Record Details

NHER Number:9257
Type of record:Monument
Name:Neolithic flint mining and axe-production site, multi-period finds and post medieval lime kiln

Summary

Fieldwalking undertaken at this site in the early 20th century recovered extensive evidence for Neolithic flint mining and axe-production. Large quantities of Neolithic worked flint were recovered, including a notable number of unfinished axeheads.

A range of other finds have been recovered in these fields including two Palaeolithic handaxes, several Mesolithic objects, a Roman pin and Roman and Middle Saxon pottery sherds.

A post medieval lime kiln has also been recorded on the site.

Images

  • A possible Lower Palaeolithic axe roughout from Great Melton  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service

Location

Grid Reference:TG 14 08
Map Sheet:TG10NW
Parish:GREAT MELTON, SOUTH NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

Fieldwalking undertaken in the early 20th century identified evidence for Neolithic flint mining and axe-production at this site.

THE SITE AND ITS DISCOVERY

In 1916 an extensive scatter of worked flints was identified by W. G. Clarke, H. H. Halls and J. E. Sainty in the fields to the north and east of Algarsthorpe Farm (NHER 49710). A short report on these discoveries was published the following year (S1). At the western end of the scatter a discontinuous layer of flints was exposed in a large chalk pit (centred at TG 1444 0887), at one point concentrated into a “…solid mass of cores and flakes, the latter ranging in size from huge specimens to quite minute pieces”. It was suggested that this modern pit had disturbed “…an ancient pit from which flints were obtained”. The remainder of the flints were found scattered across five large fields, a large area with “…a river frontage of half a mile [800m] and a depth of a quarter of a mile [400m]”. The flints were most abundant in the field to the east of the pit, but were also recovered from another field adjacent to the pit and from the area between Algarsthorpe and the river. Two other potentially ancient pits were identified, including one in the field to the east of the chalk pit, which was associated with evidence of flint working.

See published article for full details and file notes, (S2) and (S3) for additional summaries.

THE NEOLITHIC FLINT ASSEMBLAGE

The flints recovered were originally described as predominantly “Cissbuy Type” by Clarke and Halls (S1), who suggested that a second, later industry was also present (based on the presence of unpatinated pieces and a number of rechipped patinated “Cissbury Type” implements). A wide range of objects are described in (S1), including cores, axeheads, scrapers, knives, borers, a small adze and a number of other implements. A selection of these objects are illustrated in (S1) and the HES holds four of the original drawings (S5), (S6) (S7) (S8).

A significant proportion of the flints recovered at this site were subsequently donated to the Norwich Castle Museum by the three finders. The Neolithic flints in these collections are listed in (S3), in which a number of pieces are illustrated (the original drawings are now held by the HES).

The flints donated by W. G. Clarke (Site 32; NWHCM : 1926.32) include:
Many flakes, 53 cores, 1 leaf-shaped arrowhead (S8), 2 transverse petit-tranchet derivative arrowhweads (S9) (S10), 3 long-pointed awls (S11), 3 long-pointed piercers, 4 ‘notches’ (S12), 1 waisted core tool, 4 tranchet tools, 3 ‘fabricators’, 1 chopper, 1 fragmentary polished flint axehead, 5 flaked flint axeheads (4 with tapered butts, 1 with squared butt), 3 fragmentary flint axeheads (1 with tapered butt and 2 with rounded butts), 2 picks and 20 indeterminate bifacially flaked fragments.

The material donated by Halls (Site 42; NWHCM : 1924.83.42) includes:
Many cores (some massive), many scrapers, various miscellaneous retouched flakes, 2 flat bificially flaked fragments (?unfinished large projectile points), 10 piercers (7 long-pointed), 1 plano-convex knife (S13), 1 ‘fabricator’, 1 tranchet tool (S14), 1 flaked flint axehead with tapering butt, 8 fragmentary flaked flint axeheads (7 with tapering butts) (S15), 4 whole and 3 fragmentary axehead roughouts, 1 flake from a polished tool, 3 picks and 6 indeterminate bifacially flaked fragments.

Other material in the Halls collection (NWHCM : 1924.83) that was probably also from this site includes:
2 long-pointed awls, 2 flaked flint adzes and 1 tapering butt from axe/adze.

A small number of the flints that Halls recovered at this site are also held by the Birmingham Museum (Bir 1928A16.42). These finds from “Melton” are listed in (S16) as:
1 Late Prehistoric small axehead roughout, 1 borer, 2 cores and 1 worked flint of unspecified type.
These finds were previously also recorded as NHER 39494.

