Parish Summary: Mattishall

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

Mattishall is a large parish in the Breckland district of Norfolk. The parish now includes the village of Mattishall Burgh that used to be a separate parish with its own church and outlying farms such as Clippings Green Farm (NHER 13783) and South Green Farm. The parish name derives from Old English and means ‘nook of land belonging to Matt or Matta’. The Burgh suffix means ‘fortification’. Land in Mattishall is recorded in the Domesday Book as being held by four different landowners. The church and half of a mill are described as part of these land holdings. There are an unusually large number of records for metal detected finds from this parish.

The earliest recorded artefacts from the parish are some Mesolithic worked flints from within a possible prehistoric burnt mound (NHER 3076) and a Mesolithic flint axehead (NHER 7303). Neolithic axeheads (NHER 3071, 3072, 31082 and 36974) have also been discovered. A Neolithic flint laurel-leaf (NHER 7303) is a more unusual find.  Two Beaker period barbed and tanged arrowheads (NHER 13015 and 14008) have also been recovered. Parts of two Bronze Age copper alloy spearheads (NHER 3073 and 35797), a knife (NHER 41006) and an axehead (NHER 25629) have been discovered. Fragments of a Late Bronze Age chisel or gouge (NHER 36628) and awl (NHER 41920) have also been found. Two Iron Age finds are rather fascinating. An Iron Age or Roman miniature silver human skull (NHER 29811) has been pierced for suspension and may have been used as a pendant. A copper alloy fitting (NHER 37662) has been identified as Iron Age but it is unclear what the fitting was used for or attached to.

Stone Road is a long straight road that has often been suggested as having a Roman origin (NHER 3082) although this hasn’t been proved conclusively. The most famous Roman find is the Mattishall coin hoard (NHER 3074). This hoard of 1100 Roman silver coins in a pot was found by shovelling at the side of a driveway to a new bungalow site. The pot had been buried in a shallow pit.  Other coins (NHER 3075 and 13842) and pieces of pot (NHER 25731 and 44067) have been discovered. Metal detected Roman finds include a possible Roman steelyard weight (NHER 39896), a pair of tweezers (NHER 40296) and a silver vessel mount (NHER 36628). Brooches (NHER 40851, 25729, 28114 and 31082), a late Roman buckle (NHER 28114) and a finger ring (NHER 37206) have also been recorded.

Metal detecting has recovered a number of Early Saxon finds from one site that suggest this was probably an Early Saxon inhumation cemetery (NHER 36629). Early Saxon brooches (NHER 28114 and 37473) have been found at other sites and a metal detectorist has discovered an Early Saxon wrist clasp (NHER 36560). An Early to Middle Saxon buckle (NHER 40661) has been recorded. Other Middle Saxon finds include pieces of pot (NHER 22865) and coins (NHER 36629 and 36628). A Middle to Late Saxon prick spur (NHER 37264) has also been discovered. Pieces of Late Saxon pot (NHER 7303, 18422 and 22865), a possible weight or pinhead (NHER 25729), stirrup strap mounts (NHER 33372, 36628 and 35797) and strap ends (NHER 36629 and 40282) have been recorded. 

Earthworks of a medieval moated site in Mattishall

Earthworks of a medieval moated site in Mattishall. (© NCC)

The earthworks of a medieval moated site (NHER 3081) have been surveyed. This is an example of medieval common-edge settlement. Other examples of this type of occupation have been identified (NHER 33882) from aerial photographs. Talbot House and Church Cottage (NHER 33231) may be the only example of a medieval timber framed cottage left in the parish. All Saints’ Church (NHER 7316) was mostly built in the 15th century. The turret was added to the tower in the 17th century and the south porch is Victorian. The church has been heavily restored. The 15th century painted rood screen dado depicts a Creed sequence, where the twelve apostles hold a sequence of scrolls containing the clauses of the Apostles Creed.

Photograph of St Peter's Church, Mattishall.

St Peter's Church, Mattishall. (© NCC)

The north door of St Peter’s Church, Mattishall Burgh (NHER 7317) is the earliest part of this church that mostly dates to the 14th century but may have been remodelled around an earlier building. The tower has an unusual stair turret that is only two storeys high. There is also a rare surviving sanctus bell turret on the nave east gable.

