Record Details

NHER Number:36394
Type of record:Monument
Name:Site of a circular enclosure

Summary

The cropmarks of a large circular enclosure, possibly representing the remains of a Bronze Age round barrow or hengiform monument of late Neolithic to early Bronze Age date, are visible on aerial photographs to the north of the High House Farm, Billingford. An alternative interpretation of the enclosure representing a later prehistoric domestic site could also be suggested, however this is considered unlikely.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TG 0047 2121
Map Sheet:TG02SW
Parish:BILLINGFORD, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

26 June 1996. NLA air photography.
A cropmark of large ring ditch with a causeway to the southeast.
It may be a Bronze Age barrow (see notes in NHER 7203), although it is extremely large.
It may be a circular enclosure, relating to settlement activity, late prehistoric in date.
S. Massey (NLA), 23 August 2001.

February 2008. Norfolk NMP.
The cropmarks of a large circular enclosure, possibly representing the remains of a Bronze Age round barrow or hengiform monument of late Neolithic to early Bronze Age date, are visible on aerial photographs to the north of the High House Farm, Billingford (S1). An alternative interpretation of the enclosure representing a later prehistoric domestic site could also be suggested, however this is considered unlikely. The site is centred on TG 0047 2121 and is located on the slopes of the Wensum valley, positioned in-between the Wensum and a minor tributary stream to the east. The monument would appear to have been positioned to overlook the tributary rather than the Wensum itself. Finds in the area attest to activity in the Neolithic and early Bronze Age periods in close vicinity to the cropmarks. Prehistoric flints tools, including a fabricator and scraper both of Neolithic date, have been found close to the site (NHER 4378, 12339-40, 15036). A barbed and tanged arrowhead of late Neolithic to early Bronze Age has also been found near to the site (NHER 7201).

The ring ditch measures 51m in diameter and appears to have a definite causeway in ditch to the southeast, giving the monument a hengiform appearance. Given the large size of the enclosure the ditch is particularly narrow. This ring ditch is outside of the usual range for Bronze Age round barrow ditches (more generally 10-45m across), although it is possible that it still represents the remains of a large round barrow site, possibly of late Neolithic to Bronze Age date. High House Farm, approximately 120m to the south, is said to have been constructed on the site of a barrow, of possible Bronze Age, but perhaps containing an urn of Roman date. Although this information is considered doubtful, see NHER 7203 for details. A smaller ring ditch (NHER 29827), possibly also representing a Bronze Age round barrow, is located approximately 550m to the east of the site.

It is possible that this monument may be part of a class of ring ditch known from cropmarks elsewhere, including Cambridgeshire, which are defined by narrow ditches and are generally thought too large to represent normal round barrows, as described in Wilson 2000 (S2). It seems likely that these enclosures may have had a ceremonial or funerary function in the prehistoric period. One extremely large ring ditch, 81m in diameter, is located approximately 10 km to the east at Foxford (NHER 50706).

A possible arc of pits has tentatively identified following the interior of the ring ditch, however these are of uncertain archaeological origin and may well be geological. The cropmarks reveal a significant number of more obviously natural pits within the enclosure and the rest of the field. It is therefore highly likely that these pits do not relate a former post setting or pit circle within the enclosure. However the fact that these pits appear to terminate at the causeway of the ditch gives the site a distinctly hengiform appearance and given the presence of late Neolithic and early Bronze Age date finds in the area it is possible that this site represents a ceremonial site of that period.

An alternative interpretation for a ring ditch of this size with a clear entrance would be a later prehistoric enclosed settlement site or ringwork. The size is broadly consistent with ringworks dating to the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age, such as West Harling (NHER 6019), however a broader ditch would be expected as such as site, making this interpretation considerably less likely that the previously suggested examples.
Also see (S3)
S. Massey (NMP), 14 February 2008.

Monument Types

  • CIRCULAR ENCLOSURE (Unknown date)
  • PIT (Unknown date)
  • RING DITCH (Unknown date)
  • CIRCULAR ENCLOSURE (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • PIT (Early Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 4000 BC? to 701 BC?)
  • ROUND BARROW (Early Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 4000 BC? to 701 BC?)
  • HENGIFORM MONUMENT? (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC? to 1501 BC?)
  • PIT CIRCLE? (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC? to 1501 BC?)
  • RING DITCH (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • ROUND BARROW? (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • RINGWORK? (Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age - 1000 BC? to 401 BC?)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • SHINE

Sources and further reading

<S1>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. NHER TG 0021C-F (NLA 364/HKA1-4) 26-JUN-1996.
<S2>Monograph: Wilson, D.R.. 2000. Air Photo Interpretation for Archaeologists.. p 110.
<S3>Article in serial: Horlock, S., Albone, J. and Tremlett, S. 2008. The Archaeology of Norfolk's Aggregate Landscape: Results of the National Mapping Programme. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLV Pt III pp 337-348.

Related records - none

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