Record Details

NHER Number:5953
Type of record:Find Spot
Name:Unprovenanced Palaeolithic handaxes and other worked flints, Snarehill/Rushford (Brettenham, poorly located)

Summary

A number of Palaeolithic flints objects are reported to have been found in the Snarehill area of what is now Brettenham parish during the early 20th century. Although the exact provenance of these objects is unclear it appears that many were recovered during gravel extraction close to the River Thet. Many of the objects found are now within various museum collections, including over 25 handaxes.

Images - none

Location

Parish:BRETTENHAM, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

Various Palaeolithic objects found in the Snarehill/Rushford area by various individuals in the late 19th and early 20th century. Both areas are now part of Brettenham parish.

Many of these finds appear to have come from a single site, the precise location of which is unknown. Information from (S1). This site in question was described by W. G. Clarke as "…in the river-drift at Snarehill, about a mile above Thetford, on low ground some 200 yards from the left bank of the River Thet" (S2). Finds were recovered during the extraction of gravel for road mending. It is clear from (S15) that Wymer's could not convincingly locate this site, although he did examine several former quarries in this area.

See NHER 5808 for details of unprovenanced Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic material from this area.

REPORTED DISCOVERIES

The following discoveries were probably made at the site explicitly described by W. G. Clarke in (S2):

About 1890. Stray Find.
Various finds found by Mr A. G. Cronshey (Thetford), including a 'pick', an almost rectangular 'hatchet', three small axes and an oval implement. Information from (S2).

About 1900. Stray Find.
In 1905 W. G. Clarke noted a "Palaeolithic axe" that had been found "during excavations at Snarehill" (S16). It was 10 inches [25.5cm] long. This may be the "fine axe" noted in (S2) and subsequently acquired by W. G. Clarke.

Late 1904/early 1905. Stray Find.
Approximately 20 implements discovered. Varying types, described by (S2) as "…as a rule splendidly chipped, and very symmetrical. In some cases they have the ochreous patina on one face only, while in others the gravelly stain covers the whole surface."

Pre 1909. Stray Find.
According to (S2), further implements were subsequently recovered from this site by a Mr F. Russell. Types present included 'the ordinary axe', the 'pick', narrow oval implements and broad oval/discoidal implements.

It is likely that some of these objects are amongst the "series of Palaeolithic implements found at Snarehill and Brettenham" that were exhibited at a meeting of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia on 11 October 1909 by H. Dixon Hewitt (on behalf of Mr Russell) (S3). The Snarehill material was apparently "…from gravel on the south bank of the River Thet". The assemblage is described in very similar terms to that noted in (S2), apparently consisting of "…axes, picks, narrow ovate implements, and broad ovate implements". The picks noted as being "...very fine, having big butts and long tapering points" (S3). As noted below it is possible that some of these objects are now amongst material held by the Norwich Castle Museum.

Rushford (Snarehill) was subsequently listed by Clarke in (S4) as one of the locations that had produced Palaeolithic material prior to 1907. A number of finders are listed, including J. Chapman, A. G. Cronshey, W. A. Dutt, F. Russell and W. G. Clarke himself. Reference is also made to both (S2) and (S16), suggest that most, if not all of this material was from the site previously described by Clarke.

A number of other finds are recorded as coming from unspecified sites in Snarehill/Rushford. It is likely that at least some were from the same site as those detailed above. These are as follows:

25 August 1909. Stray Find.
According to (S1) a "few small Palaeoliths" were found in the gravels at Snarehill on this date by a Dr Pegler. This information was from (S7).

Pre January 1910. Stray Find.
A very large white-patinated flake from Snarehill was exhibited at meeting of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia on 31 January 1910 (S3). This was exhibited by H. Dixon Hewitt, again on behalf of Mr F Russell, and may well have come from the same location as the earlier discoveries.

Pre March 1910. Stray Find.
A pointed "Palaeolithic implement" from Snarehill was exhibited at a meeting of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia on 14 March 1910 by Mr. J. Chapman (S3). It is possible that this was an earlier discovery and reason the Chapman was listed in (S4) as one of the individuals that had recovered Palaeolithic material at Snarehill prior to 1907.

Pre 1916. Stray Find.
According to (S8) Dr Sturge held at this time a Palaeolithic implement from Snarehill described as a 'side-chopper'. It also appears that Sturge's collection included a number of handaxes from the Rushford/Snarehill area; these now part of the British Museum's Sturge Collection (see below).

According to (S1) the Palaeolithic discoveries at this site are also noted in (S5), (S6) and (S7).

November 1968 or before. Stray Find.
Flakes found by R. J. MacRae.
No other details are recorded.
Information from (S15).

FINDS IN MUSEUM COLLECTIONS

Unsurprisingly, given the number of collectors, the material from the Rushford/Snarehill area is now much dispersed. Roe (S10) identified at least 21 handaxes and two retouched flakes/flake implements in collections at the NCM, the British Museum, the Oxford University Museum and the Horniman Museum.

British Museum:
The British Museum Sturge Collection includes 3 handaxes and 2 flakes from Snarehill (2011,8109.764). These objects noted in (S11) and described on (S15) and in (S12) as 3 handaxes, 1 worked flake and 1 rolled primary flake.

