Record Details

NHER Number:17269
Type of record:Monument
Name:Roman and Early Saxon settlement

Summary

An area of Roman and Early Saxon settlement, with the remains of domestic and agricultural buildings, including sunken featured buildings or grubenhauser, pits and other features, as well as a Roman cemetery, dating to the 4th century which contained an unusually high number of decapitated burials.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TL 8777 8245
Map Sheet:TL88SE
Parish:BRETTENHAM, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

1981. Context 1 at [1].
Southwest of site of Thetford Bridge station.
Found with metal detecting.
Antoninianus of Valerian, PROVIDENTIA AVGG, 253 to 60AD. Local copy? RIC V pt.1 112.
Antoninianus of Carausius, PROVIDEN AVG 287 to 93AD, RIC 377.
Antoninianus of Carausius in name of Diocletian, PAX AVGGG 287 to 93AD.
Follis. Constantine I, PRINCIPI IVVENTVTIS 307 to 8AD, RIC VI 781.
Identified A. Gregory (NAU) 14 February 1981.
S. Margeson (NCM) February 1981.

1981.
Further finds of large numbers of Roman coins.
Early Saxon cruciform brooch, (S10).
Roman head, etc.
See list in file.
Medieval token.
A. Gregory (NAU) July 1981.

October 1993. Fieldwalking Survey and Trial Trenching.
Evaluation over whole field by Oxford Archaeological Unit.
Produced Roman pits, ditches and post holes with sherds and tile; possible evidence of Early Saxon sunken featured buildings, and possible Roman building, with at least one heated room.
Much post medieval material possibly related to 20th century military use.
See report (S1) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S11).
E. Rose (NLA) 29 October 1993.

April-May 1994. Excavation
Excavation of one area by Oxford Archaeological Unit, and also two areas where preservation in situ is the preferred option.
Roman occupation with several ditches enclosures, and traces of timber buildings, dating from the 1st to the 4th centuries. The buildings seem to be agricultural, rather than domestic, although it is likely that a substantial Roman dwelling may be nearby.
Roman cemetery, dating from the 4th century, with 26 burials, including bodies which had been decapitated.
The main focus of Roman occupation lay in the area which was not excavated.
Early Saxon occupation begins in the 5th century, and sunken featured buildings, or grubenhaus, were excavated, along with pits, ovens and hollows.
See published report (S2) and assessment report (S3) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S12).
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 16 March 2015.

April 1995 or before.
Metal detecting on spoil heap on building site.
Terminal of Early Saxon girdlehanger, punched annulets down centre of stem and double engraved lines along edges. 2 pairs of transverse engraved lines on base above and below 2 rows of punched half annulets. Finely engraved pairs of lines on reverse, along base and down each edge of stem. Some recent damage. Break in stem not ancient. Location plan in file.
A. Rogerson (NLA) 2 May 1995.

December 1996. Geophysical Survey.
Magmetometry survey of potential development land around White Barn Bungalow at the north end of the site.
Modern features obscured any archaeological remains.
See report (S4) for further details. The results of this survey are also summarised in (S13).
D. Gurney (NLA) 6 February 1997.

1996. Metal detecting.
Find at [2] (White Barn Bungalow).
4 Roman coins.
See list in file.
V. Fryer (NCM) 23 June 1997.

February 1997. Trial Trenching.
Excavation of evaluation trenches at White Barn Bungalow revealed only non-archaeological features. Finds were limited to 1 medieval pottery sherd and post-medieval debris.
See report (S5) for further details.
E. Rose (NLA) 18 February 1997.

2 June 1997. Trial Trench.
Evaluation excavation at Railway Cottages.
Trench 50m long, aligned northeast to southwest in southeast corner of housing development.
No archaeologically significant features found or artefacts collected.
2 prehistoric flint flakes seen on adjacent plot.
See report (S6) for further details.
A. Crowson (NAU) 3 June 1997.

October 2000. Watching Brief. Contexts 5000 - 5024.
Monitoring of groundworks for sewer pipe to the south of Aleutia Gardens.
Further linears, pits and a posthole was recorded, probably all of Roman date.
See report (S7) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S9).
D. Gurney (NLA), 21 December 2000.

Probably 2006. Metal detecting.
Roman pottery from 'the Arlington Road Estate' see report by J. Plouviez in file. Recorded in Suffolk.
E. Darch (NLA), 23 January 2007.

