Record Details

NHER Number:52289
Type of record:Monument
Name:Cropmarks of square ditched enclosures, possibly Iron Age to Roman funerary features

Summary

The cropmarks of a group of square ditched enclosures, thought to have had a funerary function and dating to the Iron Age or early Roman period, are visible on aerial photographs within the Harford Farm excavation area on the Southern Bypass (NHER 9794). The excavations recorded a total of six square-ditched enclosures thought to be of late Iron Age or early Roman date. No evidence of central burials or cremations was recovered, although a funerary function was assumed. The NMP mapping in the area surrounding the excavation has revealed possible other square-ditched enclosures, although none of the cropmarks are as convincing as those excavated.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TG 2245 0431
Map Sheet:TG20SW
Parish:CAISTOR ST EDMUND, SOUTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

Some of the enclosures were previously recorded under NHER 9794 and see that record for details of excavations.

November 2009. Norfolk NMP.
The cropmarks of a group of square ditched enclosures, thought to have had a funerary function and dating to the Iron Age or Roman period, are visible on aerial photographs (S1-S8) within the Harford Farm excavation area on the Southern Bypass (NHER 9794) (S9). The site is centred on TG 2244 0431. The excavations recorded a total of six square-ditched enclosures, all positioned in a N-S line and the sides of the enclosures aligned E-W or N-S. No evidence of central burials or cremations was recovered. Evidence of an inner bank or rampart was found at all but two of the excavated enclosures (S9). Very little dating evidence was recovered during the excavations, with Iron Age and Roman material either being considered to be residual or coming only from the upper fills of the ditches. A third century Roman coin was found within the natural silting layers of enclosure 2043, which was also felt to have some similarities with Romano-Celtic temples, such as the Heathrow Shrine (S9). The enclosures clearly post-dated the middle Iron Age settlement, although an Iron Age date (but post-dating the ‘Period 2’ Iron Age settlement) could not be entirely ruled out. The excavation report suggests that the enclosures represented examples of square-ditched enclosed cremation with a central rampart dating to the from c. 50 cal. BC – 50 cal. AD, which were thought to be comparable to square-ditched Gallo-Belgic cremations excavated at Mucking, part of a tradition from northern France, and dated to the later first century BC and the first century AD (S9).
The Norfolk NMP has recorded significant numbers of similarly sized square-ditched enclosures, often in association with Bronze Age barrows, or more significantly at Watlington, with small circular and oblong mortuary enclosures containing unurned cremations thought to date to the late Iron Age (NHER 39458) (S11). These features may be similar to the sixty or so later Iron Age to Early Roman ring ditches that surrounded grave-shaped pits at Fison Way, Thetford (NHER 5853) and it is also interesting to note that one of the ring ditches at Fison Way sat within a square enclosure measuring 9m across (S13). However evidence from square-ditched enclosures elsewhere in East Anglia has suggested an earlier Iron Age date, in particular those excavated at Maxey henge (S10), and have drawn more parallels with the Arras Culture burials, such as those found in large numbers in East Yorkshire. A summary of this evidence in East Anglia was provided in the Norfolk NMP Coastal Report (S11). Unfortunately due to the paucity of finds at many of these sites and the numbers of sites known only from aerial photograph evidence, it is hard to be certain about the relative dating and burial tradition employed. The Norfolk examples are likely to represent a localised version or versions of a tradition of either Iron Age or early Roman date.
Although the NMP mapped at Harford Farm obviously cannot provide any additional dating evidence, the identification of a new roundhouse and additional boundary ditches that follow the same alignment as the square-ditched enclosures may throw additional light on the interpretation and dating of the cemetery, see NHER 52277-8 for details. The NMP mapping has tentatively suggested the presence of an additional phase of Iron Age settlement where the boundary components and the domestic porches are aligned E-W, in contrast to the Middle (or earlier) Iron Age settlement excavated, see NHER 52314 and 52279. Two of the square ditched enclosures sit directly on top of ditches following this orientation (3048 and 6002), and in both cases the southern boundary of the enclosure uses the ditch as it’s positioning line. Another possible square enclosure identified to the east of the main line of enclosures also appears to sit onto a ditch running parallel to ditch 3048. The construction of the square ditched enclosures on top of these boundaries may represent the culmination of this phase of settlement or use of the land for agriculture.
The aerial photographs clearly show the six square-ditched enclosures that were excavated, forming an N-S line. No other additional monuments were found along this alignment, however other possible examples to the west and east were tentatively identified, although none were as clearly defined as the main six and a number of which may be non-archaeological in origin. Within the main barrow (NHER 52282), to the west of enclosure 2043, was a faint square cropmark, 7m across, at TG 2246 0426 (S6). Interestingly this corresponds with the location of the seemingly unenclosed cremation (2005) excavated and dated to the early to mid first century AD (S8). It is feasible that was previously enclosed by a shallow square enclosure. This feature appears to be abutting the main barrow ditch. Another possible enclosure, 9m across, was also noted to the north at TG 2246 0427 (S4, S6), although the cropmark was somewhat dubious and hard to confidently distinguish from agricultural marks alongside the edge of the field. If real, this enclosure would appear to straddle the main barrow ditch. To the west of the main barrow at TG 2240 0427 is another possible square enclosure, 10m across (S6), although not as neatly E-W aligned as other components of the cemetery, it does compare well with the slightly misaligned enclosure 2043 within the centre of the barrow. Again the positioning of this feature at the edge of field makes the confident identification of archaeological cropmarks problematic, but the southern and eastern arms of the ditch appear relatively convincing. Within the northern part of the site, an additional possible enclosure may be indicated by the possible cropmark of an L-shaped ditch, 10m across, at TG 2240 0434, visible in 1933 (S1), however the clarity of the photograph means that a degree doubt over the feature must remain. Another fragmentary L-shaped ditch at TG 2243 0436 (S2) was omitted from the mapping due to uncertainty over the origin of the cropmark, but its possible presence is worth noting. At TG 2249 0433, to the east of the main linear group, is another possible additional square enclosure, 15m by 16.5m, with a small conjoined enclosure to the west, may be visible on top of a ditch running parallel to the excavated ditch 3048 (S3, S5, S6). The identification of the larger enclosure is tentative; the broader cropmark of the western ditch is indistinct and blurry and looks comparable to the definition of nearby geological cropmarks. However due to the fact that some features proven by excavation to be archaeological, look distinctly geological on some of the aerial photographs, it was felt that these possible enclosures were worth mapping and recording. Other possible examples of square-ditched enclosures identified within this area, but away from this main group, have been recorded separately under NHER 52312, 52315-6.
S. Horlock (NMP), 23 November 2009.

