Record Details

NHER Number:5971
Type of record:Find Spot
Name:Mesolithic (and possibly later) worked flints and Iron Age pottery, Langmere, Ringmere and East Wretham Heath

Summary

A significant number of prehistoric worked flints were recovered in the area of East Wretham Heath during the early 20th century. It appears that a significant proportion of this material was Mesolithic, with particular concentration identified in the vicinity of Langmere and on the heath to the east. At least one Mesolithic flint was also recovered close to Ringmere. The Mesolithic flints recovered were predominantly blades, although a small number of scrapers, cores and microliths were also found. Sherds of Iron Age pottery and a number of pot boilers were also recovered in this area.

Images

  • Mesolithic flints found at East Wretham.  © Norfolk County Council

Location

Grid Reference:TL 912 883
Map Sheet:TL98NW
Parish:WRETHAM, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

Prehistoric worked flints collected on East Wretham Heath during in the early 20th century, including material recovered in the vicinity of Langmere and Ringmere. The mapped extent of this record indicate the rough area in which the majority of these finds were probably recovered, reflecting the maximum extent of East Wretham Heath around this time.

REPORTED DISCOVERIES

Pre 1909. Stray Find.
It is known that a number of worked flints were recovered by W. G. Clarke in the vicinity of Langmere in the very early 20th century. In 1905 Clarke recorded that "both north-west and north-east of Langmere the 'brecks' yield a large quantity of chipped flints, some of good workmanship, with rough pottery" (S1).

In 1908 W. G. Clarke recovered a "single-edged saw…on the north bank of Langmere, where the implements and pottery...previously found betoken that there was once a Neolithic settlement" (S2). This find was also noted in (S3).

Clarke also referred to his Langmere finds as Neolithic in (S4), but in 1914 he described them as "…numerous implements…of Magdalenian type…" (S5); suggesting they were potentially Mesolithic (a period that was not recognised at this time). It is also noted in (S5) that in 1909 Clarke had found flint implements of a "distinctive type" on the heath to the east of Langmere - it was in this location that many additional flints would be recovered by J. E. Marr (see below).

It appears that these finds are the reason that Clarke listed East Wretham as a location that had produced "Sandy Site Type" implements prior to 1907 (S6). The finders were listed as W. A. Dutt and Clarke himself. Information from (S7). It is noted in (S6) that at least some of these finds were in the Thetford Mechanics' Institute, which is now the Thetford Museum, although as noted by (S7) these appear to be finds from Ringmere rather than Langmere (see below). These references were previously recorded under NHER 8994.

It is known that at least some of the finds that Clarke recovered on East Wretham Heath were from a location that he designated his Site 6; although it is unclear whether this related to the whole of the heath or a more specific location. Clarke's Site 6 was previously noted under NHER 5974.

Pre 1913. Fieldwalking.
Significant number of Mesolithic flints recovered from site on East Wretham Heath by J. E. Marr. These finds are recorded as having come from an "…extensive tract bare tract about 100 yards [91.4m] east of the high road from Thetford to Wretham, and just north of a cross-road which runs nearly east and west, passing the south side of Langmere…" (S8). The flints were mostly recovered from rabbit scrapes. The short published article describes the finds as representing a Late Palaeolithic assemblage, although this material was subsequently recognised as Mesolithic; being first referred to as such when briefly mentioned in (S9). It should be noted that the Mesolithic was not a period that was recognised when these discoveries were first reported.

The condition of the flints and the range of types present was seen as evidence that these finds represented an occupation site of some kind. The flints are described as patinated, with the assemblage being dominated by long flakes (many of which we would probably now classify as blades). Tools listed in (S8) include three end-scrapers, a denticulate flake and several pieces which had been worked to points (but not burins). Several flakes are described as having "battered backs"; these possible what would now be termed crested flakes. One of the five items illustrated in (S8) appears to be a backed bladelet or microlith.

Other finds recorded by (S8) as being found on this site at time include a number of pot boilers and three sherds of pottery; the latter described as "rough and hand-made, dark coloured, with many quartz grains". Although not dated in (S8), these sherds are described as Iron Age in (S10).
These post-Mesolithic finds were previously recorded as NHER 5980.

Marr also recorded that he had found "many worked flints" on "bare tracts [that occurred] in the immediate vicinity of Langmere" (S1).

According to (S1) material from this site was donated to the Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge. These finds appear to be listed twice in (S4), with the first list almost certainly taken from the published article. The second list catalogues the material held by the Sedgwick Museum, recorded as 27 flakes/blades, 2 scrapers, 2 microliths and 3 other objects. These finds are also noted in (S5), although little additional information is given.

Finds listed as being from 'Langmere' and also held by Sedgwick Museum are likely to be further material collected by Marr, as (S1) records that "many worked flints" were also found near Langmere itself. See NHER 58725 for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 24 April 2013.

