Record Details

NHER Number:31296
Type of record:Monument
Name:Post medieval gunflint mines at Bromehill


Earthworks relating to post-medieval flint mining, probably for the production of gunflints, have been identified during site visits, and are visible on aerial photographs and imagery from a lidar survey flown in 2015. The earthworks take several different forms, with linear and curvilinear trenches being visible, as well as the pits, surrounded by horseshoe-shaped spoil heaps, that are regarded as typical of the industry. It is possible that flint mining also took place here in the prehistoric period, but there is only insubstantial evidence for this.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TL 8047 8852
Map Sheet:TL88NW

Full description

1995. Area of earthworks located by C. Pendleton (SAU) after report from Forestry Commission.
Identified as flint mines, perhaps 19th century; traces of gunflint working scattered about. Also some prehistoric flints but this probably coincidence. Earthwork bank noted along track through centre, but this may be simply a pre-afforestation field boundary.
See field notes in file.
E. Rose (NAU), 7 July 1995.

April 1999. The site was inspected on 28th April with Nick Gibbins, the Conservation Officer of Forest Enterprise who had noted some linear ridges and depressions on the edge of the area of flint mines.
The slumped shafts as noted by Colin Pendleton in 1995 were identified, as were many shallow near-circular depressions which may be earlier examples. In the northeast segment of the site area a series of ridges and depressions superficially like medieval ridge and furrow. At least four parallel north to south ridges, around 8 m wide and around 0.6 m high and around 30 m long, abut at their northern end a more curving east to west ridge with flanking depressions. Some disturbance to several depressions may be the result of infill from the flint mines, and possible continuations of the features soon merge into more irregular, natural looking undulations. The linear features appear to pre-date the flint mine shafts, although not necessarily by much. Their function is unclear. They might be some form of trenching to find suitable flint, or ridge and furrow as suggested. If the latter, what is it doing on light, sandy soils with no drainage problem??
Survey to be considered once the thinning of trees has been completed, probably winter 1999/2000.
B. Cushion (NLA), April 1999.

Forest Enterprise officers have agreed that no replanting will take place on the mines. Care will be taken in the use of machinery during felling/extracting work.
No ground disturbance will be caused.
H. Paterson (A&E), 11 January 2000.

July 2017. 'Brecks from Above' and Breckland National Mapping Programme.
The earthworks described above, probably all of which relate to post-medieval flint mining for the gunflint industry, are visible on aerial photographs (S1)-(S2) and imagery from a recent lidar survey (S3). The extent of the site has been expanded, to take in all the features visible on the lidar imagery [1].
As described above, several different forms of earthwork are visible. At the eastern end of the site, the remains are dominated by pits surrounded by a 'horseshoe' of spoil; such pits are regarded as typical of the post-medieval gunflint industry, and are known from many other sites in Breckland, including Lingheath at Brandon (SHER BRD 066). As at Lingheath, some of the mines may have remained in use into the 20th century; the earthworks that make up the easternmost group (at TL 8082 8870) appear to still be relatively fresh on 1940s aerial photographs (S1). A more extensive area, encompassing the central and northernmost portions of the site, is dominated by linear and curvilinear (or 'undulating') trenches, many of which appear to comprise chains of conjoined pits at their base. These may represent a different, perhaps earlier method of mining, or, as suggested above, prospecting for new sources of flint. Their size and limited extent means that they are unlikely to represent ridge and furrow. Towards the western end of the site, the earthworks become more insubstantial and less well-defined, and may be at least partially of natural origin.
The areas of mining have been mapped by extent. The bank described above is now recorded as part of NHER 61537.
S. Tremlett (Norfolk Historic Environment Service), 24 July 2017.

Monument Types

  • (Former Type) RIDGE AND FURROW (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FLINT MINE (Post Medieval to 21st Century - 1540 AD to 2100 AD?)
  • LITHIC WORKING SITE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • GUNFLINT (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 NW M [2].
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF/106G/LA/227 FS 2129-2130 17-APR-1945 (HEA Original Print).
<S2>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. OS/71216 V 019-020 14-MAY-1971 (HEA Original Print).
<S3>LIDAR Airborne Survey: Various. LIDAR Airborne Survey. LIDAR Santon Forest Research 0.5m DTM 15-JUL-2015 (BNG Project, FC England, Fugro Geospatial).

Related records - none

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