Metal detecting has recovered a large number of medieval finds. These include coins (NHER 7303 and 25629) two of which come from Venice (NHER 29812 and 39896), a lead ceiling mount (NHER 25535), a papal bull or seal (NHER 25536) and a stud in the form of a crowned head (NHER 25729). A medieval purse (NHER 14195) is recorded in the 1830 catalogue of the Norwich Castle Museum as coming from Mattishall. Other metal detected finds include a 14th century cast copper alloy female head from a vessel handle (NHER 29811), a seal matrix that depicts a man’s face (NHER 29812) and a horse harness pendant (NHER 37657) that probably bears the arms of the Warenne family.

Clippings Green Farm (NHER 13783) is a later 16th century timber framed house that was extended in the 17th century in brickwork and again at a later date. The house is located inside a large medieval moat with an adjacent fishpond. Mattishall Hall (NHER 22130) is a late 16th or early 17th century brick house. It was refurbished in the late 18th and early 19th century. To the north of the main block an extension contains four false painted windows. These may be dated to the 18th century in which case they are an example of the effects of window tax on architecture. A railway signal box (NHER 18358) has been moved here from Dereham and is now used as an architect’s office. Scatters of building material and tile (NHER 13015) reveal the site of other buildings. The excavated footings of an 18th century barn (NHER 14008) have also been uncovered.

The United Reform Church (NHER 13780) was originally built around 1830 as a congregational chapel. Quaker House (NHER 14928) used to have a Quaker chapel attached to it. This chapel was built in 1701 on the site of another founded in 1658. The Primitive Methodist Chapel (NHER 42627) was built in 1856. It is now used as a garage.

Mattishall has had at least five different windmills. The post mill on Mill Road was replaced by a tower mill in 1858 (NHER 15269). The tower mill was mostly dismantled in 1890, although a two storey 'stump' was left and could be seen in 1980. The smock mill on Mill Street was replaced by a tower mill in 1862. The tower mill was last used in 1906. The base of the tower with a corrugated iron roof remained in 1980 (NHER 15924). The location of the fifth mill (NHER 15270) is marked on Faden’s map of Norfolk published in 1797 but no structural remains can be seen now.

The most recent archaeological site recorded on the database is a World War Two pillbox (NHER 32445). It was built around 1940.

Megan Dennis (NLA), 19 June 2006.

 

Further Reading

Brown, P. (ed.), 1984. Domesday Book, 33 Norfolk, Part I and Part II (Chichester, Philimore)

Knott, S., 2006, ‘All Saints, Mattishall’ Available:

http://www.norfolkchurches.co.uk/mattishall/mattishall.htm. Accessed: 19 June 2006

Knott, S., 2006. ‘St Peter, Mattishall Burgh’. Available:

http://www.norfolkchurches.co.uk/mattishallburgh/mattishallburgh.htm. Accessed: 19 June 2006

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

Neville, J. 2004. ‘Mattishall Mill Road tower mill’. Available:

http://www.norfolkmills.co.uk/Windmills/mattishall-mill-rd-towermill.html. Accessed: 19 June 2006

Neville, J., 2004. ‘Mattishall Mill St tower mill’. Available:

http://www.norfolkmills.co.uk/Windmills/mattishall-mill-st-towermill.html. Accessed: 19 June 2006

Neville, J., 2004. ‘Mattishall Mill Road post mill’. Available:

http://www.norfolkmills.co.uk/Windmills/mattishall-mill-rd-postmill.html, Accessed: 19 June 2006

Neville, J., 2004. ‘Mattishall Mill St smock mill’ Available:

http://www.norfolkmills.co.uk/Windmills/mattishall-mill-st-smockmill.html, Accessed: 19 June 2006

Rye, J., 2000. A Popular Guide to Norfolk Place-names (Dereham, The Larks Press)

Unknown, unknown. ‘Mattishall village in the heart of Norfolk’ Available:

http://www.mattishall-village.co.uk/. Accessed: 19 June 2006

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