Record Details

NHER Number:56277
Type of record:Monument
Name:Possible medieval ditch, post-medieval wood bank, and undated enclosure and ditches


In August 2011 a geophysical survey revealed three parallel curvilinear ditches surrounded by a large trapezoidal enclosure and two areas of possible pits. These features were thought to be potentially associated with the Birchamditch or Devil's Dyke earthwork (NHER 3937). Fourteen trial trenches revealed a possible early Iron Age inhumation and an Early Saxon pit or sunken-featured building. Two further trial trenches were subsequently excavated in order to investigate an earthwork bank adjacent to Chalk Lane, but the bank is believed to be a post-medieval wood bank and an adjacent ditch is probably of medieval date.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TF 7487 1219
Map Sheet:TF71SW

Full description

August 2011. Geophysical Survey.
Magnetometer survey in advance of proposed housing development recorded several strong linear and curvilinear anomalies likely of archaeological origin as well as two small clusters of enhanced response of possible archaeological or geological origin.
Three parallel curvilinear anomalies interpreted as ditches were present in the central portion of the surveyed area. These extended to Chalk Lane and may have been associated with the Devil's Dyke (NHER 3937) earthworks. A large trapezoidal enclosure measuring 140m x 80m x 130m appears to have surrounded the ditches, but additional fieldwork is required to determine the relationship between these features. The remaining clusters of anomalies were located immediately south of the enclosure and across the northern edge of the enclosure and have been interpreted as possible pits, but this interpretation remains tentative.
See report (S1) for further details.
S. Howard (HES), 23 November 2011. Amended by H. Hamilton (HES), 29 May 2014.

October 2011. Trial Trenching.
Evaluation of proposed development site. Fourteen trial trenches were excavated, these place to investigate anomalies identified during the earlier geophysical survey.
Human skeletal remains and Early Iron Age pottery dating from the 7th-6th centuries BC were recovered from a hollow. The bones are all large and robust and could all belong to a single individual. Sharp cuts across two of the bones of the lower arms suggest that this individual may have died violently.
A significant feature, possibly a pit or sunken-featured building, was located west of the Devil's Dyke, and produced Early Saxon pottery, typical of urns sometimes found in association with cremations and inhumations. Considerable quantities of animal bone were recovered from this feature, perhaps indicating an emphasis on animal husbandry.
See report (S2) for further details.
A. Cattermole (HES), 19 March 2015.

February 2012. Trial Trenching.
Two evaluation trenches were excavated along the roadside verge bordering Chalk Lane in order to investigate an earthwork bank located on the conjectural line of the Bichamditch (Devil's Dyke) earthwork (NHER 3937).
Both trenches were placed partially on the earthwork bank and extended westwards into the arable field. Within the northern trench, the earthwork bank was 1m deep at the eastern end and tapered towards the west for 2.3m before merging with the subsoil. In the southern trench the bank was very similar, but the deposit was not very distinct from the adjacent subsoil. Both bank sections were found to overlay a layer of subsoil and in both trenches this deposit in turn was found to overlay a north-south ditch. In the northern trench, auger sounding confirmed that the ditch was 0.9m deep, but in the southern trench it reached only 0.3m. However, it remains likely that these ditches are part of a single feature. Unfortunately, no finds were recovered from either trench and therefore these features could not be firmly dated.
Although these ditch and bank features were located along one of the posited routes of the Birchamditch (NHER 3937), it is believed that neither feature is actually associated with this earthwork. The upstanding bank west of Chalk Lane has been interpreted as the remains of a woodland bank, as indicated by an avenue of trees on Bryant's 1826 map of Norfolk (S3). The ditch pre-dates the bank and therefore is a more likely candidate to be connected to the Birchamditch. However, this ditch appears to have been sealed below the same subsoil deposit that sealed the medieval ditch system recorded in the adjacent trenches at this site in October 2011. This ditch is likely of similar date and may have formed part of the same system.
See report (S4) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S5).
S. Howard (HES), 22 March 2012. Amended by H. Hamilton (HES), 29 May 2014.

Monument Types

  • BANK (EARTHWORK) (Unknown date)
  • DITCH (Unknown date)
  • LINEAR FEATURE (Unknown date)
  • PIT? (Unknown date)
  • WOOD BANK (Unknown date)
  • FINDSPOT (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Early Iron Age - 800 BC to 401 BC)
  • INHUMATION? (Early Iron Age - 800 BC to 401 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)
  • GRUBENHAUS? (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)
  • PIT? (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)
  • DITCH (Medieval - 1066 AD? to 1539 AD?)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WOOD BANK (Post Medieval - 1540 AD? to 1900 AD?)

Associated Finds

  • FLAKE (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Early Iron Age - 800 BC to 401 BC)
  • POT (Early Iron Age - 800 BC to 401 BC)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • POT (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Unpublished Contractor Report: Harrison, S. 2011. Land west of Chalk Lane, Narborough, Norfolk. Geophysical Survey. Archaeological Services WYAS. 2262.
<S2>Unpublished Contractor Report: Ames, J. 2011. Archaeological Evaluation of land off Chalk Lane, Narborough, Norfolk. NPS Archaeology. 2879.
<S3>Map: Bryant, A.. 1826. Bryant's Map of Norfolk.
<S4>Unpublished Contractor Report: Ames, J. 2012. Archaeological Trial Trench Evaluation at Chalk Lane, Narborough, Norfolk. NPS Archaeology. 2975.
<S5>Article in Serial: Cattermole, A. 2013. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk in 2012. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLVI Pt IV pp 568-576. p 573.

Related records

3937Related to: Bichamditch or the Devil's Dyke (Monument)
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