Healy noted that the assemblage includes the tools and large debitage that would typically be found on flint mining and axe-production sites . The preponderance of broken over whole axeheads also supports the suggestion that axes were being manufactured here. Healy described the material she examined as being of predominantly Later Neolithic character, rejecting the bipartite division suggested by Halls and Clarke (S3).

PALAEOLITHIC FINDS

Although the bulk of the material recovered during the early 20th century is clearly of Neolithic date, it appears that a small number of earlier prehistoric worked flints were also found at this site.

According to (S17) a Palaeolithic handaxe found by J. E. Sainty in Great Melton during the 1930s was recovered from “…the same field as the Neolithic mining site”. This is described and illustrated in (S18) and was subsequently donated to the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 1959.46). The museum holds a second handaxe found by Sainty in Great Melton, but the exact provenance of this piece is uncertain (see NHER 9255).

The NCM also holds a Palaeolithic handaxe that was found in Great Melton by W. G. Clarke (NWHCM : 1926.32.32), which, based on its accession number, almost certainly came from this site (although it was previously recorded under NHER 9255, along with other unprovenanced Palaeolithic material from Great Melton). This object was exhibited by Clarke at a meeting of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia in February 1921 and described as "…an ochreous axe of St. Achuel date, form a gravel hill in the Yare Valley" (S19). This handaxe is also probably the isolated find of "St Acheul-Clactonian" date from Great Melton mentioned in (S20). Information from (S17). It is also mentioned in (S18) which clearly states that it was found in the same location as the handaxe recovered here by J. E. Sainty. According to (S18) both had been "…turned up by the plough from the gravel subsoil". It is noted on (S17) that the NCM Clarke Collection also includes a Palaeolithic flake from Great Melton.

It is possible that a single Palaeolithic flake in the H. H. Halls collection at the NCM was also recovered at this site, although this is less certain. See NHER 9255 for further details.

The above objects are amongst the five Palaeolithic objects from Great Melton listed in (S21), which identifies one of the four handaxes from the parish as a roughout, rather than a finished implement (unfortunately it is not clear which this is). Sainty’s handaxe is illustrated in (S22) and described by Wymer as a sharp of form JK e/v and 7cm long. See copy of original drawing held by HES (S30). Wymer described the other handaxes (one of which was Clarke’s find) as two very rolled handaxes (type JK e/v, 9cm long and type JN, 9.5cm long) and a sharp roughout (13.5cm long).

The Palaeolithic finds from this site are also noted in (S23) and (S24), although no additional information is given.

MESOLITHIC FINDS

It appears that the site also produced at least some objects of Mesolithic date, although the size of this Mesolithic component is not entirely clear. For a time it was clearly thought that much of the material was of Mesolithic character. The flints from this site were, for example, listed on (S25) as a “flint industry of Mesolithic tradition” and the assemblage were described in (S26) as having with “..no type of exclusively Neolithic character”. Although in (S26) attention was drawn to the tools with tranchet cutting edges, these appear to be mostly crude triangular implements of a kind that have now been identified in a number of Neolithic assemblages (S27). It therefore seem likely that the number of true Mesolithic objects from the site is actually quite small. It is however noted in (S28) that one of the (?illustrated) objects described in (S1) is probably Mesolithic, although its form is not specified. Accoring to (S25) the NCM's H. H. Halls Collection (NWHCM : 1924.83) includes a Mesolithic tranchet adze that came from this site. The NCM also holds a flaked flint axe found at this site by J. E. Sainty (NWHCM : 1959.63) that was identified by R. Jacobi as a Mesolithic medium tranchet axe (S29). It is possibly that these are the two unprovenanced tranchet axes from “Melton” (apparently both held by the NCM) that are listed in (S28).

RECENT DISCOVERIES

1978.
Neolithic flints found.
Lime kiln marked on (S1). This ceased working in 1934 and was buried in 1950. There was an associated narrow gauge railway.

