Record Details

NHER Number:6115
Type of record:Monument
Name:Devil's Ditch, Iron Age to Middle Saxon boundary feature


Originally believed to be an Early Saxon boundary, Devil's Ditch survives here as sections of ditch and bank. The southern end of the feature is located close to the River Ouse, while the northern part is in Harling parish. In between there are a number of gaps, possibly where the bank and ditch have been destroyed. In some places parish boundaries follow the feature. Excavation of a section of the ditch in 2007 revealed that it may have been constructed in the Iron Age and re-cut during the Middle Saxon period.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TL 9898 8277
Map Sheet:TL98SE

Full description

Bank and ditch, partly destroyed. In part parish boundaries follow it. Probably an Early Saxon boundary.

July 1935. Field Observation.
At the southern end of the earthwork the ditch was visible to the west of a bank. However, south of the main road banks were detected on both sides of the ditch. Here, the western bank measured 1.5m (5ft) wide, the ditch was 1.8m (6ft) wide, and the eastern bank was 1.8m (6ft) wide.
Information from (S1).
H.D. Hewitt (NCM).
Updated H. Hamilton (NLA), 13 May 2009.

November 1979. Field Observation.
A public right of way follows the whole length of the monument on the eastern side, although this route is only accessible with difficulty. A the north end the bank and west ditch survive but they are heavily overgrown on the edge of the pine plantation. The bank is approximately 1m high but visibility is limited due to the extent of the undergrowth. Where it leaves the woods on the south the dimensions are about the same but the western bank, if it survives, is not visible. There is a gap approximately 200 yards long, between TL 9882 8209 and TL 9885 8221. This gap is visible on aerial photographs taken in 1977 (S1), which also depict a ring ditch formerly located underneath the bank.

Present northern end against Roman road. Southern end in part of former River Ouse Marshes.
At northern bank and western ditch survive in pine plantation, bank about 1m high. Gap of about 180m (200yds) between TL 9882 8209 and TL 9885 8221, long standing gap. To south of gap bank and ditch survive. To south of main road, best preserved. Overgrown for most of length.
Public right of way follows whole length on eastern side.
Located below the crest of the ground (which is to the west); supports view of W.G. Clarke that is was not a defensive feature.
E. Rose (NAU).

2005. Field Observation.
The short section by Devils Plantation (see Scheduling plan) was visited with English Heritage and Anglian Water prior to laying of a new main. No change to earthwork from 1979 record in file, but some sections are much less overgrown now and there is an unofficial footpath in the ditch to the west.
E. Rose (NLA), 17 November 2005.

October 2006.
Scheduled monument consent granted with respect to proposed archaeological excavation.
See (S2)
H. White (NLA), 25 March 2009

February-March 2007. NAU Archaeology excavation and watching brief. Contexts 10 - 54.
A trench measuring approximately 0.80m wide was excavated across the ditch and the area of the former bank, which had been bulldozed in this area for forest plantation in the 1950s. The ditch measured about 2.50m wide at the top and reached a maximum depth of 1.90m. Its profile suggests that the lower part of the ditch was re-cut or cleaned out. Three samples from the ditch fill have been dated via Optically Stimulated Luminescence, producing dates of approximately 590 BC, 790 AD and 820 AD. This suggests that the ditch may have been dug in the Iron Age and re-cut during the Middle Saxon period.
Further excavation on either side of the ditch recorded a line of at least three undated pits which formed a boundary terminating to the east of the ditch. The southern side of the excavated area had previously been disturbed by installation of an existing water pipeline. A single small, irregular linear feature was identified during the watching brief to the west of the ditch. This feature contained one small fragment of prehistoric pottery, possibly Bronze Age, and a few fragments of burnt bone. 48 struck flints were also recovered, primarily from the ditch fill.
Additional details to follow.
Information from (S3).
See also (S4).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 27 February 2008.

31 May 2013.
Visit to the section of the Devils Ditch between TL9897082749 and TL9874881429. The monument is currently used as a local footpath, known as Garboldisham Footpath 7 however it is very overgrown with numerous trees and scrub growing on the banks. The path is heavily obstructed by nettles and brambles.
K. Powell (HES), 23 Devember 2013

Monument Types

  • LINEAR FEATURE (Unknown date)
  • PIT (Unknown date)
  • DITCH (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD) + Sci.Date
  • BANK (EARTHWORK) (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • BOUNDARY (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • DITCH (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • LINEAR FEATURE (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • DITCH (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD) + Sci.Date

Associated Finds

  • FLAKE (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT? (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TL9984 A-E.
---Publication: Clarke, W. G. and Clarke, R. R. 1937. In Breckland Wilds. Second Edition. pp 85-86.
---Article in Serial: Clarke, R. R. 1940. Norfolk in the Dark Ages, 400-800 A.D., Part II. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXVII Pt II pp 215-249. p 234.
---Scheduling Record: Corbishley, M.. 1982. AM107.
---Scheduling Record: Ministry of Works. Scheduling Report.
---Unpublished Document: English Heritage. 1999. English Heritage Management Agreement.
---Publication: Fox, C. 1923. The Archaeology of the Cambridge Region: a topographical study of the Bronze, Early Iron, Roman, and Anglo-Saxon Ages, with an introductory note on the Neolithic Age.
---Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Early Saxon. Garboldisham.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
<S1>Archive: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
<S2>Scheduling Record: DCMS. 2006. Scheduled monument consent.
<S3>Unpublished Document: Bates, S., Hoggett, R., & Schwenninger, J.. 2008. NAU Report No. 1436. An Archaeological Excavation at Devil's Ditch, Riddlesworth and Garboldisham, Norfolk. Assessment and Updated Project Design.. December.
<S4>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Hoggett, R. (eds). 2008. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk in 2007. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLV Pt III pp 441-452. p 450.

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