Record Details

NHER Number:5940
Type of record:Monument
Name:Iron Age features, Saxon boneworking site and medieval occupation site at Ford Place

Summary

Investigation within the grounds of Ford Place (NHER 40576 and NHER 45469) between 1984 and 2006 has recorded evidence of activity north of the River Thet from the Prehistoric to the post medieval period. The northeastern portion of the grounds was investigated between 1984 and 1986 in order to determine whether the Iron Age earthworks at Castle Hill (NHER 5747) to the north and west originally continued through this area. While no evidence of the Iron Age earthworks was recorded, Iron Age settlement within the area was indicated by the presence of several pits and a cremation within the walled kitchen garden as well as additional Iron Age pits associated with an inhumation and a group of post holes of possible Iron Age date further south. These features also contained a small quantity of residual Neolithic worked flint and Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age pottery, indicating earlier activity. Limited evidence of 13th to 14th century activity was also recorded both within the kitchen garden and further south. In 1998 and 1999 an area in the extreme northwest of the site was investigated prior to extension of Ford Place (NHER 40576). Iron Age occupation does not appear to have extended this far west, but several Late Saxon ditches and gullies were recorded. These features likely represent outlying activity associated with the Saxon town which was focused south of the river Ouse (see NHER 5758, NHER 5847, and NHER 5756). Limited medieval activity was also recorded within this area, represented by a gully, material within the upper fills of a ditch, and a residual 14th to 17th century rowel spur. In 2004 a small area just southeast of the 1998-99 investigations was excavated prior to further extension of Ford Place. An Iron Age ditch dated to the 3rd to 1st century BC was identified within the northern portion of the excavated area. This ditch was orientated northeast-southwest and contained an inhumation which was likely part of a ritual deposit also including animal bone and a clay loom weight. Several Iron Age pits were also recorded north of the ditch. No Saxon features were identified within this area, but a small quantity of residual Early Saxon pottery was recovered. Similar to elsewhere on the site, limited medieval activity was represented by several pits and a ditch or gully. It has been noted that there is a paucity of finds on the site dated between the late 14th century and 16th century, particularly in the eastern portion. This, along with the recovery of fragments of carved stone from the surface of Ford Place gardens (see NHER 45469) lends support to the suggestion that this area may have been included within the grounds of the Augustinian Friary (NHER 5912) to the east. Post medieval garden features associated with Ford Place recorded during the excavations have been described within NHER 45469.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TL 8747 8266
Map Sheet:TL88SE
Parish:THETFORD, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

October 1984. Geophysical Survey.
A resistivity survey was undertaken both within the walled garden and across a clear area of ground to the south in order to determine if the Iron Age ditches around Castle Hill (NHER 5747) continued across this area. The only disturbance seen to extend across the traverses as a possible ditch was a group of low readings at the northern end of traverses 1-6. This area is potentially disturbed by garden paths and wall foundations as it lies at the edge of the garden, but if the feature is a ditch it could indicate that the northern (Old Market Street) ditch cuts into the garden for part of its width.
See (S1) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 27 July 2008.

March 1985. Excavation.
Topsoil stripping of three trenches in the grounds of Ford Place Home for the Elderly in preparation of excavation revealed that features were well preserved in the northeast of the property, adjacent to the northeastern wall of the kitchen garden, but further south earlier deposits had been heavily disturbed by later gardening activities.
See (S2) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 27 July 2008.

December 1985-February 1986. Excavation.
Three trenches (as above) were excavated in the grounds of Ford Place home for the elderly in order to determine if the Castle Hill earthworks (NHER 5747) extended into this area, looping to the south of Castle Hill. Two of the trenches were located within the walled kitched garden while the third and largest was located within the grounds, stretching approximately 21m south from the walled kitchen garden. Prehistoric and medieval features are described below. Post medieval features related to Ford Place gardens are described under NHER 45469.
Early features were well preserved in the southern garden trench as they had been protected by a post medieval mortar floor (see NHER 45469). The floor sealed an Iron Age occupation layer which did not contain any intrusive later material. A cremation (without a container) likely of Iron Age date was identified within this layer as well as three human skull fragments belonging to a young adult. This Iron Age layer sealed an earlier ground surface as well as three pits containing Iron Age pottery. In the northern trench, a group of five pits badly disturbed by later gardening activity were recorded in the south. The two largest of these contained Iron Age pottery and residual Neolithic flint flakes and blades. The three smaller pits were stratigraphically earlier but could not be dated. Several disturbed pits were also recorded in the extreme north of the northern trench, four of which contained Iron Age pottery. Two additional pits contained both Iron Age and 15th to 16th century pottery. The medieval pottery was likely redeposited during later gardening but this cannot be certain. Two sherds of Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age pottery were also recovered from the Iron Age features.
Additional Iron Age activity was recorded south of the kitchen garden. The earliest feature within this area was a pit containing a large quantity of Iron Age sherds and a chalk weight. This was associated with a pit containing an inhumation in its base which may be contemporary. The burial has been identified as a younger human adult, aged approximately 25-30. A single sherd of medieval Grimston ware was recovered from the grave fill, but this may be due to root disturbance. A group of seven post holes are also stratigraphically early and may be of Iron Age date, but these could not be firmly dated. One of the post holes contained two sherds of local 13th to 14th century pottery and it is possible that they are of medieval date. The post holes were overlain by several undated pits. No evidence of the Iron Age defences was recorded within any of the trenches.
Medieval activity within the walled garden was represented by a layer containing 13th to 14th century pottery. It remains uncertain whether this was an occupation layer which was cut through when a later wall was constructed (see NHER 45469) or if it was transported from elsewhere on the site. One deep medieval pit containing 14th century pottery and building material was recorded in the northeast of the southern garden trench. South of the kitchen garden, medieval activity was represented by three pits containing 13th to 14th century pottery, two pits containining late 13th to 16th century pottery, and one pit with a 12th to 15th century vitrified crucible fragment. A paucity of finds between the late 14th century and 16th century may lend support to the suggestion that this area may have been within the grounds of the Augustinian Friary (NHER 5912). The early medieval pits may be associated with activity at the Friary. A higher proportion of post-Dissolution pottery was recorded in the north of the site, within the walled kitchen garden.
See (S2), (S3) and (S4) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 16 October 2008.