Monument Types

  • CEMETERY? (Unknown date)
  • ENCLOSURE (Unknown date)
  • MORTUARY ENCLOSURE? (Unknown date)
  • SQUARE BARROW? (Unknown date)
  • SQUARE ENCLOSURE (Unknown date)
  • CEMETERY? (Iron Age - 800 BC? to 42 AD?)
  • ENCLOSURE (Iron Age - 800 BC? to 42 AD?)
  • MORTUARY ENCLOSURE? (Iron Age - 800 BC? to 42 AD?)
  • SQUARE BARROW? (Iron Age - 800 BC? to 42 AD?)
  • SQUARE ENCLOSURE (Iron Age - 800 BC? to 42 AD?)
  • CEMETERY? (Middle Iron Age to Late Iron Age - 400 BC? to 42 AD?)
  • ENCLOSURE (Middle Iron Age to Late Iron Age - 400 BC? to 42 AD?)
  • MORTUARY ENCLOSURE? (Middle Iron Age to Late Iron Age - 400 BC? to 42 AD?)
  • SQUARE BARROW? (Middle Iron Age to Late Iron Age - 400 BC? to 42 AD?)
  • SQUARE ENCLOSURE (Middle Iron Age to Late Iron Age - 400 BC? to 42 AD?)
  • CEMETERY? (Late Iron Age to Roman - 100 BC? to 409 AD?)
  • ENCLOSURE (Late Iron Age to Roman - 100 BC? to 409 AD?)
  • MORTUARY ENCLOSURE? (Late Iron Age to Roman - 100 BC? to 409 AD?)
  • SQUARE BARROW? (Late Iron Age to Roman - 100 BC? to 409 AD?)
  • SQUARE ENCLOSURE (Late Iron Age to Roman - 100 BC? to 409 AD?)
  • CEMETERY? (Roman - 43 AD? to 409 AD?)
  • ENCLOSURE (Roman - 43 AD? to 409 AD?)
  • MORTUARY ENCLOSURE? (Roman - 43 AD? to 409 AD?)
  • SQUARE BARROW? (Roman - 43 AD? to 409 AD?)
  • SQUARE ENCLOSURE (Roman - 43 AD? to 409 AD?)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

<S1>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.. 1933. NHER TG 2204AR (NNAC HC26) XX-AUG-1933.
<S2>Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. 1959. CUCAP (YI52) 17-JUN-1959.
<S3>Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. 1961. CUCAP (ADD91) 06-JUN-1961 (NHER TG2204AJD).
<S4>Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. 1973. CUCAP (BOB53) 05-JUL-1973.
<S5>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.. 1974. NHER TG 2204Qa-b (NLA 1/SLIDE) 07-JUN-1974.
<S6>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.. 1974. NHER TG 2204S-T (NLA 2/AAW6-7) 14-JUN-1974.
<S7>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.. 1974. NHER TG 2204X (NLA 2/AAW21) 14-JUN-1974.
<S8>Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. 1974. CUCAP (BQF19) 02-JUL-1974.
<S9>Monograph: Ashwin, T.. 2000. Norwich Southern Bypass Project.. East Anglian Archaeology. Vol 91 & 92.
<S11>Monograph: Albone, J., Massey. S & Tremlett, S.. 2007. The Archaeology of Norfolk's Coastal Zone. Results of the National Mapping Programme. English Heritage Project No: 2913.
<S13>Monograph: Gregory, A. 1991. Excavations in Thetford, 1980-82, Fison Way. East Anglian Archaeology. No 53 Parts 1-2.

Related records

9794Part of: Multi-period site at Harford Farm (Monument)
52316Related to: Cropmarks of a group of square ditched enclosures (Monument)
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