Norwich Castle Museum:
It is noted on (S15) and in (S12) that Wymer identified 17 handaxes from Snarehill in the Norwich Castle Museum's collections. The same number of handaxes is listed on (S1), described as 2 Group I and 15 Group II implements.
One is almost certainly a Palaeolithic "axe" in the H. H. Halls collection (NWHCM : 1924.83) that is described on (S15).

It is unclear at present which collections the others are in. Many are probably in a collection of objects that was acquired from T. H. Russell in 1939 (NWHCM : 1939.146), which is recorded as including material from Snarehill. The museum's records also make reference to (S3), suggesting that this collection does indeed include at least some of the material acquired by F. Russell during the early 1900s.

Pitt Rivers Museum:
It is noted on (S15) and in (S12) that Wymer identified 7 small irregular handaxes and 3 flake in the collections of the Pitt Rivers. It is noted that these artefacts are in very different condition to those in the NCM, being mostly rolled and often with 'toad-belly' patination. These objects could not be identified in the museum's current records. It is possible that they are the material listed by Roe (S10) as being in the Oxford University Museum, although it appears from (S15) that only 1 handaxe was present at this location.

Thetford Museum:
In is noted on (S1) and on (S15) that the Thetford Museum holds Palaeolithic material from Snarehill.
It appears that these objects are as follows:
1 handaxe. Rushford, Snarehill. Ex G. O. Read. Acquired in 1940 (THEHM : 1975.313).
4 handaxes. Rushford, Snarehill. Ex A. G. Cronshey. Acquired 1924 (THEHM : 1977.161).
1 ?flake. Rushford, Snarehill. Ex A. G. Cronshey. Acquired 1924 (THEHM : 1979.62).
1 ?handaxe. Great Snarehill. Ex Rev. H. T. Green. Acquired 1924 (THEHM : 1979.61).
Information from museum records.

Other museums:
According to (S1) the Horniman Museum (London) holds Palaeolithic material from Snarehill. It is recorded on (S15) that this information was also noted during the compilation of (S10). It is unclear what, if any, objects are now held by this museum.

Many of these finds are listed in (S13) and (S14), although few additional details are given.

P. Watkins (HES), 7 May 2013.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 1000000 BC to 40001 BC)

Associated Finds

  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC? to 40001 BC?)
  • FLAKE? (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC? to 40001 BC?)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE? (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC? to 40001 BC?)
  • HANDAXE? (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC? to 40001 BC?)
  • HANDAXE? (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC? to 40001 BC?)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC? to 40001 BC?)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC? to 40001 BC?)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC? to 40001 BC?)
  • RETOUCHED FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TL 88 SE 89; TL 98 SW 31.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card. NHERs 5953 and 5792.
<S1>Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Palaeolithic.
<S2>Article in Serial: Clark, W. G. 1906. The Classification of Norfolk Flint Implements. Transactions of the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists' Society. Vol VIII Pt 2 (for 1905-1906) pp 215-230. p 221.
<S3>Article in Serial: 1911. Summary of Proceedings. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. Vol I Pt I (for 1909-1910) pp 109-121. pp 114, 117, 119.
<S4>Article in Serial: Clarke, W. G. 1907. The Distribution of Flint and Bronze Implements in Norfolk. Transactions of the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists' Society. Vol VIII Pt III (for 1906-1907) pp 393-409. pp 396, 398.
<S5>Publication: Clarke, W. G. 1921. Norfolk and Suffolk. p.88. p 88.
<S6>Monograph: Ebert, M. 1926. Reallexikon der Vorgeschichte [Lexicon of History]. Vol IV. p 536.
<S7>Publication: Clarke, W.G.. MSS 126.
<S8>Article in Serial: Moir, J. Reid. 1916. On the Evolution of the Earliest Palaeoliths from the Rostro-Carinate Implements. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. Vol XLVI pp 197-220 XLVI Vol XLVI pp 197-220. p 212.
<S10>Monograph: Roe, D. A. 1968. A Gazetteer of British Lower and Middle Palaeolithic Sites. CBA Research Report. No 8. p 237.
<S11>Publication: Smith, R. A. 1931. The Sturge Collection: an illustrated selection of flints from Britain bequeathed in 1919 by William Allen Sturge. pp 126-127.
<S12>Publication: Wymer, J. J. 1985. Palaeolithic Sites of East Anglia. pp 115, 391.
<S13>Unpublished Contractor Report: 1996. The English Rivers Palaeolithic Project. Regions 9 (Great Ouse) and 12 (Yorkshire and the Lincolnshire Wolds). Wessex Archaeology. LLO-2, No. 9.
<S14>Website: TERPS online database. Site 22680.
<S15>Record Card: Wymer, J. J. Wymer Index Card - Palaeolithic. Brettenham (Rushford, Snarehill).
<S16>Article in Serial: Clark, W. G. 1905. Remains of the Neolithic Age in Thetford District. Transactions of the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists' Society. Vol VIII Pt 1 (for 1904-1905) pp 25-35. p 33.

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