Record Details

NHER Number:6100
Type of record:Monument
Name:Arminghall Henge

Summary

A Late Neolithic to Bronze Age henge or henge-like monument, known as Arminghall Henge, is visible as a cropmark on aerial photographs, has been subject to excavation and geophysical survey, and has been recorded as a slight earthwork on the ground. The site is one of the most important prehistoric discoveries in Norfolk. It was first seen from the air in 1929, and was excavated in 1935, when it was shown that the two concentric dark rings seen from aerial photographs were in fact ditches, the soil from these being piled up to form a bank between them. The central horseshoe pattern of dark patches represented sockets for huge wooden posts, probably whole mature tree trunks. The site has been dated by pottery and charcoal to four or five thousand years ago, and it may have been used intermittently for a considerable period of time from the Late Neolithic to Bronze Age. It has been classified as a henge, and presumably had a ceremonial function. It also became a focus for an extensive funerary landscape; numerous ring ditches/barrows and also flint working sites have been noted nearby (NHER 9605, NHER 9592, NHER 9586, NHER 12776, NHER 9587). The potential relationships between the site and the two large hengiform barrows approximately 240m to its northeast (NHER 9592 and 52334) and a second possible henge or henge-like monument at Markshall (NHER 9582) approximately 900m to the southwest may be of particular significance, all the sites forming an approximately northeast to southwest alignment through the henge. The topographic location of the henge is also notable: it lies at the confluence of the Rivers Yare and Tas, clearly a landscape of some significance in the prehistoric period. A late prehistoric flint flake and medieval pot sherd were recovered as stray finds in 2010.

Images

  • Arminghall Henge during excavation in 1935. White lines show the outlines of the ditches and the black dots mark the position of the central timbers  © Norfolk County Council
  • A section through the inner ditch of Arminghall Henge  © Norfolk County Council
  • A section through one of the postholes in the centre of Arminghall Henge  © Norfolk County Council

Location

Grid Reference:TG 239 060
Map Sheet:TG20NW
Parish:BIXLEY, SOUTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

1929.
Henge monument discovered from air. Two concentric ring-ditches and internal features visible as cropmarks.

1935. Excavation.
Excavation for Norfolk Research Committee by J. G. D. Clarke. The henge was shown to be approximately 82m in diameter, comprising two concentric horseshoe-shaped ditches with an intermediate bank and a central setting of eight wooden posts. Sherds of rusticated Beaker pottery were recovered from the primary silting of the inner ditch and charcoal from the base of one of the post-holes yielded a date of 2490 +/- 150 BC (DM-129).

Finds that were unrelated to the construction and use of this monument included Mesolithic worked flints (including microlithic cores and flake) that were recovered from a gravel surface beneath the henge bank. Prehistoric flint flakes and burnt flints of uncertain date were recovered from the fills of the ditches. The upper fills of the ditches produced sherds of Iron Age pottery, along with over 1000 Roman pottery sherds, tile fragments, iron nails and coins.

See reports (S1) and (S2) for further details. The bulk of the finds were donated to the Norwich Castle Museum in 1936 (NWHCM : 1936.67). The Mesolithic flints were donated by J. G. D. Clarke in 1962 (NWHCM : 1962.539).

The Mesolithic worked flints are listed is (S3) as comprising 6 cores, 6 blades/flakes, 2 ?gravers [burins] and 1 miscellaneous piece. Slightly different totals are given in R. Jacobi's records (S4), who listed 9 bladelets (at least 1 retouched) and 7 blade cores.
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 2 April 2014.

1973. Flint flake found.

1996. In molehill. Small early medieval sherd.
See detailed description and list in file.
W.Milligan (NCM) 29 January 1997.

14 June 1996. NLA air photography.
Cropmarks of henge showing superbly. Particularly the horseshoe of pits.
Also see (S4)
S. Massey (NLA), 8 August 2001.

2002.
Square enclosures (NHER 9794 and 9589) suggested as Roman, and associated with the postulated cadastre and other sites. See draft of paper in file for NHER 9794.
D. Gurney (NLA), 2 April 2002.

