Record Details

NHER Number:6096
Type of record:Landscape
Name:Cropmarks of an extensive Roman agricultural landscape

Summary

The cropmarks of an extensive Roman agricultural landscape, consisting of a series of parallel trackways, enclosures and fields covering almost four square km are visible on aerial photographs within the parishes of Beighton and Cantley. A possible Roman villa site has been identified approximately 1 km to the north (NHER 21762) and another villa or settlement approximately 300m to the southwest (NHER 10270). It seems likely that this landscape represents a planned Roman agricultural estate associated with one or both of these potentially high status settlement sites. See NHER 60032 for results of excavations of ditches that correspond with these cropmarks.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TG 3904 0627
Map Sheet:TG30NE
Parish:BEIGHTON, BROADLAND, NORFOLK
CANTLEY, BROADLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

2 July 1974, 21 July 1974, 13 July 1976, 13 July 1986. NAU aerial photography (S17) [9].
Linear cropmark complex containing trackways, enclosures and miscellaneous linear features.
J. E. Bown (NAU), 11 November 1980.

2 July 1974, 28 June 1975, 25 July 1975, 13 July 1976, 17 July 1986. Aerial photography (S18) [10].
Complex of three ring ditches, enclosures and linear cropmarks - some parallel. The ring ditches are at TG 3949 0586, TG 3962 0613 and TG 3969 0612. Note that this complex is adjacent to a linear complex to the west and also one to the south.
J.E. Bown (NAU), 11 November 1980.
THESE CROPMARKS WERE PREVIOUSLY RECORDED UNDER NHER 6097.
They were amalgamated with NHER 6096 as the features appear to be continuous (S. Massey (NMP), 28 June 2007).
ONE OF THE RING DITCHES MENTIONED HERE IS NOW RECORDED UNDER NHER 49616 (S. Massey (NMP), 28 June 2007).
Amended H. Hamilton (HES), 04 April 2014.

2 July 1974. NAU aerial photographs (S23) [13].
Cropmark of rectangular enclosure and possible trackway. Part of field system?
J. Bown (NAU), 11 November 1980.
THESE CROPMARKS WERE PREVIOUSLY RECORDED UNDER NHER 16730.
They were amalgamated with NHER 6096 as the features appear to be continuous (S. Massey (NMP), 28 June 2007).
Amended H. Hamilton (HES), 04 April 2014.

2 August 1995. NLA aerial photography (S19) [11].
Area of cropmarks more extensive than previously recorded, covering approximately one square km and joining up with NHER 16730.
The site appears to consist of at least two, possibly more, field systems. One of which appears to link up with the trackways and enclosures. These are likely to be medieval in date.
The second field system which is on a different orientation, appears to define a series of small square fields, these may be Roman in date.
S. Massey (NLA), 6 August 2001.

2 August 1995. NLA aerial photography (S21) (S22) [12].
Cropmarks of a series of conjoined enclosures visible, with up to four trackways leading to the central enclosures.
This feature appears to be set within a field system, represented by the more regular enclosures surrounding this central focus. It may be that the trackways funnel into an occupation area or possibly a communal stock enclosure.
Several dark/positive anomalies within the central area may relate to the location of structures or hollows, possibly pond like features, relating to watering of stock.
This site may be Late Iron Age/Roman in date, although it may be a medieval enclosure.
S. Massey (NLA), 3 August 2001.
THESE CROPMARKS WERE PREVIOUSLY RECORDED UNDER NHER 13002.
They were amalgamated with NHER 6096 as the features appear to be continuous (S. Massey (NMP), 28 June 2007).
Amended H. Hamilton (HES), 04 April 2014.

8 July 1996. NLA aerial photography (S20) [11].
Cropmarks still clearly visible.
H. Clare (NLA), 25 September 2001.

June/July 2001. Metal detecting.
THESE FINDS ARE NOW RECORDED UNDER NHER 60033.
H. Hamilton (HES), 04 April 2014.

