Parish Summary: Tattersett

This Parish Summary is an overview of the large amount of information held for the parish, and only selected examples of sites and finds in each period are given. It has been beyond the scope of the project to carry out detailed research into the historical background, documents, maps or other sources, but we hope that the Parish Summaries will encourage users to refer to the detailed records, and to consult the bibliographical sources referred to below. Feedback and any corrections are welcomed by email to

The parish of Tatersett is situated in the northwest of Norfolk. It lies west of Dunton, south of Syderstone, north of Helhoughton and east of East Rudham. The name Tattersett may derive from the Old English meaning ‘Tathere’s place for animals’. The parish has a long history and was well established by the time of the Norman Conquest. Its population, land ownership and productive resources were detailed in the Domesday Book of 1086. This document revealed that the parish possessed two mills and two churches and that after the Conquest the lands were under the jurisdiction of William of Warenne. The modern civil parish of Tattersett includes the villages of Tatterford, Broomsthorpe and Tattersett itself.

Some of the earliest sites to be identified in the parish are scatters of prehistoric pot boilers (NHER 35082 and 2347). These sites show that individuals were heating water probably for domestic purposes at these locations. However, the majority of the prehistoric sites date to the Bronze Age and have been identified through cropmarks visible on aerial photographs. Several ring ditches have been reported in this manner (NHER 30286 and 30858), but a possible bowl barrow (NHER 1987), known as ‘Wicken Covert’, was identified at ground level from earthwork remnants. Further unidentified cropmark features (NHER 35941 and 36143) may also relate to this era, but a lack of contemporary finds on these sites makes it hard to be certain.  

Drawing of an Iron Age linch pin from Tattersett.

Part of an Iron Age linch pin from Tattersett. (© NCC and S. White.) 

Several prehistoric artefacts have also been recovered from Tattersett. A couple of Neolithic stone axeheads (NHER 2348 and 3635) and a tool assemblage (NHER 16953) have been reported. A more unusual find comprises a laurel-leaf flint (NHER 31825), although the exact purposes of such items are not known. The Bronze Age tools (NHER 1986 and 31293) that have been found date to the early part of the period and as such are made from flint rather than copper alloy. Relatively few Iron Age finds have been recorded, with those that have taking the form of two silver coins (NHER 31294 and 31589), a bow brooch (NHER 31825) and part of a linch pin (NHER 30286).

A possible Roman settlement (NHER 30286) has been identified northeast of Coxford. Extensive metal detecting here during 1992-97 recovered numerous Roman coins and brooches along with a pin, stylus, bracelet, several rings and other metalwork. The nature and quantity of these finds suggested some sort of Roman occupation on site.

A Roman military presence is also possible, as a number of military objects such as dress fittings (NHER 31569) and a strap end (NHER 32603) have been discovered elsewhere. Additionally, at one of these sites (NHER 31569) a number of rectilinear enclosures have been noted, and these may relate to some sort of Roman structures or encampment. Other Roman objects found in Tattersett comprise coins (e.g. NHER 20987 and 28089), a nail (NHER 31089), an ovoid ring (NHER 31589), a stud (NHER 32604), a nail cleaner (NHER 31589) and assorted pottery sherds (e.g. NHER 3636). This artefactual evidence certainly seems to suggest the parish was thriving during the Roman period.

The only Saxon site recorded for Tattersett is a possible Early Saxon inhumation cemetery, which has been identified from the concentration of brooches and dress fittings (NHER 32605). In contrast, there are rather more Saxon artefacts of interest, including several very finely crafted pieces. Foremost of these are a Late Saxon box mount in the Ringerike style (NHER 31295) and an Early/Middle Saxon hanging bowl escutcheon (NHER 32606).

Fortunately, the corpus of more mundane Saxon finds represents the period in its entirety. Metal detecting has recovered an Early Saxon buckle mount (NHER 32604) and girdle hanger (NHER 31589), a Middle Saxon pin (NHER 31589) and sceat (NHER 31825) and a Late Saxon disc brooch (NHER 31477) and tag (NHER 31294). It should be noted that this comprehensive assemblage of artefacts contains fairly typical everyday items that are characteristic of Saxon domestic activities.

