Record Details

NHER Number:1631
Type of record:Monument
Name:Possible site of a Benedictine cell


The probable site of a Benedictine cell belonging to Norwich Cathedral Priory is visible as earthworks and cropmarks on aerial photographs. Cropmarks of four buildings are visible within a rectangular enclosure. These buildings are all rectangular in plan and of a similar size. Areas of possible terraced gardens or additional structures are also visible as cropmarks. Outside of the main enclosure are cropmarks of ditches and a possible fishpond. The enclosure lies in the bottom of a small river valley. The original course of the river, which is visible as cropmarks, appears to have passed directly through the enclosure. The site survived as earthworks until after 1964 but had been ploughed by 1973.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TF 7319 3534
Map Sheet:TF73NW

Full description

Site of Benedictine Cell (Ordnance Survey)

June 1979. Visit.
No trace in ploughed field which has obviously recently been flooded.
E. Rose (NAU), 6 June 1979.

Undated Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food/Agricultural Development Advisory Service aerial photograph (in NAU files as TF7334 ABH).
Shows linear markings in same field, and large rectangle; but these are likely to be drainage and doubtful if connected with cell. Aerial photograph also shows outline of buildings.
See (S1).
E. Rose (NAU), 21 September 1984.

Grid reference as above (not 7313 3542).
R. J. Rickett (NAU), 2 May 1990

19 July 1994. NLA air photography.
Parchmarks of two buildings visible; one is rectangular the other is L shaped. The buildings appear to be situated within a rectangular, possibly walled, enclosure. The interior of this area produces a highly positive cropmark response, suggesting an area of localised cultivation or waterlogging within the walls. Note E. Rose (NAU) comment about flooding above. To the north of the enclosure is an oval positive anomaly, possibly the remains of a pond or pit.
S. Massey (NLA), 1 April 2001.

March 2006. Norfolk NMP.
Earthworks and cropmarks relating to a medieval Benedictine cell are visible on aerial photographs (S2-S13). The central grid reference for these remains has been amended from TF 7313 3531 to TF 7316 3534. The Benedictine cell belonged to the Cathedral Priory of the Holy Trinity at Norwich and was founded in the early 12th century (S15). However, its subsequent history and development is obscure. The site is labelled as ‘Cell Benedictine (Site of)’on the first edition 6 inch to the mile Ordnance Survey map (S16). The earliest aerial photographs available show the site as earthworks within a pasture field (S5-S7). The site survived as earthworks until after 1964 but had been ploughed by 1973. After this date, elements of the site have shown as soilmarks and cropmarks at various times (S2-4, S9-S12).

Cropmarks of four rectangular buildings are present within a rectangular enclosure (S2-S4). The first of the buildings is located at TF 73135 35315 and measures 9.5m by 5m in plan. It lies on a northwest to southeast axis. The second two buildings are adjoining and lie 8m to the northeast of the first building. The largest of these is located at TF 73150 35325 and measures up to 10m by 5.5m in plan. Attached to its southeast corner is a 9.5m by 3.5m building on a northwest to southeast alignment. These two buildings are clearly visible as earthworks on some of the early aerial photographs (S5-S7). The fourth building that is visible as cropmarks is located in an isolated position at TF 73225 35345. This building also lies on a roughly northwest to southeast alignment and measures 10m by 5m.