June 2007. Norfolk NMP.
The cropmarks of an extensive Roman agricultural landscape, consisting of a series of parallel trackways, enclosures and fields covering almost four square km are visible on aerial photographs within the parishes of Beighton and Cantley (S6-S9). A possible Roman villa site has been identified approximately 1 km to the north (NHER 21762) and another villa or settlement approximately 300m to the southwest (NHER 10270). It seems likely that this landscape represents a planned Roman agricultural estate associated with one or both of these potentially high status settlements sites.

Much of the site appears to conform to one phase of overall planning or layout, although there is evidence more than one phase in places, such as [1]. It is probable that the features located near to the Norwich Road are associated with the possibly pre-Roman settlement and fields associated NHER 12070. A potentially earlier enclosure and associated fields at [4] has been recorded separately under NHER 49615). Given the complexity of the site and the limitations of aerial photograph evidence for establishing definite chronological sequence, only limited attempts will be made to interpret the various phases of this site. This site, along with NHER 10270 and NHER 21762, require additional interpretative work, which is beyond the current scope of the NMP project, and additional fieldwork to fully understand this exceptional Roman landscape.

The trackways are all aligned broadly northwest to southeast and are generally 4-8m wide and spaced at intervals ranging from 80m to 120m apart. A total of sixteen roughly parallel trackways can be identified throughout the system. The southernmost trackway adjoins the settlement or villa site to the southwest (NHER 10270). Running in-between these trackways are a series of perpendicular ditched boundaries forming agricultural fields and paddocks. These vary in size from 50m to 120m wide. In addition to the fields a number of well-defined enclosures are visible conjoined to the main trackways, particularly in the area of the modern Southwood Road. The clearest of these is located at [2] and measures 55m by 35m (S4, S15). Another enclosure, or possibly pair of enclosures, is located [3]. One measures 45m by 30-40m and a second possible enclosure, measuring 40m by at least 30m, is also visible. To the immediate east of this is another enclosure, [5], measuring 70m by 50m. All of these enclosures are sub-rectangular in shape and have ditches 1.5-4m wide. Other conjoined enclosures may have existed in areas where the cropmark response and oblique aerial photograph coverage is patchier. It is worth noting that almost none of this site was visible on the vertical aerial photographs and therefore the extent of the site reflects the extent of the oblique aerial photographs available. It is possible that it is even more extensive than the mapping suggests.

At the south-eastern end of the site a number of the trackways converge and funnel into a group of conjoined curvilinear and sub-rectangular enclosures, centred on [6]. This would appear to have been defined for the management and corralling of stock. There is definite evidence of more than one phase of enclosures and boundaries in this area. Any boundaries seemingly post medieval in date have been omitted from the mapping.

One of trackways (to the north of the Southwood Road) appears to be sited on a Bronze Age round barrow (NHER 49616). Whilst this may have acted as a convenient surveying point around which to organise the system, it is also likely that it may have been drawing on existing perceptions of territory and boundaries associated the earlier monument. Three other ring ditches have been identified within this large area of fields, located at [7], all near to Lyndhurst Farm and the main barrow site. These are 11-13m in diameter (S6, S9, S16). It is possible that these ring ditches represent the remains of Bronze Age round barrows, although given their size and presence within the enclosures and fields, it is also possible that these represent the remains of the eavesdrip gullies of roundhouses or similar agricultural structures.

A large group of post medieval boundaries overlying the Roman fields, centred on [8], were not mapped. These correspond with the field layout marked on the 1839 Beighton Tithe map (S16). Some aspects of the seemingly Roman landscape, in particular those to the east of the site, appear to match up with or are parallel to boundaries also marked on the Tithe map. This would potentially indicate the some major aspects of the Roman landscape persisted to the post medieval period and even to the modern day. The alignment of the Southwood Road clearly mirrors that of the parallel system of tracks to the north and south and it is feasible that the route itself developed from a trackway that continued in use. Further research would be needed to investigate the date and longevity of these trackways and boundaries.
S. Massey (NMP), 28 June 2007.

