Parish Summary: Fleggburgh

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

Fleggburgh is a large parish, close to Great Yarmouth, and is made up of four amalgamated parishes; Burgh St Margaret, Burgh St Mary, Billockby and Clippesby. Burgh St Margaret is the largest village in the parish, overlooking the Rollesby Broad Complex (NHER 13509), whilst Clippesby and Billockby are small hamlets in the west and south of the parish.

The earliest archaeological finds date to the Neolithic period, two Neolithic axeheads (NHER 8587) were found in 1902, and another axehead (NHER 16765) was found more recently in cleaning out a drainage ditch near Filby Broad (NHER 13509). A Neolithic flint pick (NHER 8588) has also been found. The cropmarks of three ring ditches (NHER 18903, 18904 and 39755) are visible on aerial photographs of Clippesby, and probably represent the remains of Bronze Age round barrows. A scattered Late Bronze Age hoard (NHER 31130) was found in the area by a metal detectorist. The hoard of copper alloy objects included socketed axeheads, knives, and fragments of swords and spears. A fragment of Iron Age pottery (NHER 32024) has been found, as well as a handful of Roman coins (NHER 225603576836084 and 41888), a Roman glass bead (NHER 31370) and a Roman brooch (NHER 31479). No settlement activity from the prehistoric, Iron Age, or Roman periods has yet been identified, although such evidence may be revealed through more detailed fieldwork. During the Roman period the parish was on an island in a large estuary, with a settlement and Roman fort at nearby Caister on Sea. The island was later known as Flegg, and the estuary gradually disappeared.

No Early or Middle Saxon finds have been recovered, although Late Saxon pottery (NHER 31479) has been found in Billockby. Clippesby and Billockby both come from Old Scandinavian; Clippesby means 'farm or village of a man named Klyppr', and Billockby means 'farm or village of a man named Bithil-Aki'. Burgh St Margaret itself comes from the Old English, meaning 'a fortification or stronghold'. The Scandinavian placenames clustered on the island of Flegg probably indicate Danish, or Viking, settlement in the area from the 9th century onwards, although it is not clear whether these Danish settlements were on the site of earlier Saxon settlements. Burgh St Margaret, Clippesby and Billockby are all mentioned in the Domesday Book, when all the settlements are recorded as being fairly small, with a relatively large number of freemen. 

Drawing of the ruins of St Mary's Church, Burgh St Mary.

The ruins of St Mary's Church, Burgh St Mary.

St Peter's Church (NHER 8617) in Clippesby may date back to the Late Saxon period, although the present building dates mainly from the 13th century, with blocked 12th century doorways. St Mary's Church (NHER 8647) dates back to at least the 11th century. St Mary's was united with St Margaret's in 1554, and the church was converted into a barn in about 1600. St Margaret's (NHER 8618), in Burgh St Margaret, dates to the 12th century, with a 14th century west tower. The church was extensively restored in the 1870s. All Saints' Church (NHER 8620) in Billockby dates mainly to the 15th century. The nave of the church is now in ruins, after the roof collapsed during a storm in the 18th century, but the chancel is still used for services, and was restored in the 19th century. Part of the Rollesby Broad complex (NHER 13509) extends into the east of the parish. The Broads are the remains of medieval peat cuttings, which flooded in the late medieval and early post medieval periods, and the Rollesby complex is shown on Saxton's map of Norfolk, published in 1574.

A medieval pottery kiln was discovered in Clippesby in 1961, and medieval coins (NHER 141011852031479 and 35853) and metalwork have been found in the parish, including a horse harness pendant (NHER 23800) and a strap fitting (NHER 33484). The former course of a medieval road (NHER 27652) is visible as a cropmark on aerial photographs, and it may be an earlier course of the nearby Tower Road.

During the medieval and post medieval periods the parish was mainly agricultural, and former medieval and post medieval field boundaries (NHER 27656) are visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs. Clippesby Hall (NHER 8590) was built in the 16th century, but was demolished in 1905, although some walls of the building have survived. The farm buildings date from the 18th century, and include an unusual cartshed. The earliest standing part of Florence Farmhouse (NHER 29005) is a 17th century 'tower block', which is attached to an 18th century block, which probably stands on the site of a medieval timber framed building. Billockby Hall (NHER 33877) dates to the early 17th century, with 18th century alterations. Grange Farm (NHER 33878) has a thatched mid 18th century barn. Clippesby House (NHER 39326) was once a large and grand mansion, built in the 19th century, only a small portion of which survives. The land in the south of the parish was drained in the post medieval period, and Burgh Mill (NHER 8621), built in 1840, still stands in the far southwest of the parish. Another post medieval mill (NHER 8619), shown on Bryant's map of 1826, was demolished in 1940. A Wesleyan Chapel (NHER 14222) was built in Burgh St Margaret in 1841.

During World War Two a pillbox (NHER 22262) was built next to the main road near Burgh St Margaret, whilst two more pillboxes (NHER 39234 and 39238) and a guardhouse (NHER 29237) were built to guard the bridge across the River Bure on the parish boundary with Acle.

Sarah Spooner (NLA), 8 December 2005.


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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