Parish Summary: Deopham

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

Deopham is situated in the Breckland area of Norfolk, between Wicklewood and Hingham. The nearest large town is Wymondham. There are four centres of modern occupation – Deopham itself, Hackford to the north, Deopham Stalland, a small village on the west border of the parish and Deopham Green to the south. Deopham and Hackford are both listed in the Domesday Book. William of Warenne and Ralph of Beaufour owned Deopham. Leofwin held it before 1066. Tovi held Hackford. The village names are Old English suggesting Saxon origins. Deopham is translated as village near the deep place or lake. Hackford means ford by the bend or with a sluice for catching fish. The parish has some interesting archaeology with evidence for activity from the Palaeolithic to the modern period.

The earliest find is a Palaeolithic flint scraper (NHER 37253). Other possible Palaeolithic flints (NHER 41717) have also been found. A Neolithic axehead (NHER 2957) and two Neolithic or Bronze Age axe hammers (NHER 8903 and 24079) have also been recovered. The most extensive evidence for prehistoric activity, however, comes from the Bronze Age. Extensive finds of metal work including two rapiers (NHER 17455 and 28498), an awl (NHER 29876), an axehead (NHER 25452), a mini axehead (NHER 35694), a sword (NHER 37107) and a spearhead and a fragment of a socketed axe (NHER 41108) have all been made within the parish. An Early Bronze Age hoard of axes (NHER 29875) has also been recovered. Taken together these finds are clear evidence for extensive activity in the area. In contrast from the Iron Age period only one fragment of Iron Age pottery (NHER 29550) has been recovered. 

Photograph of a gold solidus from a hoard of Roman coins found at Deopham. Photograph from MODES.

A gold solidus from a hoard of Roman coins found at Deopham. NWHCM 1996.13.5:A (© NCC)

There have been finds of Roman objects across the parish, but there is no concentration of activity. Roman pottery (NHER 2960, 11258 and 21116) and Roman coins (NHER 9070, 25452 and 29874) have been recovered. Several Roman brooches (NHER 25778 and 29875) including a rare early hybrid type (NHER 29875) have also been found. The strongest evidence for Roman settlement was found near the site of a hoard of Roman gold coins (NHER 29550) dated to the 4th century AD. Metal detecting and fieldwalking recovered 26 gold coins and 3 silver ones, along with several copper coins and pottery which suggested there may have been an area of Roman settlement to the west of the hoard.

There is little evidence for activity in the Saxon period, although we know that the settlements were established by then. Metal detecting has recovered a few metal finds including an Early Saxon brooch (NHER 29875), a Middle Saxon coin (NHER 35854) and a Middle Saxon prick spur (NHER 29875). A Borre style Late Saxon brooch (NHER 30065) and Late Saxon bridle link (NHER 25778) have also been found. These finds illustrate that there was activity within the parish throughout the Saxon period, perhaps concentrated at Hackford where most of the finds have been made, despite the lack of monuments or archaeological evidence for settlement. 

The four stage tower of St Andrew's church was started in the 13th century and altered in the 15th century.

The impressive 13th and 15th century tower of St Andrew's Church, Deopham. (© NCC)

In the medieval period we see an increase in the amount of archaeological evidence for settlement and several medieval moats (NHER 2972, 8904, 9103, 13742 and 21228) have been recorded in the parish. Extant buildings survive including St Andrew’s Church (NHER 2983) which mainly dates to the 14th century and St Mary’s, Hackford (NHER 8928) which is slightly earlier dating to the 13th century, with a possible Norman church on the same site. Several medieval tofts (NHER 2960, 13505 and 21116) have also been surveyed, and these represent former occupation sites. Many metal detecting finds of medieval objects including buckles (NHER 29874, 29875 and 40966), coins (NHER 34881, 31268 and 41095) and horse fittings (NHER 25778, 29550 and 30063) have also been made. 

Unidentified gilt 12th century object.

A 12th century gilt object from Deopham depicting a lion. (© NCC)

There are many more buildings surviving from the post medieval period. The earliest of these, 16th century Park Farm (NHER 19352), hides beneath more recent changes. Other post medieval buildings (NHER 2972 and 37369) have been recorded but have since been demolished. The windmill (NHER 16743) stood until the 1920s when the sails blew off and it was destroyed by fire.

More recently Deopham Green airfield (NHER 4260) was used by both the United States Army Air Force and the RAF during World War Two. It was an important European base for the US Eighth Army Air Force and the 452nd Bomb Group flew 250 missions and lost 110 planes from these runways. Aircraft hangars and some contemporary murals can still be seen on the site.

The archaeology of Deopham is diverse and interesting with evidence for activity from the Palaeolithic period onwards and intense activity during the Bronze Age and medieval periods.

Megan Dennis (NLA), 22 September 2005.


Further Reading

Barrell, G., Unknown. ‘USAAF Airfields at Deopham Green’. Available: Accessed 1 February 2006.

Brown, P. (ed.), 1984. Domesday Book, 33 Norfolk, Part I and Part II (Chichester, Philimore)

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

Neville, J., 2005. ‘Norfolk Mills – Deopham tower windmill’. Available: Accessed 1 February 2006.

Rye, J., 2000. A Popular Guide to Norfolk Place-names (Dereham, The Larks Press)

Small Web Solutions, 2005. ‘The 10th BW Our Bases’. Available: Accessed 1 February 2006.

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