All four of the buildings are located within a rectangular enclosure. This enclosure measures 159m by at least 97m internally and lies on a northwest to southeast axis along the valley floor. Cropmarks relating to possible walls are visible on three of its sides. The majority of the cropmark and earthwork evidence, including the buildings, is located within the northwestern half of the enclosure. Banks, visible as earthworks and later as cropmarks, are present on a perpendicular alignment to the southwest and northwest walls of the enclosure. These appear to represent walls with rectangular sunken areas in between (S2-S8). The sunken areas present as earthworks later show as strong positive cropmarks when the field had been ploughed (S9-S12). The most clearly defined of these areas measure 14m by 12m, 12m by 6.5m and 14m by 7m internally. It is possible that they could relate to structures built up against the enclosure wall. However, further large areas of positive cropmarks are present immediately to the northeast and it is perhaps more likely that they relate to areas of cultivation, possibly terraced into the natural slope. Cropmarks of pits are also present within this area of the enclosure. Cropmarks of ditches are present in the northern part of the enclosure, probably relating to sub-divisions of the main enclosure. Further ditch cropmarks are also present in the southeast part of the enclosure. These ditches are aligned parallel to and 12.5m inside of the wall of the enclosure. It is clear that they define a separate area around the inside of the enclosure walls, but its function is unknown. Other linear ditches are present between this ditch and the wall on the southeast side of the enclosure.

The monastic enclosure lies in the bottom of the valley of the Heacham River. The present route of the watercourse along a straight drain to the northeast of the enclosure dates to after the Fring tithe map of 1838 (S14) when it followed a curved course through the valley bottom. Its original course is visible as cropmarks (S2-S4), but has not been mapped. It extended from TF 7310 3547 to TF 7343 3518, passing through the enclosure between TF 7315 3540 and TF 7325 3528. This original course of the river is also shown as areas of flooding in the field on some aerial photographs (S13). An elongated sub-oval positive cropmark is present to the northeast of the enclosure at TF 7310 3539 (S2-4, S9-S12). This relates to a pond that is shown on the tithe map as being linked to the river and which probably related to the monastic cell. It is possible that it was a fishpond. Linear ditch cropmarks are present to the northeast of the pond. Some of these lie on a similar alignment to the enclosure and probably define fields of enclosures associated with the cell. An earthwork and cropmark of a linear bank or wall appears to continue the line of the southwest side of the enclosure to its southeast. However, it is possibly that this is connected to other earthworks and cropmarks of Fring village and is recorded as part of NHER 43438.
J. Albone (NMP), 27 March 2006

Monument Types

  • DITCH (Unknown date)
  • BENEDICTINE CELL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BUILDING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CELL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • DITCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ENCLOSURE? (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FISHPOND? (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • GARDEN? (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PIT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POND (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PRECINCT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • RECTANGULAR ENCLOSURE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WALL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status


Sources and further reading

---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Fring.
<S1>Map: 1984. Cropmark Map Overlays.. TF73NW.
<S2>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1976. NHER TF 7335A (NLA 26/AEQ11) 24-JUN-1976.
<S3>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1976. NHER TF 7335D-F (NLA 26/AEQ5, AEQ9-10) 24-JUN-1976.
<S4>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. SMR TF 7335AB-AC (NLA 374/JAW7-8) 19-JUL-1996.
<S5>Oblique Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. 1964. TF 7335B-C (CUCAP AIQ89-90) 27-APR-1964.
<S6>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1958. RAF 543/392 (F22) 234-5 17-SEP-1958 (NMR).
<S7>Vertical Aerial Photograph: MAFF. NHER TF 7334ABH (MAFF/-).
<S8>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1973. OS/73013 114-5 07-MAR-1973 (NMR).
<S9>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1978. NHER TF 7335N-P (NLA 69/AMG17-8) 21-SEP-1978.
<S10>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1989. NHER TF 7335U-T (NLA 227/DKH4-5) 26-JUN-1989.
<S11>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1989. NHER TF 7335V-Z (NLA 234/DLY11-5) 05-JUL-1989.
<S12>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1989. NHER TF 7335AA (NLA 234/DLZ1) 05-JUL-1989.
<S13>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (AAF). 1977. NHER TF 7335Q-R (AAF 112/14-5) 06-MAY-1977.
<S14>Map: ?. 1838. Fring Tithe Map.
<S15>Serial: Blomefield, F.. 1809. An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk.. Vol X. 375. p 303.

Related records - none

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