Record Details

NHER Number:6603
Type of record:Find Spot
Name:Palaeolithic worked flints and complete handled Beaker, East Beckham Road pit

Summary

A range of Palaeolithic worked flints, including at least one handaxe, were recovered from a gravel pit here during the late 19th century and early 20th century. In around 1913 a complete Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age handled Beaker pottery vessel was found in this pit.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TG 163 393
Map Sheet:TG13NE
Parish:GRESHAM, NORTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

3 January 1913. Stray Find.
Found by J. Cox (headmaster of Gresham School):
1 Palaeolithic "Group I" flint handaxe with "basket-work" patina. Subsequently acquired by F. H. Barclay (his Collection No. 17) and later donated to the Norwich Castle Museum (Cox-Barclay Collection NWHCM : 1935.57; not individually accessioned). Information from (S1).
This handaxe was exhibited by Cox at a meeting of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia on 10 March 1913. A photograph of this handaxe was included in (S2), which reports it as a "Palaeolithic coup-de-poing" that had been found within a gravel deposit in a pit in Gresham, 2ft below a clay-filled depression. Although the exact location of the pit was not given in (S2), it is noted as also being the source of a complete handled Beaker: which we know from subsequent sources to have been found at this pit on the East Beckham Road (see below). The photograph from (S2) is reproduced in (S3).

This handaxe is listed in (S4) ("East Beckham Road Pit") and described on (S5) and in (S6) as a pointed handaxe with distinctive dendritic patina, in sharp condition. Although Roe (S4) identified the source of this object as the East Beckham Road pit, Wymer (S6) incorrectly associated it with a pit near the church (NHER 60085). This handaxe is also noted in (S7) and (S8), although no additional information is given.

Pre 1920. Stray Find.
It is known that Cox recovered a range of Palaeolithic and potentially-Palaeolithic flint objects from Gresham during the late 19th century and early 20th century. Although the source of some is recorded (or can be inferred from other recorded information), the provenance of many is much less certain. The latter include a "…series of early Palaeoliths found…in sand and gravel on a slope of a tributary of the Bure" that were exhibited by Cox at a meeting of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia on 13 March 1911 (S9). A range of Cox's potentially Palaeolithic finds are also described and illustrated in (S10). Although precise locations are not given for these finds, it is stated that the majority were recovered from two pits situated at 237ft [72m] O. D. and 230ft [70m] O.D. This description, coupled with that in (S9) suggests these objects were recovered from the East Beckham Road pit and the nearby pit that lay to the north of Gresham church (NHER 60085). Although Wymer (S6) suggests that the majority of these finds were from the pit near the church, the Beckham Road pit would appear to be a much more likely provenance. It is clear from (S9) that many of Cox's finds were recovered while gravel was being extracted and of the two pits, it would appear that only the Beckham Road pit was being worked at this time. These finds are also recorded by (S1) as being from the Beckham Road Pit.

The probable Beckham Road pit finds include an implement that Cox exhibited at a meeting of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia on 13 October 1913. This was described as a having been found in a "...layer of white sand and gravel, mostly sand, of a depth of 18ft…" (S11). This object is figured in (S10), although here it is described as a handaxe. This is possibly a side scraper that Wymer identified in the NCM's Cox-Barclay collection, which is associated with a very similar provenance ("18' deep in pit in white sand"). There is however a side scraper illustrated in (S10) which is perhaps a more likely candidate for this object. This scraper is described on (S5) and is presumably the flake implement from the "East Beckham Road Gravel Pit" that is listed in (S4) as being held by the NCM.

The other finds described and figured include 1 scraper, 1 "batiform implement", 2 handaxes, 1 "rostro-carinate implement" and 1 "striated implement". These were apparently a selection of many potentially flaked pieces that had been retained by Cox. They had been seen by J. Reid Moir who felt that the majority were of "...Middle Glacial origin with a few derived specimens from the Sub-crag bed". It should be note that many of the objects claimed as Lower Palaeolithic implements around this time are now seen as being much more likely to be naturally-fractured flints. Wymer (S6) regarded the majority of the published objects are "dubious artefacts", although he does identify one as a cordate handaxe with a tranchet cutting edge. This object could not be identified in the NCM's collection.

