Record Details

NHER Number:5868
Type of record:Monument
Name:Possible site of St Edmund's Church

Summary

Discovery of substantial stone foundations in 1957 (see NHER 50547) indicates that a church may have stood at this location. It has been suggested that the foundations are the remains of St Edmund's medieval church which may have had pre-Conquest origins, was in use in the 13th and 14th centuries, and was demolished at the Reformation. Antiquarian excavations adjacent to the Gas Works had previously discovered the remnants of medieval burials as well as Saxon huts and contemporary artefacts (see NHER 5759), while discoveries in the 1960s and 70s and more recently in 1996 and 2001 of inhumations, bone, and coffin fragments reinforce the notion that a church was located here.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TL 8692 8248
Map Sheet:TL88SE
Parish:THETFORD, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

Discovery of foundations for a large building in 1957 (see NHER 50547) has led to the identification of this site as the likely location of St. Edmund's church. The church may have had pre-Conquest origins, and is known to have been in use in 1291 and 1368 (S1). Bryant (S2) and Blomefield (S3) note that St. Edmunds became a chapel during the reign of Henry IV (1399-1413), and was demolished at the Reformation. The site of St Edmund's church is depicted at this location on the 1883 Ordnance Survey map (S4), and an unidentified church is marked at roughly this location on Martin's map of 1740 (S5). However, Blomefield (S3) located St Edmund's church slightly south of the town, in Suffolk, and Batcock (S1) has suggested that the remains recorded at the Old Gasworks are not of St Edmund's.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 1 February 2008.

1870. Casual Find.
Pottery sherds, bone awls, stone and bone amulets, and hut sites were recorded in this field (now occupied by the gasworks), and across the road (presumably the site at St Mary's Estate, NHER 5847, but also possibly from the Saxon occupation at NHER 5758). The finds are thought to date to the Saxon period based on comparison with those across the road.
Information from note by W.G. Clarke in an article in (S6).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 31 January 2008.

Around 1902. Casual Find.
The skeleton of a 'full grown child' was discovered in a garden plot adjacent to the gas works on Bury Road approximately five years prior to the discovery of an inhumation in a stone coffin (see below). In 1907 a stone marked the location of the burial.
It is uncertain whether this garden plot was located within the area included in NHER 5868 or NHER 5759.
Information from (S7), in file.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 31 January 2008.

1907. Casual Find.
An inhumation in a stone coffin (orientated east-west) was discovered while gardening in a plot adjoining the gas works on Bury Road. No identification was found either in the interior or exterior of the coffin, which had a plain lid with a ridge down the center. Earth was removed around the coffin, revealing remains of a possible vault. Possible foundations were also revealed at a slight distance from the coffin, and it is thought that these may have belonged to a church.
It is uncertain whether this garden plot was located within the area included in NHER 5868 or NHER 5759.
Information from (S7), in file.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 31 January 2008.

1957. Excavation.
EXCAVATIONS BY G. KNOCKER (Ministry of Works) PREVIOUSLY RECORDED UNDER THIS RECORD ARE NOW RECORDED AS NHER 50547.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 31 January 2008.

1977. Field Observation.
A foundation trench was excavated, parallel to the eastern boundary of the site. No features were identified and finds were limited to a small quantity of animal bone, five sherds of Thetford ware, and one possible early medieval sherd [1].
A. Rogerson, 5 October 1977.

1978. Find.
A portion of a human skeleton was retrieved from a trench on the site of the gasworks. Many more bones were visible in the section immediately beneath the concrete floor. The bones had likely been previously disturbed when the floor was inserted [2].
Information from file.
A. J. Lawson, 27 April 1978.

1982. Watching Brief.
Groundworks for the construction of offices for the gas board were monitored. Located within an area of the site where no buildings are visible on the 1883 OS map (S4), the excavations reached a depth of 40cm and revealed only recent brick rubble and tarmac. No archaeological finds or features were encountered.
Information from file.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 31 January 2008.

June 1996. Watching Brief.
Monitoring of the excavation of test pits revealed archaeological remains in 8 of 14 pits. Pits or burials were identified in four of the test pits. Finds were recovered from 6 of the pits and included Thetford Ware pottery and animal and human bone.
See report (S9) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S14) and (S15).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 1 February 2008.

