contained several ovens and another produced evidence for metal working. Both the roadway and the buildings that survived into the post-medieval period had fallen out of use by the 17th century and it appears that the site was subsequently abandoned until the construction of the coaching inn in the 18th century.

The finds assemblages recovered during the main phases of archaeological work are largely unremarkable for an urban site of this kind. Finds of particular note include a Late Saxon bead made of potash glass, two medieval stone mortars, a number of pieces of architectural stonework and a possible bone skate.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TL 868 830
Map Sheet:TL88SE
Parish:THETFORD, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

Site of Anchor Hotel.
This former coaching inn had a long history, with documentary sources recording the presence of an inn on the site (also known as The Anchor) from at least the early 18th century. The Anchor Hotel closed in 2006 and the building was demolished in 2012. A number of other post-medieval buildings were also previously present on this site, including several associated with a maltings complex. The majority of these structures were demolished in the latter half of the 20th century. These 19th-century flint and brick buildings can be clearly seen in (S1).

1967. Site Scheduled.
The eastern half of the site was Scheduled following the demolition of various buildings and the creation of new car park areas. This was due to the likelihood that this area formed part of the Saxon town, fronting on the river beside one of the principal early fords.
See (S2) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 28 October 2008.

July 1998. Watching Brief. Contexts 1-10.
Observation of groundworks prior to the construction of a new car park recorded construction debris likely associated with the 19th century brick and flint buildings. Three fragments of animal bone and a fragment of modern pantile were the only finds recovered. Although there was evidence for a degree of modern disturbance it was thought likely that archaeologically significant remains survived beneath the uppermost deposits exposed during this work.
See report (S3) for further details. A brief summary of this work appeared in (S4).
E. Rose (NLA) 31 March 1999. Updated by H. Hamilton (NLA), 28 October 2008.

March - April 2010. Trial Trench Evaluation.
Prior to the start of this work a borehole survey of the site was monitored by Birmingham Archaeo-Environmental. The sediments sampled during this survey were also subjected to a preliminary palaeoenvironmental evaluation. The results of this work are presented in (S5).

The main phase of archaeological evaluation saw the excavation of three trenches and a test pit within open ground to the south and east of the former Anchor Hotel. This work suggested that the site was first occupied during the Late Saxon period, with two residual flint flakes the only evidence for activity prior to this period. A number of probable rubbish pits were associated with this early phase of activity, several of which contained residual human remains (suggesting that a cemetery had once lain somewhere in this area).

In two of the trenches post holes and clay floors associated with buildings of Late Saxon or Early Medieval date were identified, overlain in both cases by evidence for successive phases of medieval buildings. It is possible that at least some of the earlier buildings were aligned on the river, rather than the roads that appear to have determined the alignment of the later structures. The later, medieval buildings were represented by various floor layers and foundation trenches. At least one was relatively substantial, with evidence for chalk block and mortar walls. One of the earlier foundations also incorporated a fragment of architectural stone with Romanesque chevron decoration that may have come from the nearby church of St Mary the Great (NHER 5750). The buildings exposed in one of the trenches were probably still in use during the 16th century, with one structure of this date associated with the remains of a collapsed oven. The trench located closest to Bridge Street also exposed a gravel roadway that had probably been established in the medieval period. This road appears to have survived until the 17th-century, going out of use around the same time as the last of the buildings were abandoned. Thick homogenous deposits began to accumulate over the site around this time suggesting it had probably reverted to grazing land.

The southernmost trench exposed little in the way of structural remains and appears to have been situated on an area of land that was more low lying than its surroundings. The features identified in this trench were mostly pits, included a tanning pit of probable post-medieval date. At some point, perhaps as late as the 19th century there appears to have been attempts to raise the ground level in this part of the site.

All of the trenches also exposed floors and walls associated with the various 19th century maltings buildings. Finds associated with these structures included two perforated malting tiles.

