This Parish Summary is very much an overview of the 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
The tiny parish of Sisland is situated in southeast Norfolk, just north of Mundham and Loddon. The name Sisland comes from the Old English for ‘Sige’s newly cultivated land’, and there was certainly an established settlement here by the time of the Norman Conquest, as its population, land ownership and productive resources are detailed in the Domesday Book of 1086.
The earliest evidence of human activity in the parish comes in the form of prehistoric but otherwise undateable worked flints (NHER 39970) and flakes (NHER 21876 and 39971). The first dateable finds are some Neolithic or Bronze Age flints (NHER 21873) and a Bronze Age stone axe hammer (NHER 10531). Iron Age finds to date consist of pottery fragments (NHER 23286, 10464 and 39970) and a possible harness fragment (NHER 21871).
Roman finds are a little more numerous, and include pottery fragments (NHER 21879 and 23286), coins (NHER 21871, 23286 and 28289), a brooch (NHER 21871) and an unusual strap end (NHER 21871). Saxon finds currently recorded are pottery fragments (NHER 21871, 10464 and 39970), and a box mount (NHER 25855), though this may be medieval. The foundations of St Mary’s Church (NHER 10464) were dug through a Late Saxon grave, probably indicating the presence of a pre-Conquest church.
St Mary's Church, Sisland. Photograph from www.norfolkchurches.co.uk (© S. Knott.)
St Mary’s Church, is an engaging thatched brick church, whitewashed except for where the windows and doors are neatly picked out in red brick. It consists of a nave and chancel in one, with a pretty weatherboarded bell turret perched on the west end, topped by a spirelet and weather cock. Most of what you see dates to 1761, when the medieval church was mostly destroyed by lightning and rebuilt in Gothick style, but the old north wall was re-used and the remains of the north transept chapel left as a buttress. Inside is a west gallery on iron rods and interesting 18th century window glass. The sole interior survivor of the earlier church is the 15th century carved octagonal font.
Other medieval structures have not survived. In the northwest of the parish are the earthworks of the medieval village of Washingford (NHER 10457), including a possible hollow way and house platforms. The area is now pasture land.
Medieval objects recovered include pottery fragments (NHER 21871, 21873 and 21876), coins (NHER 21871 and 45417), tiles (NHER 21873 and 39970) and buckles (NHER 21871). A survey in 1981 north of St Mary’s church noted medieval and post medieval pottery fragments, medieval bricks and post medieval debris, possibly indicating the former presence of a building (NHER 21870).
Post medieval finds include pottery fragments (NHER 21871, 21876 and 23286), jettons (NHER 21871) and coins (NHER 21871 and 45417).
In the south of the parish, White House (NHER 20955) is an Elizabethan timber framed building, altered in the 18th century and then much altered in the 20th century.
North of Poplar Farm is the site of an 18th century water mill (NHER 16310) that stood across the parish boundary on the old course of the stream.
P. Aldridge (NLA), 25 May 2007.
Rye, J., 1991. A Popular Guide to Norfolk Place Names (Dereham, The Larks Press)
Brown, P. (Ed.) Domesday Book; Norfolk (Chichester, Phillimore & Co)
Pevsner, N. & Wilson, B., 1997. The Buildings of England: Norfolk 2: North-west and South (London, Penguin Books)
Knott, S., 2005. ‘The Norfolk Churches Website’. Available:
http://www.norfolkchurches.co.uk/sisland/sisland.htm. Accessed 11 May 2007