Record Details

NHER Number:27070
Type of record:Monument
Name:Possible medieval salt works


Possible medieval saltern mounds surrounded by angled ditches, and incorporated into a system of probably post medieval sea defence banks, visible as cropmarks on 1946 RAF vertical images. Finds scatter NHER 2188 is within this cropmark complex.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TF 5978 2313
Map Sheet:TF52SE

Full description

October 2002. Norfolk NMP.
What is going on here? There is a sub-rectangular to sub rounded area of light coloured or parched crop (TF 5997 2315), having a maximum diameter of 50m (S1), with a sub rounded to irregular dark coloured pit or feature at its centre. To the immediate southeast is a second irregular area of light coloured crop (TF 6000 2311), with a maximum length of 55m (S1). The mounds appear to be partially surrounded by a ditch or canalised channel, which has a rectangular, right-angled appearance on the northern and western sides (S1). There are a series of relatively straight linear features extending from (or to) the mounds towards the southwest, west and northwest. There is a singe narrow ditch extending towards the southwest, with an apparent narrow bank extending from the same point but diverging northwards, as they run towards the west. There are a further two fragmentary banks running parallel to these features, approximately 70m to the north. There are two banks running from the northern side of the northern mound, with one running northwards for a relatively short length while the other curves round towards the west and runs approximately westwards for 260m. Both of these banks have fragmentary narrow ditches on each side.
To the north is a second area of parching or mound (centre: TF 5989 2335) with a regular, angled appearance and a right angled ditch running around its south and western sides. There is a short length of curvilinear ditch running from the northwest corner of the mound round towards the west. Between the north and southern mound features is an extensive approximately east to west aligned 500m length of bank (TF 5997 2330 to TF 5948 2315) with a southern offshoot towards the western end.
This appears to be a complex site to which the above description does little justice.
The southern mound like feature at TF 5997 2315 is probably the remains of two saltern mounds, although they appear to have been truncated and incorporated into a system of later banks. It is possible, but less likely, that this was a natural mound on the saltmarsh. An assemblage of finds has been recovered from the site of this mound, recorded under NHER 2188. The record is unclear but it is possible that the finds are multi-period, with Roman, Saxon and Post-medieval wares recovered. And potential salt production at this location is likely to date from the medieval period, but these finds may attest to a long history of occupation at this particular point.
The northern feature may also be a saltern mound, but also appears to have been truncated into a more regular shape and incorporated into the system of saltmarsh bankage. Likewise, the location to the north of the Sea Bank (NHER 2187) suggests that any salt production at this location would be medieval in date. The mounds have then been incorporated into a system of earthen banks, that are all likely to represent late medieval and post medieval flood and sea defences. The curving nature of two of the banks within this site might suggest they each operated as the north-eastern tip of the sea defences at this point, the northern feature superseding the southern one as the land reclamation pushed away from the Sea Bank into The Wash. These were then probably superseded by a widespread system of banks, represented in this area by sea bank NHER 27209.
The mounds may have been utilised as platforms for buildings, a farmstead, coastal defences, lookouts or even as a small quayside or harbour. The southern mound appears to have had a multi-phase occupation, which may be related to salt processing, farming and fishing. Equally the finds might indicate a military or militia occupation of this strategic point in the 16th and 17th centuries, perhaps relating to the Armada or Civil War periods. There is a building depicted in the area of the southern mound on both Faden’s Map (S4) and the Ordnance Survey First Edition (S5). There is also a sluice depicted at this location on the Ordnance Survey First Edition (S5), and the area between the two mounds may well have operated as a channel to a sluice, draining the saltmarsh.
M. Brennand (NMP), 7 October 2002.

Monument Types

  • BANK (EARTHWORK) (Unknown date)
  • LINEAR FEATURE (Unknown date)
  • SALTERN? (Unknown date)
  • SEA DEFENCES? (Unknown date)
  • SALTERN? (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • SEA DEFENCES? (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status


Sources and further reading

<S1>Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1427 3128-9 16-APR-1946 (SMR TF 5922B).
<S2>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1989. OS/89052 466 27-MAR-1989.
<S3>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1943. RAF AC/161/140 5059-60 04-JAN-1943 (NMR).
<S4>Publication: Faden, W. and Barringer, J. C. 1989. Faden's Map of Norfolk in 1797.
<S5>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1810-20. Ordnance Survey First Edition 1 inch map. Sheet 69. Surveyed 1810-20.

Related records - none

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