Record Details

NHER Number:51497
Type of record:Monument
Name:Medieval mass grave at Malthouse Road, Norwich

Summary

In September 2004 a human skull was retrieved from the spoil of a pile trench in the north-eastern corner of the Chapelfield development. This skull was found to have come from the base of a well that was was found to contain further skeletal remains from a minimum of 17 individuals. Radiocarbon dates from the skeletal remains and the associated medieval pottery assemblage indicated that the remains had been deposited between the 12th and 13th century.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TG 22840 08159
Map Sheet:TG20NW
Parish:NORWICH, NORWICH, NORFOLK

Full description

September 2004. Excavation.
In 2004 workers constructing the new Chapelfield development retrieved a human skull from the spoil of a pile trench. Subsequent archaeological investigations demonstrated that this skull had come from the deposits at the base of a well, which was found to contain further skeletal remains from a minimum of 17 individuals. Radiocarbon dates from the skeletal remains and the associated medieval pottery assemblage indicated that the remains had been deposited between the 12th and 13th century. The skeletal remains included six adults and 11 children and may represent a mass burial of victims of disease or famine in a relatively poor parish of the city. Alternatively, it is possible that these could be the remains of victims of civil unrest such as the persecution of the Jewish community in medieval Norwich but there are no signs of trauma that could have caused the death of these individuals. The remains of cats or kittens were also discovered that were certainly deposited prior to the burials and could be the result of local culling practices or to provide fur and meat. A large solution hollow was also identified and two struck flints and one burnt flint of prehistoric date were recovered from this feature.
See report (S1) for further details.
The archive associated with this work has been deposited with Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2011.455).
S. Howard (NLA), 14 May 2010. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 24 June 2020.

June 2011.
This site was the subject of a BBC documentary which revealed that five of the skeletons had DNA consistent with Jewish communities.
Further details are awaited.
See (S2) and (S3).
A. Cattermole (HES), 22 June 2011.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Prehistoric - 1000000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WELL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BURIAL PIT (Medieval - 1100 AD to 1299 AD)
  • INHUMATION (Medieval - 1100 AD to 1299 AD)

Associated Finds

  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT (Late Saxon to Medieval - 1000 AD to 1199 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Medieval - 1100 AD to 1299 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1100 AD to 1299 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1200 AD to 1399 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Photograph: PJM.
<S1>Unpublished Contractor Report: Emery, G. 2010. A Medieval Mass Grave on the site of Chapelfield Shopping Centre, Norwich (Amended). NAU Archaeology. 1562.
<S2>Unpublished Document: Plank, L.. 2011. Press Release. BBC History Cold Case Team Solve Mystery of Norwich Bodies in the well..
<S3>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2011. Revealed: a dark secret from city's Jewish past. 21 June.

Related records - none

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