Record Details

NHER Number:43494
Type of record:Monument
Name:The cropmarks of an extensive late prehistoric to Early Roman settlement, field system and trackways, Hopton-on-Sea

Summary

The cropmarks of an extensive late prehistoric to Early Roman date settlement, field system and trackways are visible on aerial photographs in Hopton-on-Sea. The main focus of the site is an area of conjoined enclosures with internal roundhouses, surrounded by fields and stock enclosures. This is likely to represent a large farmstead or small settlement. These fields and enclosures are linked to a central trackway that may link up with a major long-distance trackway (NHER 43529), which runs through the centre of the site, to the west of the main enclosures. These trackways possibly pre-date the Iron Age settlement and may have Bronze Age origins. This settlement gets overlain by a later Roman planned system of fields and enclosures, see NHER 43495 for details.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TG 52324 01269
Map Sheet:TG50SW
Parish:GREAT YARMOUTH, GREAT YARMOUTH, NORFOLK
HOPTON ON SEA, GREAT YARMOUTH, NORFOLK

Full description

April 2006. Norfolk NMP.
The cropmarks of an extensive Iron Age to Early Roman settlement, field system and trackways are visible on aerial photographs in Hopton-on-Sea (S1-S9). The site is centred on TG 5232 0134 and covers approximately 1km². The main focus of the site is an area of conjoined enclosures with internal roundhouses, surrounded by fields and stock enclosures. This is likely to represent a large farmstead or small settlement. These fields and enclosures are linked to a central trackway may link up with a major long-distance trackway (NHER 43529), which runs through the centre of the site, to the west of the main enclosures. Although the relationship is not clear as the potential meeting point is obscured by the modern road (A12). These trackways to the west possibly pre-date the Iron Age settlement and may have Bronze Age origins. This settlement gets overlain by a later Roman planned system of fields and enclosures, see NHER 43495 for details. 230m to the southeast is another area of field boundaries and enclosures associated with a trackway (NHER 43496). These ditches share the same general alignment as the Iron Age settlement and are likely to be the same date and probably part of the same settlement and field system.

These cropmarks were originally recorded under NHER 11788, which encompasses a vast area of approximately 2km² and includes information derived from metal detecting, fieldwalking and developer funded archaeological evaluations and excavations. This varied archaeological work has produced artefacts ranging from Neolithic through to post medieval period. There has been a notable lack of material recorded dating to the Iron Age period, other than first to second century BC brooch and terret fragment, although many of the Roman coins and brooch styles indicate very early Roman period occupation. However it must be noted many of the Iron Age and Early Roman finds were found to the south of this area of cropmarks and were more in the general vicinity of NHER 43519 and 43525.

The main focus of the settlement or farmstead is a large sub-rectangular enclosure centred on TG 5240 0123 and measuring 135m by 80m (at its widest). This fronts onto a wide trackway that runs through the centre of the site and towards the long-distance trackway to the west (NHER 43529). The ditches of the enclosure are 1-2m wide and there is a clear entrance gap to the east at TG 5244 0125. However there is also a noticeable thinning of the enclosure ditch at TG 5244 0125 and this may indicate the former presence of an entrance leading directly out onto the trackway. Conjoined to this main enclosure is another sub-rectangular enclosure to the east, again measuring 135m long and ranging from 20-40m wide. The access to the main enclosure from the trackway to the eastern entrance appears to lead into/from a square enclosure, approximately 40m², which forms the northern half of the eastern sub-rectangular enclosure. This space is bordered with a double ditched track, which would have structured movement into the main enclosure for both people and animals. The western end of the square enclosure also has a series of elongated and enclosed areas that are probably associated with the separation and housing of stock.

Both of these two large enclosures are heavily sub-divided with internal ditches creating a network of elongated and rectangular enclosed areas of varying sizes, although many form roughly square areas of approximately 20m across. Again these may be stock enclosures and paddocks, or perhaps just areas defined for different domestic, agricultural or even industrial activities. Circular and penannular ring ditches, 3.5-6m in diameter, are likely to the remains of five roundhouses. Two larger and more irregular penannular cropmarks, 8-9m in diameter, may also be the remains of roundhouses, although the slightly angular ditches could indicate a different use.

To the north of the trackway is another enclosure, centred on TG 52434 0134, and defined by a curvilinear double ditched. An internal round house within a rectilinear enclosed area is visible. The area to the west of the main enclosure, centred on TG 5231 0128, also appears to have been heavily subdivided. The space has roughly been divided into blocks 30m long, but varying widths, again presumably for different purposes. To the south of this is a square enclosure, 50m². This seems a lot more regular than the surrounding enclosures and may represent a different and perhaps later phase within the life of the settlement.