The pottery assemblage recovered included a significant amount of Late Saxon Thetford ware (mostly recovered from later contexts) and smaller quantities of medieval and post-medieval pottery. The ceramic building material recovered was mostly post-medieval, although a small number of early bricks and tiles were also found. Other finds included a medieval mortar fragment, a possible lava millstone, daub, a small amount of slag, fragments of architectural flint, a post-medieval coin, and clay tobacco pipe. A total of 10.6kg of animal bone was also recovered, including the remains of eight species of mammal and bird. The assemblage is dominated by butchering and food waste, although there was also some bone and horn-working waste.
See report (S5) for full details.
P. Watkins (HES), 13 November 2013.

June 2012. Test Pit Evaluation.
Three 0.6m deep test pits situated immediately south-east of Bridge Street and south-west of the River Ouse revealed floor surfaces associated with a post medieval malthouse range and a possible post medieval quayside floor. Areas of disturbance/levelling of the site were also uncovered. Finds included post medieval brick and tile, a tobacco pipe stem, animal bone and a single medieval jug handle.
See (S6) for details.
E. Bales (HES), 27 August 2012.

January-February 2013. Trial Trench Evaluation.
Excavation of two further evaluation trenches following the demolition of the Anchor Hotel and an adjoining building. Natural deposits were reached in both trenches, with these found to slope down towards the north-east. Fluvial deposits encountered within the northern trench suggest that this part of the site was once within the channel of a reasonably fast-flowing watercourse.

These trenches provided further evidence for activity in the vicinity of the site during the 10th-11th centuries, with finds of this date being recovered from soil horizons and flood deposits to the south of the former watercourse. There also appears to have been some deliberate dumping around this time in order to reclaim land, possibly associated with the construction of nearby revetments or wharves. A number of small pits were however the only excavated features that were potentially associated with this phase of activity. During the subsequent early medieval period thick deposits of loamy soil accumulated, representing either cultivation of the site or a period of abandonment. This period of relative inactivity was followed by episodes of pit digging and localised dumping and by the 13th/14th century a number of buildings had been constructed close to the Bridge Street frontage. These appear to have been relatively insubstantial structures and were probably workshops rather than dwellings. One contained at least two heaths/ovens and another produced evidence for iron working. The nature of activity changed again in this part of the site during the late medieval/early post medieval period, with the remains of the earlier buildings truncated by pits and eventually sealed beneath garden soils. These trenches also exposed part of a cellar and a substantial wall associated with the Anchor coaching inn as well as the substantial remains of the neighbouring building (15 Bridge Street) that had been built in 19th or early 20th century.

The pottery assemblage was similar to that recovered during the earlier work, with a significant amount of Late Saxon Thetford ware again present. The ceramic building material was again predominantly post-medieval with the exception of a small number of medieval roof tiles and bricks. A number of Late Saxon or early medieval objects were also found including a rare bead made of potash glass, bone needles, an iron pin, a possible lock fragment, a knife blade, and a bone handle. Medieval finds included a limestone mortar. Other finds recovered included a possible bone skate, fragments of slag, a possible pottery crucible fragment, clay tobacco pipe, nails, and bottle glass. Several fragments of architectural stone were also found, a number of which appear to have been burnt. As with the earlier work the animal remains found mostly represented primary and secondary butchery and food waste. There was however some limited evidence for bone and antler working.
See report (S7) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 13 November 2013.

Monument Types

  • CEMETERY? (Unknown date)
  • GRAVEL PIT? (Unknown date)
  • SAND PIT? (Unknown date)
  • FINDSPOT (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • BUILDING (Late Saxon - 851 AD? to 1065 AD?)
  • CEMETERY? (Late Saxon - 851 AD? to 1065 AD?)
  • FINDSPOT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • PIT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • TOWN? (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • BUILDING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BUILDING (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1699 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • METAL WORKERS WORKSHOP (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • OVEN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PIT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BUILDING (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • OVEN (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • PIT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • QUAY? (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • TANNING PIT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD?)
  • COACHING INN (Post Medieval to Modern - 1700 AD? to 2012 AD)
  • BUILDING (Post Medieval to Cold War - 1800 AD? to 1950 AD?)
  • MALTINGS (Post Medieval - 1800 AD to 1899 AD?)
  • WAREHOUSE? (Post Medieval to Cold War - 1800 AD? to 1950 AD?)

