Record Details

NHER Number:26767
Type of record:Monument
Name:Post medieval shellfish pits

Summary

A series of rectilinear pits can be seen on aerial photographs of this area. These were recorded by the Norfolk Rapid Coastal Survey as rectilinear pits lined with timber, although two were lined with brick walls. A number of related timber sluices and revetments were also recorded. They were originally used for the storage of oysters, mussels and other shellfish. Some of pits were constructed in the 1880s or earlier and some were used up until around 1995.

Images

  • Two 19th or 20th century shellfish pits, Brancaster  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service

Location

Grid Reference:TF 7941 4451
Map Sheet:TF74SE
Parish:BRANCASTER, WEST NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

January 2001. NMP.
A number of rectilinear pits are visible as earthworks at TF 794 444 - TF 793 445 on 1945 aerial photographs (S1). The pits vary in length from 2 to 7m and are located close to the high water mark. Some are cut into sand, next to an inlet, while other are cut into the saltmarsh. The features are also visible on 1967 aerial photographs (S2), although the more northerly pit is now in the intertidal zone and is barely discernible. The site can be seen in a similar state on 1972 aerial photographs (S3). A 1985 oblique aerial photograph (S4) further shows the nature of the pits, and shows how a couple have been destroyed by coastal retreat. Shellfish pots/cages can also be seen in the pits on this photo. The pits are marked on the 1906 Ordnance Survey map (S5) as 'mussel pits', confirming their use in the shellfish industry. This use appears to be continued up to the present day. Whether or not the pits date back to the post medieval period is unclear, as they do not appear on any earlier historic maps.
A. Hunt (NMP), 29 January 2001.

May-November 2004. Norfolk Rapid Coastal Survey.
Context 749.
Eleven pits were recorded, most of which were lined with timber, although two were lined with brick walls. They ranged in size from 2.8m by 2.6m to 5.6m by 3.9m and were arranged irregularly in an area measuring approximately 20m by 35m (centred on TF 79379 44535) located in the eastern part of Brancaster Staithe harbour. A number of related timber sluices and revetments were also recorded. They were originally used for the storage of oysters, mussels and other shellfish, but most were partly silted up and held some water, with one fully filled. A member of the public told the survey team that at least some of pits were constructed in the 1880s or earlier; some were used up until around 1995.
Context 813.
Two rectangular wooden posts at TF 79378 44567. They were located on southern edge of Mow Creek, embedded in saltmarsh mud. As they fall within the area of NHER 26767 [749], they may have been associated with the nearby shellfish pits.
See (S6).
J. Allen (NLA), 16 April 2005.

Monument Types

  • REVETMENT (Unknown date)
  • SLUICE (Unknown date)
  • PIT (Post Medieval to Modern - 1540 AD to 2050 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

<S1>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK Frms 4048-4049 18-JUN-1945 (NMR).
<S2>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Meridian Airmaps Limited. 1967. MAL 67028 049 16-APR-1967 (NMR).
<S3>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1972. OS/72033 102-103 22-MAR-1972.
<S4>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1972. (NMR) TF 7944 Frm 10 22-MAR-1972.
<S5>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1906. OS 2nd Edition 25" map 1906 Sheet 2.13.
<S6>Unpublished Document: Robertson, D., Crawley, P., Barker, A., and Whitmore, S.. 2005. NAU Report No. 1045. Norfolk Rapid Coastal Zone Archaeological Survey. Assessment Report and Updated Project Design..

Related records - none

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