Record Details

NHER Number:45375
Type of record:Monument
Name:Medieval wall, Norwich Cathedral


Excavations to the rear of the refectory, Norwich School, in 2006 revealed a toppled medieval flint and mortar wall which would have stood at least 4 metres high. This is a substantial wall, and it seems likely it was built following the expansion of the cathedral precinct by Bishop Salmon in 1318. A wall of this nature, in this location, is likely to have been an internal division of the precinct, separating the Bishops' palace from the lay areas to the west. This wall appears to have survived the decline of the Reformation and have remained standing at least until the 17th century. Finds recovered during the excavation include a Middle Saxon brooch and Late Saxon pottery, indicating activity in this area prior to the foundation of Norwich Cathedral.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 23435 09016
Map Sheet:TG20NW

Full description

August 2006. Excavation.
An archaeological excavation was undertaken within the precinct of Norwich Cathedral, in close proximity to the former Bishops' Palace, now part of Norwich School. The excavation revealed the remains of a substantial flint and mortar wall, comparable in size to the precinct wall itself. It is likely that the wall was built following the expansion of the precinct by Bishop Salmon in 1318, acting as the boundary between the Bishop's Palace and the lay areas to the west. The wall was not upstanding but had toppled onto its side. The wall covered almost all of the excavation area, and (assuming that part would have been underground) it would have been at least 4m high when standing. The construction method, fabric and size of the wall all suggest a medieval date, although it lacks diagnostic features or stratigraphic associations needed to date it more precisely. The remains of the wall were topped by a pantile coping, suggesting that it was still in use in the 17th century, and therefore, unlike other buildings associated with the Bishops' Palace, it survived the decline brought about by the Reformation. Cartographic sources suggest this wall was demolished in the early 18th century, probably as part of a larger scale programme of landscaping and reordering within the cathedral close. Although it is impossible to precisely reconstruct the alignment of this wall it is likely that it ran from the slight dog-leg in the Palace Street precinct wall to somewhere near the north-west corner of de Losinga's tower.
As the wall covered much of the excavated area, little evidence for other activity was recorded. Two later features were noted, one a post-medieval pit containing brick and tile, and the other an ovoid steep-sided pit perhaps dug to act as a soakaway. The ovoid pit contained medieval bricks, a medieval glazed floor tile and post medieval roof tiles. Two limestone architectural fragments were also recovered from this pit, along with post medieval pottery, fragments of clay pipe (one including a complete bowl) and a single sherd of Late Saxon Thetford ware.
Unstratified finds from the site included large quantities of animal bone and medieval and post medieval ceramic building material. 28 sherds of unstratified pottery were recovered and dated from the Late Saxon, medieval and post medieval periods. Other finds include a Middle Saxon equal armed brooch (recovered by metal detector during machining) and a post medieval sandstone hone stone. Finds dating from the Middle and Late Saxon periods are further evidence for activity in this area prior to the foundation of the cathedral in 1096.
See report (S1) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S2).
The associated archive has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2017.112).
A. Cattermole (NLA), 9 November 2007.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PRECINCT WALL? (Medieval to 18th Century - 1066 AD to 1799 AD?)
  • WALL (Medieval to 18th Century - 1066 AD to 1799 AD?)
  • FINDSPOT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • PIT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • SOAKAWAY (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Unknown date)
  • METAL WORKING DEBRIS (Unknown date)
  • OYSTER SHELL (Unknown date)
  • BROOCH (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)
  • POT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PIPE (SMOKING) (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WHETSTONE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Unpublished Contractor Report: Watkins, P. J. 2007. An Archaeological Excavation at the Norwich School Refectory, Norwich, Norfolk. NAU Archaeology. 1210.
<S2>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 2007. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk in 2006. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLV Pt II pp 261-273. p 268.

Related records

377Part of: Cathedral Close (cathedral precinct) (Monument)

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