1920s. Stray Find.
During the 1920s a number of worked flints were collected in the parish of East Wretham by H. Dixon Hewitt; an area that he designated his Site XLIV. Although Dixon Hewitt's Site XLIV covered the whole parish it is clear from his notes that a significant proportion of his finds were from East Wretham Heath, specifically an area described as being "…near the Drove Road crossing on the road from Thetford to Wretham a little north of Ringmere, mostly to the east of the road". It is also recorded that this area was "Dr. Marr's Cave-Palaeo site", although Dixon Hewitt regarded the finds as "…synchronous with Two Mile Bottom [Site] XXII and St Helens Well [site] XX* and Fowlmere [Site] XLV etc. that is as a mere survival of Magdalenian forms into Neolithic time". This is a reference to the finds recovered by Dixon Hewitt at NHER 5719, NHER 5656 and NHER 5712.
See copy of notes (from Norwich Castle Museum) in file.
P. Watkins (HES), 24 April 2013.

The finds recovered at this site by Clarke, Marr and Dixon Hewitt are also noted in (S12), (S13) and (S14).
Information from (S15).
P. Watkins (HES), 24 April 2013.

15 December 1934.
According to (S15) this site was visited by R. R. Clarke in 1934, although no further details are given. This would appear to be confirmed by (S10), which states that Iron Age sherds "…of the second phase" were noted here by R. R. Clarke in 1934. See (S16). The NCM holds a number of Iron Age pottery sherds from this site (NWHCM : 1955.179.16), which although not accessioned until 1955, are probably those found by R. R. Clarke.
P. Watkins (HES), 24 April 2013.

FINDS IN MUSEUM COLLECTIONS

Several museums hold prehistoric worked flints that were recovered in this area during the early 20th century, including the Norwich Castle Museum, the Thetford Museum, the Sedgwick Museum (Cambridge) and the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Many of the Mesolithic finds are listed in (S11) and additional information is recorded in (S17).

Norwich Castle Museum:
Two entries in (S11) list material in the NCM: 29 blades/flakes from "East Wretham Heath" (associated with a reference to Dixon Hewitt's Site XLIV finds from north of Ringmere) and flints from "Wretham Heath". The latter are associated with a reference to Marr's report (S8) and it appears that of the finds listed, only 2 cores are actually in the NCM. It is likely that the other finds listed from "Wretham Heath" (an unspecified number of blades/flakes, 3 scrapers and 1 microlith) were actually identified from the publication. It is recorded in (S17) that Mesolithic finds from "Langmere" are present in the NCM's W. G. Clarke collection (NWHCM : 1926.32) and that finds from "Ringmere" (almost certainly from on or near Marr's site) are present in the Clarke Collection and the main H. Dixon Hewitt collection (NWHCM : 1922.39).

An examination of the NCM's collections in October 2014 identified 28 flints in the Dixon Hewitt Collection (NWHCM : 1922.39) that are from his Site XLIV, the majority of which are marked as having been found on East Wretham heath or near either Langmere or Ringmere. These flints include 2 end scrapers, 1 hollow scraper, 1 notched flake, 14 blades (of varying size) and 9 flakes. Several smaller, narrow blades are potentially Mesolithic, the other pieces are of less certain date. The potentially Mesolithic flints in the W. G. Clarke collection (NWHCM : 1926.32) include a broad blade marked "Langmere" and a backed bladelet from East Wretham Heath.

Other finds from this area in the NCM include an undated prehistoric flint flake from "Ringmere" that was part of the A. Q. Watson Collection (NWHCM : 1953.177.21).

Thetford Museum:
The Thetford Museum holds several Mesolithic flints from East Wretham Heath that were donated by H. Dixon Hewitt (THEHM : 1979.43). These are listed in (S11) as 2 blade/flake and 1 scraper and described in (S17). Both sources record that they are marked as being from Dixon Hewitt's Site XLIV, "E Wretham Heath, Nr. Ringmere, N of Drove 14.12.[19]29".

The Thetford Museum also holds a Mesolithic core from "Ringmere" that was found by W. G. Clarke (THEHM : 1979.27.7) this piece is listed in (S11) and described in (S17). This museum also holds a number of other Clarke finds from East Wretham heath, including 1 scraper (THEHM : 1978.579).

Sedgwick Museum.
It is noted in (S8) that Marr and King donated their finds from East Wretham Heath to the Sedgwick Museum. These finds appear to be split into two separate collections. The finds from the main site are listed in (S11) as 27 blades/flakes, 2 scrapers, 3 "miscellaneous implements" and 2 microliths. A separate group of finds from "Langmere is listed in (S11) as comprising 6 blades/flakes, 1 scraper, 2 "miscellaneous implements" and 1 microlith. These finds are also noted in (S17).
The finds from Langmere were previously recorded as NHER 13343.

Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology:
It is noted in (S17) that the CUMAA holds material from "East Wretham Heath (Marr's Site)", "Langmere" and "Ringmere". Some, if not all of these finds are material from Dixon Hewitt's Site XLIV. These finds are not listed in (S4) and their nature is unclear at present.