Before 24 March 2006. Casual find.
Two prehistoric flint flakes.
One sherd each of medieval and undated pottery.
See description in file.
E. Darch (NLA), 24 April 2006.

March 2006. Geophysical survey.
Details to come.
J. Allen (NLA), 3 May 2006.

June 2010. Norfolk NMP.
The Late Neolithic to Bronze Age henge or henge-like monument described above is visible as a cropmark (and perhaps a slight earthwork) on aerial photographs (S7)-(S27), centred at TG 2397 0601. As far as possible, the NMP mapping has been derived from the 1929 pre-excavation aerial photographs, rather than the cropmarks produced by the excavated features. The most significant aspect of the NMP mapping for the site is the apparent continuation of the outer ditch across the entrance through the inner ditch and horseshoe of posts. Although too close to the modern hedgeline to be absolutely certain of its archaeological nature, the cropmark can be traced on the 1996 aerial photographs to create almost a full, unbroken outer circle. This is contrary to the findings (admittedly tentative) of the recent geophysical survey of the site (S28), which postulates an entrance in the outer ditch corresponding with that in the inner, and the NMR record for the site which states that the cropmark evidence suggests three or four breaks in the outer circuit. More broadly, the NMP mapping has contributed a much more detailed picture of the prehistoric ceremonial/funerary landscape surrounding the site, raising questions as to the potential relationships between Arminghall Henge and other sites, such as the Markshall hengiform monument (NHER 9582) and the two large hengiform barrows to the northeast (NHER 9592 and 52334) with which it forms a potential alignment.
As mapped by the NMP, the outer ditch is broadly circular in plan and measures up to 81m in diameter. The inner ditch is slightly oval and distinctly segmented in plan, and measures up to 41m in diameter. The horseshoe of post holes measures 14m long and 13m wide. No clear trace of the bank is visible; there is a slight possibility of a third ditch circuit in the southern quadrant of the site but this is tentative.
S. Tremlett (NMP), 30 June 2010.

The central area of the henge appears to have been cleared of topsoil prior to construction. The inner ditch is regular and of a similar depth throughout. The outer ditch contains an opening which is aligned with the causeway of the inner ditch and the opening in the timber ‘circle’. There also archaeological features of unknown date and origin in the neighbouring garden.
See (S29).
C. Kennett (NLA), 19 August 2010.

29 May 2010. Stray find.
Prehistoric flint flakes and medieval pot sherd.
See list in file.
A. Rogerson (HES), 22 October 2010.

See (S30) for additional aerial photographs.
H. Hamilton (HES), 22 August 2013.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BANK (EARTHWORK) (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • DITCH (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • HENGE (Late Neolithic - 3000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • HENGE (Late Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 701 BC)
  • TIMBER CIRCLE (Late Neolithic - 3000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • TIMBER CIRCLE (Late Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 701 BC)
  • HENGE (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • TIMBER CIRCLE (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Associated Finds

  • POT (Unknown date)
  • BURNT FLINT (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FLAKE (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BLADE CORE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BURIN? (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • FLAKE? (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT (Beaker - 2300 BC to 1700 BC)
  • POT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • COIN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • NAIL (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • TILE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument
  • SHINE

