Parish Summary: East Beckham

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

The small parish of East Beckham is situated in north east Norfolk, just south of the coastal parish of Weybourne. The name Beckham comes from the Old English for ‘Becca’s enclosure’. It was an established settlement by the time of the Norman Conquest, and its land ownership, population and productive resources are set out in several entries in the Domesday Book of 1086.

For a parish with a long history, the archaeological record is surprisingly sparse, but this may be due to a lack of detailed investigation, and the record may well fill out in the future. 

Drawing of a Bronze Age copper alloy spearhead that was found in a stream in East Beckham in 1963. Part of the wooden shaft had also survived.

Bronze Age copper alloy spearhead that was found in a stream in East Beckham in 1963. (© NCC)

The earliest evidence of human activity comes in the form of flint tools. A Palaeolithic flint axe (NHER 6390) was the oldest of these, followed by a Mesolithic burin, or engraving tool (NHER 6577). Three Neolithic axeheads have also been found (NHER 6578), and part of a polished axehead (NHER 40060). The record then goes quiet, with a single Bronze Age copper alloy spearhead (NHER 6579), which still had part of its wooden shaft when discovered. There are no Iron Age finds, and the Roman occupation has yielded just two coins (NHER 36590). Similarly, there is no evidence of Saxon activity.

The medieval period usually would leave the oldest surviving building in a parish, and East Beckham did have a parish church, that of St Helen (NHER 6631). This 14th century building once consisted of a square west tower, nave chancel and a south porch. It was in ruins by 1602, and the ruins were demolished in 1890, some of the stone being used to build the church at West Beckham. One or two fragments of wall remain, but the site has been wired off, and is reputedly covered in ferocious brambles. There are a few other traces of medieval settlement, including the site of a possible building (NHER 6403), an earth bank (NHER 29594) and two hollow ways (medieval sunken roads). One is visible on the ground (NHER 24267), the other only from aerial photographs (NHER 35166). The only individual medieval find on record is a horse harness pendant (NHER 36590).

Two buildings survive from the post medieval period. Hall Farmhouse (NHER 31962) is a 17th century house, remodelled in the 18th century, of knapped flint and brick. The windows on the façade are irregularly placed, and some have been blocked. Abbey Farm (NHER 12334) originally dates to about 1700, and is of chequered brick. A modern wing connects the main house to a small converted barn or stable, also of chequered brick and about the same age.

P. Aldridge (NLA), 1 December 2005.

 

Further Reading

Brown, P. (ed.), 1984. The Domesday Book, 33 Norfolk (Chichester, Phillimore & Co.)

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

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