Record Details

NHER Number:53706
Type of record:Monument
Name:Ditches and pit features possibly associated with nearby Saltern


In 2006 a geophysical survey revealed a number of ditch and pit type features, which are probably associated with a nearby postulated medieval saltern (NHER 19694). In 2008 trial trenching in this area revealed evidence for a series of timber frames that may have formed a revetment or breakwater structure. With the exception of a single sherds of mid-12th to early 13th century Stamford ware the majority of the pottery was Grimston-type ware of 13th to 14th century date.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TF 4876 1647
Map Sheet:TF41NE

Full description

September 2006. Geophysical Survey.
Magetometry survey undertaken prior to proposed expansion of electricity substation (Area 2).
This area revealed a number of anomalies relating to ditches and pits that may represent a small enclosure apended to the nearby medieval saltern (NHER 19694).
See report (S1) for further details.
S. Howard (NLA), 4 December 2009.

January 2008. Trial Trenching.
Evaluation of site of proposed substation extension (Area 2; Trenches 1-6).
The evaluation revealed a number of features and deposits towards the northern edge of the site relating to late medieval saltworking. The remains included evidence for a series of timber frames that may have formed a revetment or breakwater structure but no in-situ timbers were recovered. The remains are potentially of regional significance as the production of salt was a main fenland industry until the drainage works in the 17th century. The clearest dating evidence was taken from the pottery assemblage and a single sherd of mid-12th to early 13th century Stamford ware may have residual or represented the earlier phase of activity at the site. The majority of the pottery was Grimston-type ware of 13th to 14th century date.
See report (S2) for further details.
S. Howard (NLA), 7 December 2009.

April-August 2009. Excavation and Watching Brief.
Excavation in advance of an extension to an electricity substation investigated a possible medieval saltern identified by evaluation in 2008. The earliest levels comprise extensive layers of clays, silts and sands largely representing saltmarsh development post-dating the Iron Age and Roman periods. A sea-bank was constructed to the east pf the site during the Late Saxon period, but the first definite activity on the site dates to the 13th to 14th centuries.

A large curving channel or creek extended across the site. The earliest evidence of saltworking comprised a large rectangular tank, associated with at least two phases of revetment. The latter took the form of a timber slot and a number of post-holes designed to stabilise the inner 'working' bank of the channel. Following a possible period of abandonment further phases of revetment were constructed, possibly of mid-15th- to 17th-century date. Contemporary with these were several pits, tanks, troughs and channels. The final phase of activity, with pits, a probable filtration tank and a possible hearth, appears to date to the late 18th/19th centuries, although this is at odds with the known history of the site, which was enclosed and drained in the late 18th century, and the documented decline of the industry in the late medieval period.

The features, deposits and associated finds appear to represent sporadic, low-level saltworking and channel management on the edge of the saltmarsh. Relatively few medieval salterns have been excavated or published within the region and in Norfolk, making this site of local and regional significance.

The excavation of a new drainage dyke to the east of the excavated area was also monitored (Ditch A). Waterlain silts were noted, overlain by material that may have been the bases of channels aligned north-west to south-east. A number of 19th-century pottery sherds were recovered from the topsoil.
Final report awaited. See assessment report (S3) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S4).
D. Holburn (HES), 19 September 2011. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 26 August 2015.

Monument Types

  • DITCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD?)
  • DRAINAGE DITCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval to 19th Century - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • SALTERN (Late, 13th Century to 16th Century - 1300 AD to 1539 AD?)
  • FINDSPOT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • SALTERN (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • DEBITAGE (Unknown date)
  • POT (12th Century to 13th Century - 1150 AD to 1250 AD)
  • POT (15th Century to 17th Century - 1450 AD to 1650 AD)
  • BRICK (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • CLAY PIPE (SMOKING) (18th Century - 1750 AD to 1799 AD)
  • POT (18th Century to 19th Century - 1800 AD to 1899 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Unpublished Contractor Report: Stephens, C. 2006. Geophysical Survey Report. Walpole Electricity Substation, Walpole Street Peter, Norfolk. GSB Prospection. 2006/71.
<S2>Unpublished Contractor Report: Cooper, O. 2008. Archaeological Evaluation Report. Walpole Electricity Substation, Walpole St Peter, Norfolk. Northern Archaeological Associates Ltd. 08/43.
<S3>Unpublished Contractor Report: Clarke, R. 2009. Medieval and Later Saltworking and Channel Management at Walpole St Peter, Norfolk. Post-Excavation Assessment. Oxford Archaeology East. 1116.
<S4>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Hoggett, R. 2010. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk in 2009. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLVI Pt I pp 135-147. p 145.

Related records

19694Related to: Possible medieval saltern mound (Monument)
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