April-May 2009. Excavation. Contexts from 6000.
An excavation was undertaken prior to development for residential use on land adjoining Melford Meadows excavated by Oxford Archaeology in 1993-4. In the north of the site was an infilled hollow or palaeochannel, possibly an older channel of the River Thet. A large hollow in the centre of the site had protected deposits from later ploughing, and several hundred flints of late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age date were recovered.
Multiple ditches relating to a stock control area of Roman data (2nd century AD) were discovered. A possible timber strcuture was excavated, with quernstones used for post-packing. The relationship between these features and a midden area rich in finds is uncertain. Ploughmarks containing 2nd century pottery were sealed by Saxon deposits, suggesting Roman ploughing.
A series of small stock enclosures of 3rd/4th century date were excavated to the north of the site. Ditches appeared to parcel the landscape towards the river to the northwest. Six timber structures discovered are poorly dated, but one had chalk floor surfaces truncated by 4th century pits.
A clay-lined domestic oven was dated to the later 4th century or Early Saxon period. Seven pits showed signs of burning. Two features reminiscent of sunken feature buildings were discovered and other features contained Saxon pottery.
See published report (S8) and assessment report (S14) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S15).
The associated archive has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2009.277).
D. Holburn (HES), 13 September 2011. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 5 May 2019.

Monument Types

  • CEMETERY (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • DITCH (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • INHUMATION (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • OVEN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • PIT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POST HOLE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • SETTLEMENT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • DITCH (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)
  • GRUBENHAUS (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)
  • HEARTH (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)
  • POST HOLE (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)
  • SETTLEMENT (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)

Associated Finds

  • BRICK (Undated)
  • NAIL (Undated)
  • TILE (Undated)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT BOILER (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT BOILER (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • KNIFE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • KNIFE (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • COIN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • COIN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • COIN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FLUE TILE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • ROOF TILE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • STEELYARD WEIGHT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • TILE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • TILE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • VESSEL (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • BROOCH (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • GIRDLE HANGER (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • POT (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • POT (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TOKEN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.. 1994. NHER TL 8782ADL-AEU (NLA 339/HXL1-20) 28-MAY-1994.
---Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.. 1995. NHER TL 8782ACU-ACZ (NLA 336/GYQ25-30) 25-APR-1995.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.. 1994. NHER TL 8782AEG-AEU (NLA 339/SLIDE) 28-MAY-1994.
---Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.. 1994. NHER TL 8782AEV-AFB (NLA 338/SLIDE) 13-MAY-1994.
---Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.. 1994. NHER TL 8782AFC-AFH (NLA 338/HGA22-27) 13-MAY-1994.
---Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.. 1995. NHER TL 8782ADA-ADK (NLA 336/SLIDE) 25-APR-1995.
---Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.. 1994. NHER TL 8782ABM (NLA 335/GYQ30) 25-APR-1994.
<S1>Unpublished Contractor Report: Booth, P. 1993. Brettenham, Melford Meadows, Thetford. Archaeological Evaluation. Oxford Archaeological Unit.
<S2>Publication: Mudd, A.. 2002. Excavations at Melford Meadows, Brettenham, 1994: Romano-British and Early Saxon Occupations. EAA Report No. 99.
<S3>Unpublished Contractor Report: Mudd, A. 1994. Melford Meadows, Brettenham, Norfolk. Romano-British and Anglo-Saxon Occupation. Post-excavation Assessment and Publication Proposal. Oxford Archaeological Unit.
<S4>Unpublished Contractor Report: Shiel, D. 1997. Report on Geophysical Survey. White Barn Bungalow, Thetford. Geophysical Surveys of Bradford. 96/118.
<S5>Unpublished Contractor Report: Percival, S. 1997. Archaeological Watching Brief at White Barn Bungalow, Brettenham. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 210.
<S6>Unpublished Contractor Report: Crowson, A. 1997. Evaluation Excavation at Railway Cottages, Brettenham. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 244.
<S7>Unpublished Contractor Report: Crowson, A. 2000. Report on an Archaeological Watching Brief adjacent to Aleutia Gardens, Arlington Way, Brettenham. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 556.
<S8>Monograph: Pine, J. 2010. Neolithic, Roman and Saxon Settlement at Arlington Way, Thetford, Norfolk. Thames Valley Archaeological Services Monograph. Vol 18.
<S9>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 2001. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 2000. Norfolk Archaeology. XLIII Pt IV pp 707-728. p 709.
<S10>Illustration: Gregory, T. 1981. Drawing of an Early Saxon cruciform brooch.. Film. 1:1.
<S11>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1994. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1993. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt I pp 115-123. p 116.
<S12>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1995. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1994. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt II pp 230-239. p 231.
<S13>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 1997. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1996. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt IV pp 547-564. p 549.
<S14>Unpublished Contractor Report: Pine, J. 2010. Land at Arlington Way, Thetford, Norfolk. Post-Excavation Assessment. Thames Valley Archaeological Services.
<S15>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Hoggett, R. 2010. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk in 2009. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLVI Pt I pp 135-147. p 136.

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