Parish Summary: Newton by Castle Acre

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

Newton by Castle Acre is a small parish close to the town of Castle Acre. The tiny hamlet of Newton straddles the road, and the River Nar runs through the west and north of the parish. Newton comes from the Old English meaning ‘the new farmstead, estate or village’.

The earliest evidence of occupation in the parish is in the form of prehistoric flint flakes (NHER 4062, 14399) and a Neolithic polished flint axehead (NHER 4051). A number of ring ditches (NHER 11705, 11706, 11891, 11892, 19958, 19959, 29507, 36381), probably the remains of Bronze Age barrows, are visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs. The ring ditches are clustered along the valley of the River Nar.

The only evidence of the Iron Age are some coins and a bar fitting (NHER 32935) found during metal detecting. Roman coins (NHER 4052, 32935), brooches (NHER 32935, 33346) and a bracelet (NHER 32935) have also been found. No Iron Age or Roman settlement sites have yet been identified in the parish, although such sites may be revealed through more detailed fieldwork.  

Drawing of a complete Middle to Late Saxon copper alloy strap end from Newton By Castle Acre.

A complete Middle to Late Saxon copper alloy strap end from Newton By Castle Acre. (© NCC and S. White.)

Saxon finds from the parish include an Early Saxon brooch (NHER 32935), a Middle Saxon pin and hooked tag (NHER 32935), a Middle to Late Saxon strap end (NHER 32935) fragments of Late Saxon pottery (NHER 4053) and a Late Saxon stirrup mount (NHER 32935). Newton is recorded in the Domesday Book, when it was held by the King. The holding included a salthouse, two mills and livestock as well as six freemen.

All Saints' Church (NHER 4053) dates back to the 11th century, and has a central square tower dividing the nave and chancel. The church has several original Late Saxon features including a pair of blocked 11th century loop windows with arched carstone lintels, a double splayed window and an original triangular-headed doorway in the tower. Most of the other windows and doors date from the 14th century. In a field close to the church are the earthworks of a medieval manorial site (NHER 14399) that straddles the River Nar. The river now runs along the southern arm of a double moated site, and low rectangular mounds within the moat may be the buried remains of a medieval manor house and other buildings. On the other side of the river are a number of ditched enclosures that were probably part of the manorial complex. The earthworks of a possible medieval moated site (NHER 16873) are visible on aerial photographs close to the parish boundary with Castle Acre. A nearby field is known as Tanner’s Piece, suggesting that the earthwork may have been associated with the local tanning industry. Metal detecting has recovered a medieval seal matrix that belonged to a man named Roger Bollard (NHER 4057) and a lovely example of a tiny medieval brooch, made of silver in the form of a pair of clasping hands (NHER 32935)

Newton Mill (NHER 4067) is an early 19th century red brick watermill. The miller’s house was rebuilt in the 1990s using reclaimed 19th century bricks.

Sarah Spooner (NLA), 21 July 2006.

 

Further Reading

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

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

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

 

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