September 1998.
This area has been scheduled as part of Castle Hill (NHER 5747). Ford Place house (NHER 40576) and garden above ground features (NHER 45469) have not been included in the scheduling, but the ground beneath them has.
See (S5) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 27 July 2008

December 1998. Excavation. Contexts 301-333?.
Excavation of a single trench prior to the construction of an extension to Ford Place nursing home. Work in two small trenches encountered what might be the upper fills of a north-south ditch recorded during subsequent work (described below). These fills have been dated to the 12th to 14th century.
See (S6) and (S7) for further details.
See also (S16).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 26 July 2008.

February 1999. Watching Brief. Contexts 334?-625.
Monitoring of groundworks for the construction of an extension to Ford Place nursing home. Saxon and medieval features are described below. Post medieval features associated with Ford Place are described under NHER 45469.
Two residual sherds of Middle Saxon pottery.
Two ditches and ten shallow gullies sealed by possible occupation layers were assigned a Late Saxon date as well as two large pits cut into the natural chalk bedrock. One of the ditches contained 10th to 11th century pottery. It was orientated north-south and appeared in three of the foundation trenches. The other ditch was identified during excavation for installation of a sump in the rear garden and contained 11th century pottery and other midden refuse. The gullies included five features orientated east-west, 3 north-south, and one northeast-southwest, assigned to this period because they were overlain by a thin clay deposit containing Late Saxon and medieval pottery as well as butchered animal bone and horn cores.
A gully and the upper fills of the ditch which were encountered during the 1998 excavation have been dated to the 12th to 14th century.
A 14th to 17th century broken rowel spur was recovered from the earliest fill of a post medieval pit (see NHER 45469 for further description of this feature).
See (S7) and (S8) for further details.
See also (S15).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 26 July 2008.

July 2004. Excavation. Contexts 1-126.
THIS EXCAVATION WAS PREVIOUSLY RECORDED UNDER NHER 40576.
Excavation recorded remains dating from the Iron Age to the post medieval period. Prehistoric, Saxon and medieval features are described below. Post medieval garden features related to Ford Place are described under NHER 45469.
The earliest feature encountered was an Iron Age northeast to southwest orientated ditch containing human skeletal remains. The remains included a mandible, semi-articulated cervical vertebrae, and a skull fragment and were sealed by a stony layer. The primary fill of the ditch contained numerous sherds of Iron Age pottery spot dated to the 3rd-1st century BC, a fragment of a clay loom weight, and a large quantity of animal bone including red deer, boar, and peregrine falcon. The combination of human and unusual faunal remains indicates that this was likely a structured deposit. Other features dated to the Iron Age include several pits located north of the ditch which contained Iron Age pottery, butchered animal bone, and a fragment of a knife blade dated to the early Roman period.
The Early Saxon period was represented by a small quantity of pottery, which was likely residual.
The Iron Age pits were cut by a medieval domestic waste pit which contained fragments of butchered and charred animal bone as well as 11 sherds of pottery spot dated to the 11th-13th century. A second pit containing a single sherd of medieval pottery was located to the southeast of this feature, and a ditch or gully at the north end of the site which was cut by post medieval pits has also been assigned a medieval date.
See (S9), (S11) and (S12) for further details.
See also (S14).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 17 July 2008.