1982.
Prehistoric, Middle Saxon sherds found.

1983.
Weights and bell found.

1984.
Roman pin and sherds, Middle Saxon sherds.
For full details and drawings (S2) see file.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Unknown date)
  • FINDSPOT (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • FLINT MINE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • LITHIC WORKING SITE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)
  • LIME KILN (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • RAILWAY (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • BELL (Undated)
  • WEIGHT (Undated)
  • BORER (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • CORE (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC? to 40001 BC?)
  • FLAKE (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • ROUGHOUT (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • TRANCHET AXEHEAD (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • TRANCHET AXEHEAD (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • ADZE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • AWL (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • AWL (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • AXEHEAD ROUGHOUT (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • BORER (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • BORER (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • BORER (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • CHOPPER (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • CORE (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • CORE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • CORE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • FABRICATOR (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • FLAKE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • FLAKED AXEHEAD (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • FLAKED AXEHEAD (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • FLAKED AXEHEAD? (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • LAUREL LEAF (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • LEAF ARROWHEAD (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • NOTCHED FLAKE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • PICK (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • POINT? (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • POLISHED AXEHEAD (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • POLISHED AXEHEAD (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • RETOUCHED FLAKE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • TRANSVERSE ARROWHEAD (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • WORKED OBJECT (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FABRICATOR (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • FLAKED AXEHEAD (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • PICK (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • PLANO CONVEX KNIFE (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • POLISHED AXEHEAD (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • ROUGHOUT (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • PIN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Archive: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 10 NW 3.
---Archive: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
<S1>Article in Serial: Clarke, W. G and Halls, H. H. 1917. A 'Cisbury Type' Station at Great Melton. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. Vol II Pt III (for 1916-17) pp 374-80.
<S1>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1824-1836. Ordnance Survey First Edition 1 inch..
<S2>Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Neolithic. Melton (Great).
<S3>Thesis: Healy, F.. 1978. The Neolithic in Norfolk. pp 468-473.
<S4>Illustration: Lingwood, E. T. c. 1917. Drawing of a Neolithic flaked flint axehead from Great Melton. Card.
<S5>Illustration: Lingwood, E. T. c. 1917. Drawing of a Neolithic flaked flint axehead roughout from Great Melton. Card.
<S6>Illustration: Lingwood, E. T. c. 1917. Drawing of a Neolithic triangular flint implement from Great Melton. Card.
<S7>Illustration: Lingwood, E. T. c. 1917. Drawing of a Neolithic flaked flint axehead roughout from Great Melton. Card.
<S8>Illustration: Healy, F. pre 1978. Drawing of a Neolithic leaf-shaped flint arrowhead from Great Melton. Film. 1:1.
<S9>Illustration: Healy, F. pre 1978. Drawing of a Neolithic transverse petit-tranchet derivative flint arrowhead from Great Melton. Film. 1:1.
<S10>Illustration: Healy, F. pre 1978. Drawing of a Neolithic transverse petit-tranchet derivative flint arrowhead from Great Melton. Film. 1:1.
<S11>Illustration: Healy, F. pre 1978. Drawing of a Neolithic long-pointed flint awl from Great Melton. Film. 1:1.
<S12>Illustration: Healy, F. pre 1978. Drawing of a Neolithic notched flake from Great Melton. Film. 1:1.
<S13>Illustration: Healy, F. pre 1978. Drawing of a Neolithic plano-conve flint knife from Great Melton. Film. 1:1.
<S14>Illustration: Healy, F. pre 1978. Drawing of a Neolithic flint tranchet tool from Great Melton. Film. 1:1.
<S15>Illustration: Healy, F. pre 1978. Drawing of a Neolithic flaked flint axehead with tapering butt from Great Melton. Film. 1:1.
<S16>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.
<S17>Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Palaeolithic.
<S18>Article in Serial: Sainty, J. E. 1935. Three Combe-Capelle Hand-axes from Norfolk. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. Vol I pp 98-100. p 100; Fig 2.
<S19>Article in Serial: 1921. Summary of Proceedings. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. Vol III Pt III (for 1920-21) pp 463-467. p 464.
<S20>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 63-64, 67.
<S21>Monograph: Roe, D. A. 1968. A Gazetteer of British Lower and Middle Palaeolithic Sites. CBA Research Report. No 8. p 231.
<S22>Publication: Wymer, J. J. 1985. Palaeolithic Sites of East Anglia. p 57.
<S23>Unpublished Document: Wessex Archaeology. 1997. The English Rivers Palaeolithic Project. Regions 8 (East Anglian Rivers) and 11 (Trent Drainage). W&Y-3, No.7.
<S24>Website: TERPS online database. Site 22611.
<S25>Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Mesolithic.
<S26>Publication: Clark, J. G. D. 1932. The Mesolithic Age in Britain. p 114.
<S27>Publication: Butler, C. 2005. Prehistoric Flintwork. p 174.
<S28>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 206.
<S29>Archive: R. Jacobi. -. Jacobi Archive. 10253.
<S30>Illustration: Wymer, J. J. Drawings of a Palaeolithic flint Levallois flake from Great Witchingham, a small handaxe from Great Melton and a handaxe from Suffolk. Card. 1:1.

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