2001. Find.
British Gas reported finding human bones in a pipe trench within the works. The remains were reburied on site.
E. Rose (NLA), 23 July 2001.

November 2007. Geophysical Survey.
A ground penetrating radar and electromagnetic survey was carried out across the site. Features were difficult to distinguish from the infrastructure of the former gas works. However, several features of possible archaeological significance were identified. These have been interpreted as masonry footings and/or pits. These were concentrated in the area immediately south of the foundations identified in 1957 (NHER 50547), believed to represent the remains of St Edmund's church.
See report (S10) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 1 February 2008.

November 2007-December 2007. Trial Trenching.
A number of features dating to the Late Saxon phase of the town were revealed and included pits, post-holes, ditches and evidence for iron smelting. The pottery assemblage recovered indicates that activity on the site dates from the late 10th to early 11th century. The trenches located in the garden of 13 Bury Road revealed chalk wells, a probable floor and burials that could relate to the former medieval church. The grave cuts truncated the chalk walls, which could suggest that burial at this location continued after the church was demolished. Other finds from the site included Roman, medieval and post-medieval pottery and ceramic building material.
See report (S12) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S13).
The associated archive has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2011.103).
S. Howard (HES), 31 August 2011. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 12 May 2019.

July 2012. Watching Brief.
Details awaited.
P. Watkins (HES), 21 February 2017.

Monument Types

  • PIT (Unknown date)
  • FINDSPOT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • CHURCH (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • GRAVE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • INHUMATION (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • LINEAR FEATURE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • PIT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • POST HOLE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • WALL (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • CHURCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • INHUMATION (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PIT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POST HOLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WALL (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Undated)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Unknown date)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Unknown date)
  • METAL WORKING DEBRIS (Unknown date)
  • NAIL (Undated)
  • POT (Unknown date)
  • BUILDING MATERIAL (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • AMULET (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • AWL (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • POT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • BUILDING MATERIAL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • COFFIN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BUILDING MATERIAL (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TL 88 SE 50.
---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 - Late Saxon. Thetford.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Thetford.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
<S1>Monograph: Batcock, N. 1991. The Ruined and Disused Churches of Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 51. Microfiche 5:G12. Nos 225, 239; pp 54-55.
<S2>Monograph: Bryant, T. H. 191?. Hundred of Thetford. The Churches of Norfolk.
<S3>Serial: Blomefield, F.. 1805. An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk.. Vol II. p 73.
<S4>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1883. Ordnance Survey 6 inch map.
<S5>Monograph: Martin, T.. 1779. History of Thetford.. pp 12, 13. p 81.
<S6>Archive: Bolingbroke Collection.
<S7>Newspaper Article: Thetford and Watton Post. 1907. Finding of a Stone Coffin at Thetford. 18 July.
<S8>Unpublished Contractor Report: Penn, K. 1996. Proposed development at Bury Road, Thetford. The Archaeological Implications. A Report for WS Atkins Environment. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 857.
<S9>Unpublished Contractor Report: Wallis, H. 1996. The Old Gasworks, Bury Road, Thetford, Norfolk. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 176.
<S10>Unpublished Contractor Report: Archer, T. 2007. Geophysical Site Investigation at a Former Gas Works in Bury Road, Thetford. Arrow Geophysics. 092-07.
<S11>Monograph: Batcock, N.. 1988. Minsters and Parish Churches.. 2. p 184.
<S12>Unpublished Contractor Report: Ames, J. and Crawford, R. 2008. An Archaeological Evaluation at the Former Gasworks, Bury Road, Thetford, Norfolk. NAU Archaeology. 1331.
<S13>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Hoggett, R. (eds). 2008. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk in 2007. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLV Pt III pp 441-452. p 451.
<S14>Article in Serial: Nenk, B. S., Haith, C. and Bradley, J. 1997. Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1996. Medieval Archaeology. Vol XLI pp 241-328. p 279.
<S15>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 561.

Related records

50547Related to: Possible site of St Edmund's Church, Late Saxon occupation and inhumations, and undated finds (Monument)

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