The finds from Ringmere in the CUMAA are noted by (S7) and were previously recorded as NHER 5973.

Other finds in the CUMAA that are probably from this area include a prehistoric flint hammerstone (1890.128) that was found by Colonel H. W. Feilden on "Wretham Heath" (presumably East Wretham Heath). This object is noted on (S7) and was apparently reported in (S18).
Previously recorded as NHER 5975.

Birmingham City Museum:
The Birmingham City Museum holds a later prehistoric flint scraper from "Langmere" (1929A6.4). This object is noted in (S19).
Previously recorded as NHER 19264.

British Museum:
The British Museum Sturge Collection includes 3 worked flints from this area; 1 blade from Wretham Heath (presumably East Wretham Heath) and 2 scrapers from "Langmere". Information from (S7). These blade is noted in (S20).
Scrapers previously recorded as NHER 5976.

RECENT EVENTS

1975. Site visit.
Now on well developed heath of Nature Reserve.
A. J. Lawson (NAU) 28 November 1975.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Prehistoric - 1000000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)

Associated Finds

  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • HAMMERSTONE (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT BOILER (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • BACKED BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BLADE (Early Mesolithic to Late Neolithic - 10000 BC? to 2351 BC)
  • BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • BLADE CORE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • CORE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • END SCRAPER (Early Mesolithic to Late Neolithic - 10000 BC? to 2351 BC)
  • END SCRAPER (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Early Mesolithic to Late Neolithic - 10000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • FLAKE (Early Mesolithic to Late Neolithic - 10000 BC? to 2351 BC)
  • FLAKE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • HOLLOW SCRAPER (Early Mesolithic to Late Neolithic - 10000 BC? to 2351 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Early Mesolithic to Late Neolithic - 10000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • MICROLITH (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • MICROLITH (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • MICROLITH (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • NOTCHED FLAKE (Early Mesolithic to Late Neolithic - 10000 BC? to 2351 BC)
  • RETOUCHED BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • SERRATED BLADE (Early Mesolithic to Early Neolithic - 10000 BC? to 3001 BC?)
  • SERRATED FLAKE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TL 98 NW 10 [2]; TL 98 NW 11.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card. NHERs 5971; NHER 5980; NHER 8994; NHER 19264.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>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. pp 26-27.
<S2>Article in Serial: Clark, W. G. 1909. A Week in Breckland. Transactions of the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists Society. Vol VIII Pt V (for 1908-1909) pp 677-683. p 683.
<S3>Article in Serial: Clarke, W. G. 1908. Some Recent Finds in Norfolk. Norfolk Antiquarian Miscellany. Second Series Pt 3 pp 94-107.
<S4>Serial: 1909. Knowledge & Illustrated Scientific News. Vol 32. p 219.
<S5>Article in Serial: Clarke, W. G. and Hewitt, H. D. 1914. An Early Norfolk Trackway: the 'drove' road. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. Vol I Pt IV (for 1913-14) pp 427-434. p 432.
<S6>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. p 400.
<S7>Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Neolithic. Wretham.
<S8>Article in Serial: Marr, J. E. 1913. A Late Palaeolithic Site on Wretham Heath, near Thetford. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. Vol I Pt III (for 1912-13) pp 374-377.
<S9>Article in Serial: Clarke, R. R. 1938. An Iron Age Hut at Postwick and an Earthwork on East Wretham Heath, Norfolk. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXVI Pt III pp 271-280. p 277.
<S10>Article in Serial: Clarke, R. R. 1939. The Iron Age in Norfolk and Suffolk. The Archaeological Journal. Vol XCVI pp 1-113. p 103.
<S11>Monograph: Wymer, J. J. and Bonsall, C. J. (eds). 1977. Gazetteer of Mesolithic Sites in England and Wales with a Gazetteer of Upper Palaeolithic Sites in England and Wales. Council for British Archaeology Research Report. No. 20. p 215.
<S12>Publication: Clarke, W. G. 1922. Our Homeland Prehistoric Antiquities: and how to study them. p 55.
<S13>Publication: Garrod, D. A. E. 1926. The Upper Palaeolithic Age in Britain. p 186.
<S14>Article in Monograph: Sainty, J. E. 1935. Norfolk Prehistory. Report of the Annual Meeting, 1935. Norwich, September 4-11. British Association for the Advancement of Science. Appendix pp 60-71. p 64.
<S15>Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Mesolithic.
<S16>Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Iron Age.
<S17>Archive: R. Jacobi. -. Jacobi Archive. 10218; 10219; 10291; 10323; 10324; 10325.
<S18>Serial: 1891. Cambridge University Reporter. p 496.
<S19>Article in Serial: Watson, P. J. et al. 1999. Antiquities from Norfolk in West Midlands Museums. Norfolk Archaeology. vol XLIII Pt II pp 332-338. p 334.
<S20>Publication: Smith, R. A. 1931. The Sturge Collection: an illustrated selection of flints from Britain bequeathed in 1919 by William Allen Sturge. p 127.

Related records - none

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