Record Details

NHER Number:4322
Type of record:Monument
Name:Medieval mound at Ashtree Farm


A mound, which survives as an earthwork, has been demonstrated by small-scale excavation to be of probable medieval date. It has been mapped from aerial photographs. Its function is not known. The excavators (and others) suggested that it might have been associated with salt making. There is little direct evidence of this, however, and it might equally have been the site of a marsh farm, or a refuge for livestock. The precise function of mounds identified elsewhere in Halvergate Marshes is equally enigmatic, including that of a possible mound located only 45m to the southwest of the one recorded here (NHER 43488). A pillbox was constructed on the mound during World War One (NHER 18493), presumably to take advantage of both its height and the drier ground.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 5051 0900
Map Sheet:TG50NW

Full description

Formerly Acle detached parish.
Ashtree Farm, north side of Acle New Road one mile west of Yarmouth. Long mound on marshes. Trial sections by Morris and Rumbelow, levelling by Larwood.
Beneath the mound was a layer of slag (?from wood fires) found containing coarse pottery from the 11th to 13th centuries. Same type of pottery also found below slag layer at 1m (3.3ft) below modern sea level. Top of mound 1m (3.1 ft) OD.
Possibly connected with medieval salt pan. (shells. R. R. Clarke.).

R. R. Clarke (NCM).

See report and drawings in file (S1).

(S2) says: 'These finds illustrate possibility that the marshes, west of Yarmouth had become dry land in early medieval times, or at any rate were dry during part of the year.'
R. R. Clarke (NCM).

A. Gregory (NAU) notes that in 1987 the present owners of Ashtree Farm believe that it was the mound at NHER 18493 that was excavated, and not this site. Is this just a case of the extant mound at 18493 attracting the story, or is Clarke's location wrong?
E. Rose (NAU), 11 December 1987.

No, it was NAU plotting that was at fault. The pillbox NHER 18493 does stand on top of mound NHER 4322. See (S3)

March 2003.
Mound about 95m east to west,and about 43m north to south. Possible entrance ramp to east leading to ?causeway about 0.5m high (maximum). Possible narrow ditch to south. A few old trees here, mostly dead. Grazed by horses. Owner may consider some tree planting. Have asked that this may be carried out adjacent to rather than on the mound.
H. Paterson (A&E), 2 April 2003.

April 2006. Norfolk NMP.
NMP mapping has led to the alteration of the central grid reference of the site from TG 505 090 to TG 5052 0901.

The medieval mound described above, together with the ditches that surround it and a causeway leading away from its northeast end, is visible as an earthwork on aerial photographs (S4)-(S8). It is also depicted as a separate field on Acle Tithe Map (S9). The surrounding ditches join to drains depicted on historic Ordnance Survey maps, e.g. (S10), and on the Tithe Map (NHER 43489), and are themselves partially depicted on these maps. This gives the impression of the mound being an early feature, incorporated into a later drainage pattern, the ditches perhaps having been redug or even freshly excavated for use as drains. The supports the medieval date for the mound suggested by the pottery recovered during its excavation.

The function of the mound is enigmatic, and there is little evidence for it having been associated with salt making. Certainly, it seems unlikely to be a saltern mound of the type found in great numbers around the Wash (at South Wootton, for example) which were formed from the waste products of a medieval salt industry that utilised the sand-washing process (see Grady 1998 (S11) for a description). The elongated and regular appearance of the mound and the presence of side ditches are atypical of such features. More significantly, the mound was largely composed of clay (S1), rather than the silty sand that might be expected at a sand-washing waste site. It could have perhaps supported a domestic and/or processing site associated with an open salt pan, where brine was processed by boiling or by evaporation, or by a combination of both. This method is implied in Lark’s account of salt pan sites in the marsh (S12). There is, however, no direct evidence of this, and, as Williamson (1997, (S13)) points out, the site could equally be a marsh farm, or even a refuge for cattle or other livestock, although the recovery of domestic material from the mound argues against the latter interpretation.

As visible on the aerial photographs, the mound is a fairly regular oval in shape. It measures approximately 91m long and 41.5m wide. A probable causeway, which may or may not be contemporary with the mound, projects for 42m from its northeast end. The side ditches project for some distance to the northeast and southwest of the mound, where they join to drains depicted on modern and historic maps. At its southwest end the southern ditch connects to the ditch surrounding a possible second mound, NHER 43488.
S. Tremlett (NMP), 7 April 2006.

Monument Types

  • CAUSEWAY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • DITCH (Medieval - 1066 AD? to 1539 AD?)
  • DRAINAGE DITCH (Medieval - 1066 AD? to 1539 AD?)
  • FARMSTEAD? (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • MOUND (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • SALT WORKS? (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • SALTERN? (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • SETTLEMENT? (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CAUSEWAY (Post Medieval to 21st Century - 1540 AD? to 2100 AD?)
  • DITCH (Post Medieval to 21st Century - 1540 AD? to 2100 AD?)
  • DRAINAGE DITCH (Post Medieval to 21st Century - 1540 AD? to 2100 AD?)

Associated Finds

  • KILN WASTE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 50 NW 31.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Monograph: Lambert, J.M. & Jennings, J.N.. 1960. The Making of the Broads: A Reconsideration of their Origin in the Light of New Evidence.. p 131.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Yarmouth (Great).
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Unpublished Document: Rumbelow, P. E. R.. 1948?. The Hillock at Ash Tree Farm.
<S2>Publication: Stairs, J.A.. 1953. The Sea Coast. p.217. p 217.
<S3>Article in Serial: Lark, A.. 1990. Havens and Marshes of Yarmouth.. Yarmouth Archaeology. p 18. p 18.
<S4>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1944. RAF 106G/LA/21 4005-6 04-JUL-1944 (NMR).
<S5>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1964. RAF 58/6522 (F21) 0018-9 01-OCT-1964 (NMR).
<S6>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1970. OS/70089 007-8 04-MAY-1970 (NMR).
<S7>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1980. NHER TG 5009A (NLA 78/ANJ7) 09-JUN-1980.
<S8>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1989. OS/89047 330-1 18-MAR-1989 (NMR).
<S9>Map: Lenny, I.. 1838. Acle Tithe Map. No scale.
<S10>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902-1907. Ordnance Survey second edition 25" (1902-7) Sheet LXVI. 14. 25" to 1'.
<S11>Article in Monograph: Grady, D.M.. 1998. Medieval and Post-Medieval Salt Extraction in North-East Lincolnshire.. Lincolnshire's Archaeology from the Air. Bewley, R.H. (ed.). pp 81-95.
<S12>Article in Serial: Lark, A.. 1990. Havens and Marshes of Yarmouth.. Yarmouth Archaeology. p 18. pp 16-18.
<S13>Monograph: Williamson, T.. 1997. The Norfolk Broads: A Landscape History.. pp 46-47.

Related records

18493Related to: World War One pillbox to north of Acle New Road, Great Yarmouth (Monument)

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