The earliest still standing building or monument in Tattersett is All Saints’ Church (NHER 2375). This church is basically of Norman date, as typified by the south door which dates to around 1200. At some point the tower became ruinous, but it was restored in the 18th century. Further alterations were conducted in the 19th and 20th centuries. However, this is not the only church that existed during the medieval period, as a church dedicated to St Andrew also served the parish. It was owned by Castle Acre Priory, along with All Saints’ Church and when the Priory was dissolved the smaller church, which had become the church of Sengham hamlet, was abandoned. In 1843 ruins of the church were still visible, but little now remains. It has been suggested that the church at Sengham was the same as the one at Broomsthorpe (NHER 2373), as this church is also believed to have been located near to here.

A deserted medieval village site has been identified to the northeast of modern Broomsthorpe village and to the southeast of modern Tattersett village. Aerial photographs show a set of impressive earthworks in the form of hollow ways, building platforms and house foundations. The identity of this deserted medieval settlement is uncertain, with suggestions that it is Broomsthorpe/Sengham (these two villages may be one and the same) or Tattersett St Andrew. The church here was supposedly dedicated to St John the Evangelist, but the former St Andrew’s Church (site at NHER 13256) may be in some way related to this settlement due to its geographic proximity. Ordnance Survey records also suggest that a settlement called Wicken existed in the parish during the medieval era, although there is no further information to trace or locate where this village may have stood.

A couple of medieval manorial sites have also been noted in Tattersett. Both of these sites exist as moated enclosures (NHER 22443 and 17446), and these moats are a characteristic remnant left by medieval halls. However, further research would be needed to establish the true nature of these earthworks/cropmarks.

A fairly typical selection of metal medieval objects has been recovered from Tattersett. Seal matrices (NHER 31589 and 32603), buckles (e.g. NHER 31570), a knife (NHER 34358), a spur (NHER 31255) and part of a cauldron (NHER 31089) number amongst the collection that has been retrieved. A couple of more pleasing finds have also been discovered, and comprise an unusual heart-shaped medieval buckle and blue-enamelled harness mount (both NHER 32607), memorial brass (NHER 32890) and a fine lead pilgrim’s badge (NHER 31295). The presence of the last find, along with two other lead ampullae (NHER 31293 and 32606), is perhaps unsurprising given the affiliations of the local churches with Castle Acre Priory. 

The post medieval period saw the rebuilding of St Margaret’s Church in Tatterford (NHER 2376). The present building was erected in 1862 to replace the old church which had a combined chancel and nave. Inside, it has several objects from the old church including an 18th century memorial and the chalice and paten.

Pinkney (or Pykney) Hall (NHER 2381) is also a post medieval survival. The Hall here was originally founded in 1587, but the present building is a country house of 17th century date with a mid Georgian north front and 'Queen Anne Style' south front. Inside, there are several 17th century panelled rooms. Remnants of a medieval moat survive outside the hall to the southeast, but the landscaping of the gardens makes it hard to interpret the original moat.

Numbers 1-3 (NHER 47537) on the Street in Tattersett have also been listed as buildings of architectural interest. This row of cottages is of two builds, with 1 and 2 dating to 1693 and 3 to 1713. Together they have two ridge and one south gable-end chimneystacks.

For a sense of completeness it is worth mentioning that metal detecting has also discovered a number of post medieval objects. Merit worthy pieces include a coin weight from the reign of James I (NHER 31295), a sword belt mount (NHER 32890) and an elaborate openwork stud (NHER 31089). Other finds tend to be either pottery sherds (e.g. NHER 30760) or coins (e.g. NHER 31589).

The most recent site recorded in Tattersett is Sculthorpe airfield (NHER 2007). The airfield was built in 1942, and was used by the Free French Air Force during World War Two, as well as the Royal New Zealand and Australian Air Forces, and the United States Army Air Force. After the war, the airfield became one of the biggest American airfields in the country, until the base was closed in 1992.

Thomas Sunley (NLA) 18 July 2007.


Further Reading

Brown, P. (ed.), 1984. The Domesday Book (Chichester, Phillimore & Co.)

Mortlock, D. P. and Roberts, C. V., 1985. The Popular Guide to Norfolk Churches: No.3 West and South-West Norfolk (Cambridge: Acorn Editions)

Pevsner, N. and Wilson, B. 1999. The Buildings of England, Norfolk 2: North-West and South (London, Penguin)

Rye, J., 1991. A Popular Guide to Norfolk Place Names (Dereham: The Larks Press)





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