August 2010. Geophysical survey and fieldwalking.
THE FINDS FROM THIS WORK ARE NOW RECORDED UNDER NHER 60030.
THE SUB-SURFACE FEATURES DETECTED DURING THIS WORK ARE NOW RECORDED UNDER NHER 60031.
H. Hamilton (HES), 02 April 2014.

October - November 2010. Watching brief (recorded under NHER 60032).
A number of linear features were recorded which correspond with the cropmarks described above.
These features were quite shallow and devoid of finds and therefore could not be dated.
See NHER 60032 for further details.
S. Howard (HES), 5 July 2011.
Updated H. Hamilton (HES), 03 April 2014.

Monument Types

  • ENCLOSURE (Unknown date)
  • FIELD SYSTEM (Unknown date)
  • RECTANGULAR ENCLOSURE (Unknown date)
  • RING DITCH (Unknown date)
  • TRACKWAY (Unknown date)
  • ROUND HOUSE (DOMESTIC) (Early Iron Age to Roman - 800 BC to 409 AD?)
  • FIELD SYSTEM (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • RECTANGULAR ENCLOSURE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • RECTILINEAR ENCLOSURE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • RING DITCH (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD?)
  • STOCK ENCLOSURE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • TRACKWAY (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FIELD BOUNDARY (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD?)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • SHINE
  • SHINE

Sources and further reading

---Archive: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
<S1>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1974. NHER TG 3705A (NLA 9/ACA24) 02-JUL-1974.
<S2>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1974. NHER TG 3806 M-P (NLA 9/ACC6-9) 02-JUL-1974.
<S3>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1974. NHER TG 3906C-D (NLA 9/ACD4-5) 02-JUL-1974.
<S4>Oblique Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. 1974. CUCAP (BQF9-11, 16-18) 02-JUL-1974.
<S5>Oblique Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. 1975. CUCAP (BUY 076-7) 24-JUL-1975.
<S6>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1975. NHER TG 3906Q-T (NLA 19/ADU71-74) 28-JUN-1975.
<S7>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1976. NHER TG 3805G-H (NLA 32/AGA23) 13-JUL-1976.
<S8>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1976. NHER TG 3905E-F (NLA 32/AGA15-16) 13-JUL-1976.
<S9>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1976. NHER TG 3906W-X (NLA 32 AGA20-1) 13-JUL-1976.
<S10>Oblique Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. 1980. CUCAP (CMK 63-4) 03-JUL-1980.
<S11>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1983. NHER TG 3906Z (NLA 137/ATP28) 29-JUL-1983.
<S12>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1983. NHER TG 3905K (NLA 137/ATP26) 29-JUN-1983.
<S13>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1983. NHER TG 3906AE (NLA 137/ATQ4) 29-JUL-1983.
<S14>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1995. NHER TG 3905N (NMLA 356/HEP8) 02-AUG-1995.
<S15>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1995. NHER TG 3806AJ-AL (NLA 356/HEP9-11) 02-AUG-1995.
<S16>Map: Crane, T.M.. 1839. Beighton Tithe Map. 1 inch: 3 chains.
<S17>Aerial Photograph: TG3806 A-AA,AF-AH; TG3906 A-AE.
<S18>Aerial Photograph: TG3905 F; TG3906 A,C-K,Q-U,AF-AG.
<S19>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1995. TG 3806AK-AP.
<S20>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. TG 3806AQ - AT.
<S21>Aerial Photograph: TG 3905G.
<S22>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1995. TG 3905L - W.
<S23>Aerial Photograph: TG 3806M-P.

Related records

49394Related to: Cropmarks of a late Iron Age to Roman field system and possible farmstead. (Monument)
49400Related to: Cropmarks of a late Iron Age to Roman field system and possible farmstead. (Monument)
11865Related to: Cropmarks of an enclosure and field boundaries of possible Roman date (Monument)

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