Parish Summary: Broome

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 heritage@norfolk.gov.uk

Broome is a located in South Norfolk and is situated on the Norfolk/Suffolk border just to the north of Bungay. It is an irregularly shaped parish but is roughly a long and narrow strip leading from the River Waveney northwards. The River Waveney forms the southeastern parish boundary and part of the eastern and western boundaries follow Broome Beck. Between the two boundaries Broome Beck passes east to west through the parish; it is a tributary of the Waveney, which it meets in the southeast of the parish.

Low lying marshes occupy the part of the parish along the River Waveney. To the north of the marshes and to the south of Broome Beck, is a narrow strip of low land on which Broome Heath and the modern Broome village sit. To the north of Broome Beck the land slopes gently upwards to the north. In this area are Broome Place, St Michael’s Church and a number of farms. 

Palaeolithic flint artefacts have been in at least three places in Broome, all of which are located in vicinity of Broome Heath. No artefacts that are definitely of Mesolithic date have been recorded.  

Photograph of Neolithic long barrow on Broome Heath looking north. Note the figure standing beside the barrow for scale.

Neolithic long barrow on Broome Heath looking north. Note the figure standing beside the barrow for scale.  (©NCC)

Excavations in 2001 revealed an early Neolithic oval enclosure (NHER 36289), possibly a long barrow or a mortuary enclosure, on the low strip of land between the River Waveney and Broome Beck. Pits containing early Neolithic pottery may have been associated. To the southwest of the oval enclosure, a Neolithic long barrow (NHER 10597) survives on Broome Heath. Excavations during the 19th century, possibly within the long barrow, revealed a human burial. A possible prehistoric burnt mound and two Later Neolithic or Early Bronze Age pits were found close to the oval enclosure during the 2001 excavations.

Bronze Age round barrows survive on Broome Heath, one of which is on the Broome / Ditchingham parish boundary (NHER 10624). Another three or four have been lost to agriculture, and to gravel quarrying since the mid 19th century. Bronze Age pottery and flint artefacts have been found close by. In the centre of the parish at least fifteen ring ditches, possibly Bronze Age barrows, have been identified on aerial photographs by the Norfolk National Mapping Programme (NHER 44844). This was the largest of sixteen barrow cemeteries in the Broads recorded by the NMP Broads Zone Project in 2006/7.  A Bronze Age copper alloy axehead has been found in the marshes near Wainford Bridge and a barbed and tanged arrowhead has been found on Broome Heath.

Two Iron Age Iceni coins have been found in the parish. An Iron Age linch pin and a Late Iron Age or Roman brooch have also been recovered. Roman artefacts, including coins, finger rings and brooches, have been discovered at many locations. A Roman field system (NHER 36289) has been excavated in the southeast of the parish. Ditches found during a watching brief ahead of the construction of the A143 Broome bypass (NHER 35938) may have been part of this.

There was a Roman settlement and a cemetery (NHER 10684) in the south of the parish. A Roman road (NHER 10636) probably passed through the settlement and may have crossed the River Waveney close to where the modern Wainford Bridge stands. It is thought that the road continued north toward modern Hedenham and south into Suffolk.

During the 19th century two possible Early Saxon cremation urns (NHER 10628) were found at an unknown site on Broome Heath. To the east, on the low ridge between Broome Beack and the River Waveney was an Early Saxon settlement (NHER 36289). Excavations in 2001 discovered at least seven post hole buildings, a grubenhaus (sunken featured building), pottery, a knife blade and animal bones. The lack of Middle Saxon pottery at the settlement suggests that it fell out of use in the early 7th century. An Early Saxon brooch has been found in the northeast of the parish.

Only one Middle Saxon artefact, a buckle, has been found in the parish. Late Saxon metalwork has been found at four or five sites. As all of these are located close to St Michael’s church (NHER 10646), it is possible that there was a Late Saxon (and Middle?) settlement focused on the church. It has been suggested that many Early Saxon settlements were abandoned in the 7th century in favour of different locations and this seems to have been the case at Broome. The modern village of Broome may also have been founded at this time. It is interesting to note that the sites with medieval artefacts are also concentrated around the church and in an area to the south of the modern village. However, how far this is a true reflection of the settlement pattern or whether it is more indicative of metal detector activity is not clear.

Broome appears in the Domesday Book as ‘Brom’. This is an Old English placename meaning the ‘place where broom is abundant’. In 1086 Broome was held by Roger Bigot, The Abbot of Bury St Edmunds and Robert son of Corbucion. Frodo and Humphrey are named, and ploughs, meadows, oxen, woodland, pigs, a mill, half a fishery, cattle, sheep and beehives are recorded.

St Michael’s Church (NHER 10646) now stands in an isolated position amongst fields. It is a medieval church, with a 13th and 14th century chancel and a 15th century tower and nave. A medieval chapel dedicated to St Botolph (NHER 14911) is recorded in the parish, but its exact location is uncertain and it was in ruins by 1558.

To the northwest of the church is a possible moat, a group of enclosures and possible ridge and furrow earthworks. Field systems, of medieval and post medieval date, have been excavated in the southeast of the parish. The site of a medieval post mill and the site of a possible medieval windmill have been identified on aerial photographs.

To the north of the church is the site of Broome Hall (NHER 10639). It was built in about 1600, rebuilt during the 17th century and demolished in 1825. Broome Place (NHER 10642), built in about 1700 and surrounded by a landscape park, is located to the south of the church. Other post medieval buildings in the parish include Broome House, Broome Cottage and The Tuns.

David Robertson (NLA), 21st September 2005.

David Gurney (NLA), 28 March 2008.

 

Further Reading

Brown, P. (ed.), 1984. Domesday Book: Norfolk (Chichester, Phillimore)

Knott, S., 2005. 'St Michael, Broome'. Available:

http://www.norfolkchurches.co.uk/broome/broome.htm. Accessed 21 September 2005

Mills, A.D., 1998. Dictionary of English Place-Names (Oxford, Oxford University Press)

Robertson, D.A., 2003. ‘A Neolithic Enclosure and Early Saxon Settlement: Excavations at Yarmouth Road, Broome, 2001,’ Norfolk Archaeology XLIV, Part II, 222-250

Rye, J., 1991. A Popular Guide to Norfolk Place-names (Dereham, Larks Press)

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