To the east of the main enclosures is another conjoined area of fields or paddocks. Running through this is a double ditched linear feature, potentially a trackway, which appears to be on a slightly different alignment to the rest of the enclosures and seems to cross the enclosure ditches of the main settlement area. It is not clear whether this is an earlier feature incorporated into the enclosures, or a later alteration of the site. To the east of this the route of the former valley running SW-NE from Valley Farm obscures the cropmarks for approximately 50m. The line of the ditches and trackway can be seen to continue on the other side, although the density of the cropmarks is significantly lower.

The land to the north of the central trackway is less heavily divided than to the south, forming large enclosed areas almost 200m long, which were probably fields or stock areas. Many of the cropmarks in this area of the site are more irregular and curvilinear and it is possible that some earlier elements have been incorporated into the site. Centred on TG 5251 0151 is a three-sided or incomplete enclosed area that has a noticeably irregular southern ditch. To the west at TG 5233 0147 is a curvilinear double ditched feature, which does not follow general alignment of the rest of the site. Other irregular and curvilinear ditches and enclosures in this area have been recorded under NHER 43500 and are tentatively interpreted as being earlier than the settlement. It is possible that this double ditched feature is also related to earlier activity.

Away from the main focus of the settlement the cropmarks are much more fragmentary, with only small areas of ditches forming a coherent plan of fields. The relationship with the rest of the site is not as clear, although they appear to follow the same alignment as the Iron Age site and are not obviously related to the Roman planned landscape which also covers this area (NHER 43495). The main clusters of cropmarks are located at TG 5229 0177, TG 5192 0171 and TG 5209 0118. The cropmarks on this western part of the site show no obvious relationship to the sinuous trackway that gets incorporated into the later Roman site (NHER 43501). Although a few of the fragmentary field boundaries do run up to the trackway ditches without crossing it, suggesting that it is in use as a trackway or at least a visible feature in the landscape.
S. Massey (NMP), 11 April 2006.

March 2011. Desk-based Assessment.
An archaeological desk-based assessment was carried out by Chris Birks Archaeological Services to characterise the archaeological potential within a proposed development at Gorleston Golf Club. The potential for Iron Age to Roman sub-surface archaeological remains to survive was considered to be high.
See (S10) for details.
E. Bales (HES), 23 July 2012.

Monument Types

  • FARMSTEAD (Early Bronze Age to Roman - 2350 BC to 409 AD)
  • FIELD BOUNDARY (Early Bronze Age to Roman - 2350 BC to 409 AD)
  • FIELD SYSTEM (Early Bronze Age to Roman - 2350 BC to 409 AD)
  • RECTANGULAR ENCLOSURE (Early Bronze Age to Roman - 2350 BC to 409 AD)
  • RING DITCH (Early Bronze Age to Roman - 2350 BC to 409 AD)
  • ROUND HOUSE (DOMESTIC) (Early Bronze Age to Roman - 2350 BC to 409 AD)
  • SETTLEMENT (Early Bronze Age to Roman - 2350 BC to 409 AD)
  • SQUARE ENCLOSURE (Early Bronze Age to Roman - 2350 BC to 409 AD)
  • STOCK ENCLOSURE (Early Bronze Age to Roman - 2350 BC to 409 AD)
  • TRACKWAY (Early Bronze Age to Roman - 2350 BC to 409 AD)
  • ENCLOSURE (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • SHINE
  • SHINE

Sources and further reading

<S1>Oblique Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. 1974. CUCAP (BQE95) 02-JUL-1974.
<S2>Vertical Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. 1976. CUCAP K17AM 44-46 29-JUN-1976 (NHER TG 5200M, TG 5201L-M).
<S3>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1976. NHER TG 5201K (NLA 31/AFR21) 08-JUL-1976.
<S4>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1976. NHER TG 5202B-C (NLA 31/AFQ23-4) 08-JUL-1976.
<S5>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1976. NHER TG 5201C (NLA 32/AGB11) 13-JUL-1976.
<S6>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1977. NHER TG 5201R (NLA 44/AHT7) 06-JUL-1977.
<S7>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1977. NHER TG 5200Y (NLA 45/AHZ10) 19-JUL-1977.
<S8>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1979. NMR TG5201/17 (SFU JN19) 24-JUL-1979.
<S9>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1989. NHER TG 5201W (NLA 233/DPH9) 04-JUL-1989.
<S10>Unpublished document: Birks, C.. 2012. Chris Birks Archaeological Services Report No. CB247R Report on an Archaeological Desk-based Assessment at Gorleston Golf Club, Hopton on Sea.

Related records

43500Related to: Cropmarks of possible late prehistoric enclosures and associated ditches (Monument)
43496Related to: The cropmarks of a possible Iron Age to Early Roman date field system and roundhouse (Monument)
11788Related to: Valley Farm site, multi-period finds and excavations, Mason's Farm (Monument)

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