Associated Finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Unknown date)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Unknown date)
  • CRUCIBLE? (Unknown date)
  • ICE SKATE? (Unknown date)
  • KNIFE (Unknown date)
  • MUSSEL SHELL (Unknown date)
  • NAIL (Unknown date)
  • OYSTER SHELL (Unknown date)
  • QUERN (Unknown date)
  • RING (Unknown date)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Unknown date)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Unknown date)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Unknown date)
  • WASTE (Unknown date)
  • WORKED OBJECT (Unknown date)
  • FLAKE (Early Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 2350 BC to 42 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Late Saxon to Medieval - 851 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BEAD (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • DAUB? (Late Saxon to Post Medieval - 851 AD to 1900 AD)
  • HANDLE (Late Saxon to Medieval - 851 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Late Saxon - 851 AD? to 1065 AD?)
  • KNIFE (Late Saxon to Medieval - 851 AD to 1539 AD)
  • LOCK? (Late Saxon to Medieval - 851 AD to 1539 AD)
  • NEEDLE (Late Saxon to Medieval - 851 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PIN (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • POT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • POT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • POT (Late Saxon to Medieval - 851 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WASTE (Late Saxon to Post Medieval - 851 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WASTE (Late Saxon to Post Medieval - 851 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WASTE (Late Saxon to Post Medieval - 851 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WASTE (Late Saxon to Post Medieval - 851 AD to 1900 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD? to 1900 AD?)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1200 AD)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1200 AD)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • BRICK (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BRICK (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BRICK (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BRICK (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • DAUB (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FLOOR TILE (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • MILLSTONE? (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1200 AD)
  • MORTAR (VESSEL) (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1200 AD)
  • MORTAR (VESSEL) (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1200 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ROOF TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ROOF TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ROOF TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • SLAG (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD? to 1900 AD?)
  • SLAG (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD? to 1900 AD?)
  • BRICK (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • BRICK (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • BRICK (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • CLAY PIPE (SMOKING) (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • CLAY PIPE (SMOKING) (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • CLAY PIPE (SMOKING) (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FLOOR TILE? (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • MUSKET BALL (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • PANTILE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • PANTILE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • ROOF TILE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • VESSEL (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WINDOW GLASS (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • COIN (Post Medieval - 1614 AD to 1625 AD)
  • PANTILE (Modern - 1901 AD to 2050 AD)

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Unpublished document: Hoggett, R.. 2009. NAU Archaeology Report No. 2194. An archaeological desk-based assessment of the former Anchor Hotel, Thetford, Norfolk..
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
<S1>Monograph: Osborne, D.. 1996. Thetford: A Century Remembered. From 1900 to the present day.. p 118, back cover.
<S2>Scheduling record: English Heritage. Scheduling Report.
<S3>Unpublished document: Phillips, C.. 1999. NAU Report No. 341. Report on an Archaeological Watching Brief at the Anchor Hotel Car Park, Thetford..
<S4>Article in serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 1999. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1998. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIII Pt II pp 369-387. p 383.
<S5>Unpublished document: Stirk, D.. 2010. Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service Report No. 2010/073. Archaeological evaluation for the Forum Development, Thetford, Norfolk.. May.
<S6>Unpublished document: Brooks, R.. 2012. Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service Report No. 2012/086, Thetford Riverside, Thetford, Norfolk ENF129339.
<S7>Unpublished document: Heard, K. 2013. Thetford Riverside (former site of Anchor Hotel), Bridge Street, Thetford, Norfolk: Archaeological Evaluation Report. SCCAS Report No. 2013/038.

Related records - none

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