Record Details

NHER Number:1092
Type of record:Monument
Name:Late Saxon defensive ditch and settlement and post medieval features, St Barnabas' Hospital, Bury Road

Summary

Excavation of two test holes in 1957, one adjacent to Bury Road and the other adjacent to St Barnabas' Close, revealed no archaeological finds or features. However, excavations in 1977 between the site of St Barnabas’ hospital (NHER 51822) and the isolation hospital recorded two parallel east west ditches dated to the 10th century and believed to be the southern portion of the Late Saxon defensive ditch. These ditches appear to have gone out of use and were in-filled by the 11th century, when the area was used for industrial activities including iron, bone, and horn working. Several ditches and pits dating to this period were recorded during the excavations, and finds include a styca of Ethelred of Northumbria dated to the late 820's AD and a bone flute. A single inhumation located to the south of the defensive ditch was found to pre-date the 11th century industrial activity. This burial remains undated but may be contemporary with the defensive ditch. The area appears to have been abandoned by the medieval period, and medieval cultural material was restricted to a small quantity of residual pottery and a late 14th century Walsingham lead pilgrim badge from later features. Several 19th century garden features associated with the Thetford Union Workhouse were also recorded during the 1977 excavations. For descriptions of these features, see NHER 51822. Following redevelopment of the area, a 17th century weight marked with the stamp of George IV was found in a garden.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TL 8698 8222
Map Sheet:TL88SE
Parish:THETFORD, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

THE SITE OF THE THETFORD UNION WORKHOUSE AND ST BARNABAS' HOSPITAL, PREVIOUSLY RECORDED UNDER THIS NUMBER, IS NOW RECORDED UNDER NHER 51822.

1948-1957. Casual Find.
A bronze pin with a domed head and expanded shank was recovered from the ground surface.
See (S1, p 69 no 47 fig 112) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 22 August 2008.

April to May 1957. Evaluation. G. Knocker.
29 test trenches were excavated in southeast Thetford in order to assess the extent of Late Saxon occupation and locate a former ford in the area of Nuns' Bridges. Two of these were located near St Barnabas' Hospital (NHER 51822). Test Pit NB17 was located at the northeast corner, adjacent to Bury Road. No finds or features were recorded in this trench. Test Pit NB29 was located at the exteme south of the site and also yielded no archaeological finds or features.
See (S1, p 54) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 26 August 2008.

1977. Geophysical Survey (Ancient Monuments Lab)
A resistivity and magnetic survey was conducted in the eastern part of the walled area of St Barnabas' Hospital (NHER 51822) prior to excavation. No anomalies related to the Saxon town defenses were recorded.
See (S1) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 26 August 2008.

July to August 1977. Excavation.
Four trenches were excavated between the site of St Barnabas’ hospital (NHER 51822) and the isolation hospital in order to determine whether the Saxon town defences passed through this area.
The earliest feature recorded was a small ditch in Trench 1, located towards the north of the excavated area. This ditch contained no finds but was stratigraphically earlier than the Late Saxon period features.
Two parallel east-west ditches believed to be the Late Saxon defensive ditch were located in the extreme north of the site, within Trenches 1 and 3. The northern ditch was approximately 7.7m wide and 1.95m deep while the southern ditch was only about 3.4m wide and 1.5m deep. A bank may have been constructed on the northern edge of the northern ditch, but this was only seen in section in Trench 3 and this evidence was very slight. Four east-west aligned post holes just north of the northern ditch may also have been associated with the defences. Very few finds were recovered from the lowest fills of both ditches. Deposits in the northern ditch indicate that it was periodically waterlogged while it was open and contained only a few leather fragments, a bone skate, and occasional human and animal bone. However, the uppermost ditch fills contained large quantities of Late Saxon cultural material.
Between the two defensive ditches was a series of east-west linear features or slots containing Late Saxon and early medieval pottery. On the northern edge of one of the linear features was a small undated pit containing a tightly packed selection of human bones.
Both defensive ditches were cut by several small ditches, pits, and post holes. In the northwest of the excavated area the northern defensive ditch was also overlain by a layer containing large quantities of bone working residue and bone comb fragments. This material has been dated to the 11th century and a variety of industrial activities are represented including iron, bone, and horn working. Other finds from this area include a dog skeleton recovered from the lower fill of a northeast-southwest ditch and a bone flute.
To the south of the defensive ditches were several Late Saxon pits and post holes, one of which produced a styca of Ethelred of Northumbria dated to the late 820's AD, as well as a stratigraphically earlier inhumation. This was an extended inhumation of a male, orientated with head to the west, within a vertically-sided grave-pit which remains undated. A fragment of a child's skull and twelve vertebrae were recovered from the grave fill. Progressively fewer features were encountered towards the south of the site. Trench 2 contained only a single pit yielding Late Saxon and medieval pottery, and two post medieval pits were recorded in Trench 4.
Two sets of post medieval features observed in Trench 1 have been interpreted as likely garden features related to the Thetford Union Workhouse (NHER 51822). These consist of parallel north-south flat-based trenches designed to be freely draining and north-south rows of rectangular pits which appear to have contained organic material. These features contained 19th century pottery and brick as well as a late 14th century Walsingham lead pilgrim badge and a Late Saxon bone comb tooth fragment. The garden features were cut by a post medieval pit and a brick sump associated with St. Barnabas’ Chapel (NHER 51822).
Residual Prehistoric worked flint and a Neolithic flint arrowhead were also recovered.
See (S1, Pp 55-59), and (S2-S5) for further details. See (S7) for short summary.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 7 October 2008.

1988. Casual Find.
A 17th century weight marked with the stamp of George IV was recovered from a garden in St Barnabas Close.
See (S6) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 22 August 2008.

Monument Types

  • INHUMATION (Unknown date)
  • INHUMATION (Middle Saxon to Late Saxon - 651 AD? to 999 AD?)
  • DITCH (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • FLOOR (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • LINEAR FEATURE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • PIT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • POST HOLE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • SETTLEMENT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • TOWN DEFENCES (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • BONE WORKING SITE (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)
  • METAL WORKING SITE (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1099 AD)

Associated Finds

  • PIN (Undated)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • ARROWHEAD (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • COIN (Middle Saxon - 820 AD to 850 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • BONE WORKING DEBRIS (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • COIN (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • COMB (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • FLUTE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • ICE SKATE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • METAL WORKING DEBRIS (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • POT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • SHOE? (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • WORKED OBJECT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PILGRIM BADGE (Medieval - 1350 AD to 1399 AD)
  • WEIGHT (Post Medieval - 1600 AD to 1699 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Photograph: XV1 to XX111.
---Aerial Photograph: TL8682D-E.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Post-Medieval. Holme Next the Sea.
<S1>Monograph: Rogerson, A. and Dallas, C. 1984. Excavations in Thetford 1948-59 and 1973-80. East Anglian Archaeology. No 22. Pp 54-9, 69 (no 47, fig 112).
<S2>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 10 Sept 1975.
<S3>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 12 Sept 1977.
<S4>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 19 Sept 1977.
<S5>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 26 Sept 1977.
<S6>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1988. Walter's old but very weighty find IN Eastern Daily Press. 29 August 1988. 29 August.
<S7>Article in serial: Webster, L. E. and Cherry, J. 1978. Medieval Britain in 1977. Medieval Archaeology. Vol XXII pp 142-188. p149.

Related records - none

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