June 2006. Watching brief. No contexts used.
THIS WATCHING BRIEF WAS PREVIOUSLY RECORDED UNDER NHER 45469.
No archaeological finds, features or deposits were recorded during monitoring of groundworks for the construction of a new garden room. The subsoil deposits disturbed by the work comprised made-up ground from the construction of the building to which the garden room is attached.
See (S10) and (S12) for further details.
J. Allen (NLA) 7 March 2007.

April 2008. Outline publication synopsis.
This site will be included in a forthcoming monograph investigating Iron Age sites in Norfolk.
See (S13) for further details.
S. Howard (NLA), 5 January 2010.

Monument Types

  • CREMATION (Undated)
  • INHUMATION (Undated)
  • PIT (Undated)
  • POST HOLE (Undated)
  • FINDSPOT (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • CREMATION (Iron Age - 800 BC? to 42 AD?)
  • FINDSPOT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • INHUMATION (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • INHUMATION (Iron Age - 800 BC? to 42 AD?)
  • LINEAR FEATURE (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • PIT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • POST HOLE (Iron Age - 800 BC? to 42 AD?)
  • RITUAL PIT? (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • DITCH (Middle Iron Age to Late Iron Age - 400 BC to 1 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)
  • DITCH (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • GULLY (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • HORN WORKING SITE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • PIT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • BAILEY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CROSS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • DITCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • GULLY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • INHUMATION (Medieval - 1066 AD? to 1539 AD?)
  • PIT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PIT (Medieval - 1066 AD? to 1539 AD?)
  • POST HOLE (Medieval - 1066 AD? to 1539 AD?)
  • GULLY (Medieval - 1100 AD to 1399 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Undated)
  • BIRD REMAINS (Undated)
  • MARINE MOLLUSCA REMAINS (Undated)
  • METAL WORKING DEBRIS (Undated)
  • MOLLUSCA REMAINS (Undated)
  • OYSTER SHELL (Unknown date)
  • SLAG (Undated)
  • WHETSTONE (Undated)
  • BLADE (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)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BLADE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • FLAKE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • POT (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • BIRD REMAINS (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Iron Age - 800 BC? to 42 AD?)
  • LOOMWEIGHT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • LOOMWEIGHT? (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • WEIGHT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • FLUE TILE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • KNIFE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)
  • POT (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • INDUSTRIAL BY PRODUCT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • INDUSTRIAL BY PRODUCT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • POT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ARROWHEAD (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BRICK (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Medieval - 1066 AD? to 1539 AD?)
  • KEY (LOCKING) (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • NAIL (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)
  • TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CRUCIBLE (Medieval - 1100 AD to 1499 AD)
  • ROWEL SPUR (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1300 AD to 1699 AD)

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Archive: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
<S1>Unpublished document: Bartlett, A.. 1984. AML Report No. 27/84. Resistivity Survey at Ford Place, Thetford, 1984..
<S2>Article in monograph: Davies, J. 1992. Excavations at Ford Place 1985-6. The Iron Age Forts of Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. Davies, J. et al. No 54 pp 17-27.
<S3>Photograph: 1985-86. CYE, CYF, CYG. Excavation by NAU and MSC at Ford Place, 1985-86..
<S4>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1986. Iron Age finds at Thetford IN Eastern Daily Press. 29 January.
<S5>Scheduling record: English Heritage. Scheduling Report.
<S6>Unpublished document: RPS Clouston. 1998. Interim Summary Statement on the results of the Archaeological Work carried at Ford Place, Thetford, Norfolk..
<S7>Unpublished document: RPS Consultants. 2000. RPS Consultants Report. Ford Place, Thetford, Nursing Home Extension. Archaeological Excavation and Watching Brief Report..
<S8>Unpublished document: Connell, M.. 1999. Interim Summary of the Archaeological Watching Brief, Ford Place, Thetford..
<S9>Unpublished document: Emery, G.. 2005. NAU Report No. 1005. Assessment Report and Updated Project Design for an Archaeological Excavation at Ford Place Nursing Home, Thetford..
<S10>Unpublished document: Birks, C.. 2006. Chris Birks Archaeological Services Report No. CB058R. Report on an Archaeolological Watching Brief at Ford Place, Thetford..
<S11>Unpublished document: Watkins, P.. 2008. NAU Archaeology Report No. 1403. An Archaeological Excavation at Ford Place Nursing Home, Thetford, Norfolk. Revised Project Design..
<S12>Unpublished document: Emery, G.. 2009. NAU Archaeology Report No. 1195. An Archaeological Excavation at Ford Place Nursing Home, Thetford..
<S13>Unpublished document: Watkins, P.. 2008. NAU Archaeology Report No. 1716a. The Archaeology of Iron Age Norfolk: an outline publication synopsis..
<S14>Article in serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. 2005. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk in 2004. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIV Pt IV pp 751-763. p 761.
<S15>Article in serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 2000. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1999. Norfolk Archaeology. XLIII Pt III pp 521-543. p 538.
<S16>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 384.

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