According to (S1) a range of Cox's finds from the "Beckham Road Pit" are now part of the NCM's Cox-Barclay collection (NWHCM : 1935.57; not individually accessioned). This assemblage is listed as comprising:
1 "Late Acheulean" handaxe with "basket-work patina" (see above), 1 axe (orange), 1 ovate (broken) 1 pointed axe (white) and 1 scraper.
1 "Early Palaeo" chopper, 1 axe flaked from core (patches of cortex, ?Mousterian), 1 hammerstone, 1 horseshoe-shaped implement, 1 implement of mixed type.
1 "?Abbevillian" large handaxe.
Clactonian scrapers, knives etc.
1 ?Levallois implement with facetted butt.
?Mesolithic knives.
Backed knives.
Due to the archaic terminology used this list is difficult to assess, particularly as it is doubtful whether the majority of Cox's finds were genuine Palaeolithic artefacts. It is notable that the handaxe and side scraper discussed above are the only objects with this provenance that are listed in Roe's gazetteer (S4).

Cox's Gresham finds are also noted in (S12) and (S13).
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 21 June 2014.

Pre 10 March 1913. Stray Find.
Handled 'A' Beaker (Phase II degenerate), with break in profile between the neck and the rim. This bevelled rim is a late development. Found 0.9m (3 feet) down in a gravel pit. Height; 13.2cm (5.2 inches). c.f. (S14). Donated to Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 1940.80). Information from (S15). First reported in (S2) and described in detail in (S16). Also noted in (S17) and (S18).
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 21 June 2014.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 1000000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Palaeolithic - 1000000 BC? to 10001 BC?)
  • FINDSPOT (Middle Palaeolithic - 150000 BC? to 40001 BC?)
  • FINDSPOT (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Beaker - 2300 BC to 1700 BC)

Associated Finds

  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE? (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE? (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC? to 40001 BC?)
  • LEVALLOIS FLAKE? (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC? to 40001 BC?)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT? (Lower Palaeolithic to Upper Palaeolithic - 500000 BC? to 10001 BC?)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL)? (Lower Palaeolithic to Upper Palaeolithic - 500000 BC? to 10001 BC?)
  • SIDE SCRAPER (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Mesolithic - 10000 BC? to 4001 BC?)
  • POT (Beaker - 2300 BC to 1700 BC)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Publication: Clarke, D. L. 1970. Beaker Pottery of Great Britain and Ireland. Vol 2. No 541; Fig 1076.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 13 NE 2.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Palaeolithic.
<S2>Article in Serial: 1913. Summary of Proceedings. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. Vol I Pt III (for 1912-13) pp 378-382. p 381; Plate XCVIII.
<S3>Publication: Moir, J. Reid. 1927. The Antiquity of Man in East Anglia. p 65; Pl IX.
<S4>Monograph: Roe, D. A. 1968. A Gazetteer of British Lower and Middle Palaeolithic Sites. CBA Research Report. No 8. p 232.
<S5>Record Card: Wymer, J. J. Wymer Index Card - Palaeolithic. Gresham (E. Beckland Road Pit).
<S6>Publication: Wymer, J. J. 1985. Palaeolithic Sites of East Anglia. p 31.
<S7>Unpublished Contractor Report: 1997. The English Rivers Palaeolithic Project. Regions 8 (East Anglian Rivers) and 11 (Trent Drainage). Wessex Archaeology. CR-2, No.8.
<S8>Website: TERPS online database. Site 22483.
<S9>Article in Serial: 1912. Summary of Proceedings. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. Vol I Pt II (for 1910-11 and 1911-12) pp 233-241. p 236.
<S10>Article in Serial: Cox, J. 1920. Implements from the Glacial Deposits of North Norfolk. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. Vol III Pt II (for 1919-20) pp 200-205.
<S11>Article in Serial: 1914. Summary of Proceedings. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. Vol I Pt IV (for 1913-14) pp 485-491. p 486.
<S12>Article in Monograph: Sainty, J. E. 1935. Norfolk Prehistory. Report of the Annual Meeting, 1935. Norwich, September 4-11. British Association for the Advancement of Science. Appendix pp 60-71. pp 63-64.
<S13>Map: Clarke, W.G.. Mss 126.
<S14>Publication: Abercromby, J. 1912. A Study of the Bronze Age Pottery of Great Britain and Ireland and its Associated Grave-Goods. Vol 1. Pl IX; Fig 66.
<S15>Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Neolithic. Gresham.
<S16>Article in Serial: Barnard, G. V. 1941. A Handled Beaker from Norfolk. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. Vol VII p 144.
<S17>Article in Serial: Fox, C. 1925. On Two Beakers of the Early Bronze Age Recently Discovered in South Wales: With a Record of the Distribution of Beaker-pottery in England and Wales. Archaeologia Cambrensis. Vol LXXX pp 1-31. pp 16, 27.
<S18>Article in Serial: Wake, T. 1942. Some Recent Archaeological Discoveries in Norfolk. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXVIII Pt I pp 23-30. p 25.

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