Parish Summary: Drayton

This Parish Summary is an overview of the large amount of information held for the parish, and only selected examples of sites and finds in each period are given. It has been beyond the scope of the project to carry out detailed research into the historical background, documents, maps or other sources, but we hope that the Parish Summaries will encourage users to refer to the detailed records, and to consult the bibliographical sources referred to below. Feedback and any corrections are welcomed by email to

The parish of Drayton is located northwest of Norwich and is about 5 kilometres from the city centre. Drayton village is spread along the length of the A1067 Norwich to Fakenham road which passes through the parish. The village merges with Hellesdon in the southeast, Taverham to the northwest and Thorpe Marriot in the northwest. Thorpe Marriot is partly located in the parish. The southern parish boundary follows the course of the River Wensum.

A reasonable amount of archaeological work has been conducted in the parish. Quite a lot of fieldwalking and some metal detecting have taken place and there have been many stray finds. A few excavations have been carried out and buildings and sites have been visited. Much of the fieldwork, however, has been carried out in the south of the parish and in the southeast in particular. This means that most finds and sites have been recorded in the south and any observations made about the location of occupation sites and activity may well reflect this. 

Drawing of a Late Upper Palaeolithic blade core from Drayton.

Late Upper Palaeolithic blade core from Drayton. (© NCC)

Prehistoric flint artefacts have been found throughout. It is not possible to date many of these any more firmly. For others, though, it is possible and these include a reasonable number of Palaeolithic flint artefacts. The Palaeolithic objects include cores, blades and flakes and have all been discovered in the southeast of the parish. This distribution may reflect a focus of Palaeolithic activity or could reflect which areas have been fieldwalked and which have not. The findspots of Mesolithic flint objects are concentrated in the same area, probably for the same reasons. The artefacts include blades, points and at least five axeheads.

Neolithic flint artefacts include flaked and polished axeheads, flakes, blades and a sickle. Two locations (NHER 7890 and 7893) have produced a large number of Neolithic objects and it has been suggested that both were manufacturing sites for flint tools. It is also possible that flint was mined at both sites. One site is located in the northwest of the parish, the other is in the southeast. Only a few Bronze Age objects have been collected. They include a gold ring or bracelet (NHER 7851) and a flint arrowhead (NHER 7850).

No objects of definite Iron Age date have been found. An Iron Age or Roman decorated bronze object (NHER 25514) found in the southeast of the parish is the only possibility. In 1924 a floor, burnt sand and pot boilers were discovered and it was suggested that they were Iron Age. It is perhaps safer to propose that they were prehistoric in date. Roman pottery, coins and metalwork have been found at a number of sites. The discovery of a possible Roman coin hoard (NHER 24973) has been reported, but attempts to confirm the discovery have been unsuccessful.

An Early Saxon cremation cemetery (NHER 7853) was discovered in the mid 19th century on a hillside above the River Wensum (although its exact location is not known). At least one complete cremation urn was found along with many fragmentary pots and an iron dagger. An Early Saxon pin and brooch have also been found. A site in the southeast has yielded a Middle Saxon pin and a hooked tag (NHER 25514).

Drayton is called ‘Draituna’ in the Domesday Book of 1086. This is an Old English name meaning ‘enclosure by a slope used for dragging down loads or where drays are used’. The ‘slope’ element may be a reference to land that rises up from the River Wensum to the village. In 1086 Ralph of Beaufour and Oder held land in the parish. A church, slaves, ploughs, meadow, woodland, pigs, horses, cattle, pigs, sheep and goats were recorded. 

Photograph of St Margaret's Church, Drayton.

St Margaret's Church, Drayton. (© NCC)

The church mentioned in Domesday may have stood on the site of St Margaret's Church (NHER 7906). The tower, nave and chancel were substantially rebuilt and restored during the 19th century, although they do retain some 13th, 14th and 15th century features. The church is located in the centre of the village and south of it, close to the A1067, is a 14th century village cross (NHER 7855). To the southeast of the cross and church is Drayton Lodge (NHER 7854), a ruined medieval house. It was built around 1437 and was owned by the Paston family before being partly demolished in 1465. It was a two storey brick building with a tower at each corner. Medieval and post medieval finds have been found throughout the parish. They include pottery, coins, jettons and metalwork.  

photograph of Drayton Lodge, a ruined medieval house.

Drayton Lodge, a ruined medieval house. (© NCC)

A number of post medieval buildings survive in the modern village. They include Manor Farm House, 2 Low Road, The Red Lion and Stower Grange Hotel. Other post medieval buildings are known, but do not survive. A dovecot is marked on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map between the village and the River Wensum. Drayton Hall (NHER 7898) was located in the west of the parish. A few post medieval farm buildings remain at the site, but the house has been demolished.

In 1882 century a railway line from Norwich to Cromer (NHER 13584) was opened. It passed through the western part of the parish and a railway station was built to serve the village. During the construction of a railway bridge thirteen human skeletons (NHER 12406) were found. It has been suggested that the people represented by the skeletons may have died during the battle the local placename 'Blood Dale' is believed to refer to. The route of the railway is now used as part of a long distance foot and cycle path.

In the west of the parish is a Cold War nuclear bunker (NHER 36959). It is a rare survival of a bunker built by a private individual during the early 1980s. Constructed following guidelines issued by the government, it has concrete walls and a steel, concrete, polythene and bitumen roof. It retains its original internal features and fittings, including a spa bath.

David Robertson (NLA), 20 January 2006.


Further Reading

Brown, P. (ed.), 1984. Domesday Book: Norfolk (Chichester, Phillimore)

Mills, A.D., 1998. Dictionary of English Place-Names (Oxford, Oxford University Press)

Norfolk Federation of Women’s Institutes, 1990. The Norfolk Village Book (Newbury, Countryside Books)

Norfolk Sites, 2004. 'Drayton Online'. Available: Accessed: 20 January 2006.

Rye, J., 1991. A Popular Guide to Norfolk Place-names (Dereham, Larks Press)

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