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TG2305 AFV; TG2306 R,S; TG2405 ACW; TG2406 ADR-ADS,AEP,AEY,AEZ.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1993. TG 2305ADA, AGH; TG 2305T - V.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. TG 2306AY - ABD; TG 2406AFH.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. TG 2306AQ - AX.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. TG 2306AC - AP.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. TG 0306W - AB.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1997. TG 2306ABE - ABF.
---Unpublished document: Peterson, J.. 2002. Iron Age and Roman square enclosures near Venta Icenorum: Roman changes in a prehistoric ritual landscape.
---Archive: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Mesolithic.
---Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Neolithic. Bixley (Arminghall) [2].
---Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Iron Age. Bixley (arminghall).
---Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Roman. Bixley.
---Article in serial: Wells, C. 1963. Revised dating of the Neolithic period in East Anglia. Norfolk Research Committee Bulletin. Series 1 No 14 (for 1961 and 1962) pp 10-11.
---Monograph: Wymer, J. J. and Bonsall, C. J. (eds). 1977. Gazetteer of Mesolithic Sites in England and Wales with a Gazetteer of Upper Palaeolithic Sites in England and Wales. Council for British Archaeology Research Report. No. 20. p 204.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
---Article in serial: Clark, J. G. D. et al. 1935. Notes on Excavations in England, the Irish Free State, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, during 1935. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. Vol I pp 130-146. p 133.
<S1>Article in serial: Clarke, J.D.. 1935. Antiquity. Antiquity. Vol IX, p 465-9.
<S2>Article in serial: Clark, G. 1936. The Timber Monument at Arminghall and its Affinities. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. Vol II Pt 1 pp 1-51. pp 1-52.
<S4>Archive: R. Jacobi. -. Jacobi Archive. 10149.
<S5>Publication: Kendrick, T. D. and Hawkes, C. F. C. 1932. Archaeology in England and Wales, 1914-1931. p 25. p 25.
<S6>Article in serial: Horlock, S., Albone, J. and Tremlett, S. 2008. The Archaeology of Norfolk's Aggregate Landscape: Results of the National Mapping Programme. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLV Pt III pp 337-348.
<S7>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Crawford Collection. 1929. NHER TG 2406E-G (Crawford Collection 1865, 1873-4) 18-JUN-1929.
<S8>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Norfolk and Norwich Aeroclub Ltd. 1935. NHER TG 2406AB-C (Norfolk and Norwich Aero Club Ltd 957) XX-XXX-1935.
<S9>Oblique Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. 1956. CUCAP (SQ57) 28-MAY-1956.
<S10>Oblique Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. 1959. CUCAP (YI58-60) 17-JUN-1959.
<S11>Oblique Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. 1959. CUCAP (ZP91-5) 04-JUL-1959.
<S12>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1964. OS/64206 070-1 22-SEP-1964 (NMR).
<S13>Oblique Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. 1970. CUCAP (BCB63-5) 16-JUN-1970.
<S14>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1974. NHER TG 2406K (NLA1/SLIDE) 07-JUN-1974.
<S15>Oblique Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. 1976. CUCAP (BXH39) 15-JUN-1976.
<S16>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1976. NHER TG 2406Y (NLA 27/AEX15) 29-JUN-1976.
<S17>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1977. NHER TG 2406AH (NLA 45/AJA26) 19-JUL-1977.
<S18>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1980. NHER TG 2406AL (NLA 77/ANH11) 04-JUN-1980.
<S19>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1980. NHER TG 2306E-F (NLA 82/ANU5-6) 09-JUN-1980.
<S20>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1986. NHER TG 2306P-Q (NLA 184/DCZ20-1) 29-JUL-1986.
<S21>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1990. NHER TG 2306R (NLA 265/GAY3) 20-JUN-1990.
<S22>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1990. NHER TG 2406ACW (NLA 271/GCV15) 12-JUL-1990.
<S23>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1992. NHER TG 2406AEY-Z (NLA 307/GKX7-8) 06-JUL-1992.
<S24>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. NHER TG 2306AD-E (NLA 361/JAZ1-2) 14-JUN-1996.
<S25>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. NHER TG 2306AQ-AU (NLA 362/JDT5-9) 19-JUN-1996.
<S26>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. NHER TG 2306AY-AZ (NLA 363/AYP12-3) 25-JUN-1996.
<S27>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. NHER TG 2306X-Y (NLA 367/HYH7-8) 02-JUL-1996.
<S28>Unpublished document: Walker, K.. 2007. A geophysical survey of the Arminghall Henge, Norfolk IN PAST.
<S29>Thesis: Walker, K.. 2006. Arminghall Henge, Norfolk: A Re-investigation..
<S30>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Page, M.. 2010. NHER TG2306 ABQ (PAGE) 14-JUL-2010.

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