Record Details

NHER Number:33214
Type of record:Monument
Name:Possible 16th century fort


A banked enclosure and an earthwork platform survive in the northeastern part of Cow Holme marsh. They are visible on aerial photographs taken in 1946 and 1973. Their date and origin are uncertain but it has been suggested that they might be the remains of Black Joy Fort, a fort which appears on map dating to 1588.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 0468 4510
Map Sheet:TG04NW

Full description

Earthworks noted in marsh; remains of stone wall and brick floor seen. Suggested as remains of Black Joy Fort, 1588.
Destroyed by floods 1953.
See (S1) which gives detailed map.
For discussion of Armada defences see NHER 11335, also NHER 6245 with which there is some confusion.
E. Rose (NLA), 7 November 1997.

See also (S2) for full consideration of this fort.

March 2003. Visit.
Area under thick tufty grass, no masonry observed, but earthwork banks visible. Area is not grazed, but saltmarsh part of wildlife reserve.
H. Paterson (A&E), 2 April 2004.

Norfolk NMP. October 2002.
Earthwork banks are visible on RAF 1946 (S3) aerial photographs and Ordnance Survey 1973 (S4 to S5) images in the area of marsh on the channel side of the sea defences on Cley Eye (NHER 27083). The southern most point of the complex is located at TG 0466 4513 from here a bank runs north to TG 0466 4514 before turning east to reach TG0468 4514, it then heads north to TG0468 4520. Here there is a bank that crosses it approximately aligned east to west - NGR TG 0467 4520 to TG0470 4520. Just to the north another bank runs from TG0469 4521 north to TG 0469 4522, then east to TG 0474 4523.
The date and origin of these earthworks are uncertain, but it has been previously suggested that they might be the remains of Black Joy Fort (of date 1588). Although on the ground these remains were apparently destroyed by the 1953 floods, the earthwork banks can still be seen on the Ordance Survey 1973 (S4 to S5) aerial photographs and appear the same as the remains in evidence on earlier the RAF 1946 (S3) images. It also appears from the aerial photographs that the earthworks may continue a little to the south, but these are indistinct, and so have not been plotted. However, a sketch plan of the earthworks made in 1951 (S6) prior to the floods of 1953 supports this.
Further discussion on the location of Black Joy Fort is contained within (S1), including a map of the Armada fortifications at Weybourne Hope (S7). This shows a large fort, and defences running all along the edge of the marshes to Black Joy Fort - shown as somewhere in the region of Cley Eye or Blakeney Eye; it is apparent from his discussion that (S1) prefers Cley as a location. (See also NHER 11335 for related armada defences at Weybourne Hope). (S1) also includes the sketch plan of the earthworks made in 1951 prior to the floods of 1953 (S6). In addition to this Bryant’s 1826 map (S8) has Cley Old Walls marked in this vicinity.
It is difficult to determine exactly from the aerial photographs the origin and purpose of these earthworks, but in line with previous discussion it seems possible that these remains are that of Black Joy Fort.
H. Clare (NMP), 17 October 2002.

May-November 2004. Norfolk Rapid Coastal Zone Archaeological Survey.
Inter-tidal survey (Environmental Zone 11), Context 922:
A sinuous ditch and bank were found in Cow Hole saltmarsh, to the north of Cley village and west of the Glaven channel (between TG 04641 44993 and TG 04688 45222). They defined a roughly rectangular raised area measuring 170m north to south by 50m east to west These earthworks may be shown on a map dating to 1769 (S9 and S10) and were recorded in 1951 by [1] (S6). The 1953 floods did not destroy them as once thought. They could be the remains of 'Black Joy forte', a fort shown on a map from 1588 (S7 and S11) and proposed as a defence against the Spanish Armada.
See assessment report (S12) for further details.
The associated archive has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2017.421).
J. Allen (NLA), 20 April 2005. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 21 July 2019.

Monument Types

  • EARTHWORK (Unknown date)
  • FLOOR (Unknown date)
  • WALL (Unknown date)
  • EARTHWORK (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FORT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status


Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1995. OS/95567 128-9 21-JUN-1995 (SMR).
---Article in Serial: Massey, S., Brennand, M. and Clare, H. 2003. The National Mapping Programme in Norfolk, 2001-3. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIV Pt II pp 335-344. p 341.
<S1>Monograph: Hooton, J.. 1997. The Glaven ports: a maritime history of Blakeney, Cley and Wiveton in North Norfolk.. p 114.
<S2>Publication: Kent, P. 1988. Fortifications of East Anglia. p 179.
<S3>Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1701 3065-6 27-AUG-1946 (Norfolk SMR TG 0544A & TG 0444A).
<S4>Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1973. OS/73212 023 01-JUN-1973 (SMR).
<S5>Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1973. OS/73256 080-1 06-JUN-1973 (SMR).
<S6>Monograph: Hooton, J.. 1997. The Glaven ports: a maritime history of Blakeney, Cley and Wiveton in North Norfolk.. p 114. p 114.
<S7>Monograph: Hooton, J.. 1997. The Glaven ports: a maritime history of Blakeney, Cley and Wiveton in North Norfolk.. p 114. p 111.
<S8>Map: Bryant, A.. 1826. Bryant's Map of Norfolk.
<S9>Map: 1769. Map of Cley and Blakeney.
<S10>Unpublished Document: Ringwood, I.. 2003. NSCS 3 - Norfolk and Suffolk Coastal Survey - Documentary Evidence - Norfolk.
<S11>Article in Serial: O'Neil, B. H. St.J. 1940. The Fortification of Weybourne Hope in 1588. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXVII Pt II pp 250-262.
<S12>Unpublished Contractor Report: Robertson, D., Crawley, P., Barker, A., and Whitmore, S. 2005. Norfolk Rapid Coastal Zone Archaeological Survey. Assessment Report and Updated Project Design. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 1045.

Related records - none

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