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 email@example.com
The parish of Caston is situated in southern central Norfolk, about mid way between Watton and Attleborough. Its name comes from the Old English for ‘Catt’s enclosure’, catt (meaning wild cat), probably being a nickname. The parish has been in existence for a considerable time, and was certainly long established by the time of the Norman Conquest, and the Domesday Book of 1086 records the land being apportioned among several people.
The earliest evidence of human activity in the parish comes in the form of flint tools from the Neolithic; finds from this period consist of two polished axeheads (NHER 8969 and 8970), a partly polished axehead (NHER 21736) and a fragment of axe (NHER 23816). After this, the archaeological record becomes very quiet, with just one find from the Bronze Age, a copper alloy axehead (NHER 8972), and nothing at all from the Iron Age prior to the Roman occupation.
Most of the evidence of activity from the Roman period was found in the 19th century. A hoard of Roman coins and a silver ring found in the parish (NHER 8974) were exhibited in Swaffham in 1816, and a further coin hoard was reported as being found in 1820 (NHER 8975). In the late 19th century, a Roman copper alloy bracelet and glass beads were found in a supposed burial mound (NHER 8973). More recent Roman finds have been located by metal detecting. Eleven brooches were found in 2001 (NHER 36653) and a coin, finger ring and pottery fragments recovered in 2004 (NHER 40516).
There are no finds from the Saxon period except some Late Saxon pottery fragments (NHER 33773).
The medieval period following the Norman Conquest has left the parish with its oldest surviving building, Holy Cross church (NHER 5772). The oldest part of the church is the 13th century chancel, the west tower, nave and two storey north porch (now a vestry) being from the 14th and 15th centuries. The building underwent restoration in the 19th century. Inside, there is a large brass chandelier, said to have been given to a Hertfordshire church by Charles I, and originally to have come from Hampton Court Palace. Turning right out of the churchyard and walking towards the war memorial, another surviving medieval structure can be seen. This is the remains of the village cross (NHER 5775), said to be a stopping point for pilgrims on their way to Walsingham Priory. The shaft of the cross was taken down in the 19th century, but the three tiered circular base is still there. The only residential medieval building in the parish is The Thatched Cottage (NHER 5779), an early 16th century timber framed and thatched building, originally built as a hall house, but now two cottages. Flaxmoor (NHER 5778) is thought to have a medieval core, but the rest of the house is 16th and 18th century, with an early 19th century façade.
Several properties survive from the early post medieval period. Arguably, the oldest of these is Old Rectory Cottage (NHER 5776) a 16th century timber framed house with a 17th century south wing, all encased in brick in the 19th century. Inside, the drawing room has a plaster ceiling decorated with angels and Tudor roses.
Caston Mill, a six storey brick tower mill, built in 1864 to replace a post mill. The mill has a boat-shaped cap. Photograph from www.norfolkmills.co.uk
Church Farm (NHER 5773
) dates to the late 16th century, and has 17th and 19th century additions. The building has elaborate blank arcading on its north gable. It also has a massive stone fireplace and quoins, both made from reused medieval stone. The Red Lion (NHER 5774
), although mainly 18th century, probably has a 17th century timber frame, now encased in brick. Old Cottage, which stands adjacent to this pub is a 17th century timber framed thatched building with later alterations. The Old Rectory (NHER 5777
), which dates to about 1720, is now a private house.
Caston Mill and Granary (NHER 5771) is a fine six storey brick tower mill of 1864 with a boat shaped cap. The granary joined to the side of the mill has been converted to residential use, but the mill machinery is still intact.
The patchiness of the early archaeological record does not necessarily mean that there was no human activity at those times, and may merely reflect a lack of detailed investigation. Future work may well fill out the picture.
Piet Aldridge (NLA) , 23 November 2005.
Brown , P. (ed.), 1984. The Domesday Book, 33 Norfolk (Chichester, Phillimore & Co)
Rye, J., 1991. A Popular Guide to Norfolk Place Names (Dereham, The Larks Press)