Parish Summary: Felthorpe

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

Felthorpe, to the north of Norwich, is a parish dominated by modern plantations, which surround the village of Felthorpe. The name comes from a combination of Old English and Old Scandinavian, meaning 'hamlet or farm belonging to Faela'. 

Photograph of the earthworks of a Neolithic long barrow in Felthorpe.

The earthwork of a possible Neolithic long barrow in Felthorpe. (© NCC.)

There is some evidence for prehistoric occupation in the parish, and a number of prehistoric flint implements (NHER 33502, 33090 and 19561) and prehistoric flint flakes (NHER 18591185931898918988 and 18594) have been found. A Mesolithic flint blade (NHER 11935) is the earliest dateable prehistoric find. Neolithic flint axeheads (NHER 7759, 7761, 17764, 17765, 18595, 19141, 19553, 19554, 19561 and 19562), scrapers (NHER 18592, 18593 and 20538), a flint sickle (NHER 7758), an adze (NHER 19563) and arrowheads (NHER 11935 and 19555) have also been found. A concentration of Neolithic flint implements (NHER 19555) has been found by field walking in the north of the parish. A possible Neolithic long barrow (NHER 7763) has survived as an earthwork mound within a modern plantation, close to the site of a later Bronze Age round barrow (NHER 7762). A Bronze Age spear (NHER 20539) and a flanged axehead (NHER 33092) are the only Bronze Age artefacts found to date.

An Iron Age coin (NHER 24509), made of gold and decorated with the image of a prancing horse, has been found, and two brooches (NHER 33090 and 33383) which may date to the Iron Age or the Roman period have also been found. Metal detectorists have recovered Roman artefacts from all over the parish, including coins (NHER 17763205393138031382, 330883309033092 and 35252), brooches (NHER 316493308833092 and 35252), and an unusual cosmetic palette (NHER 31649) have been found, as well as a Roman quern (NHER 7790). Despite this evidence, the location of any definite Iron Age or Roman settlement remains uncertain. 

Drawing of a non-armorial medieval horse harness pendant with niello decoration from Felthorpe.

A non-armorial medieval horse harness pendant with niello decoration from Felthorpe. (© NCC.)

An Early Saxon brooch (NHER 23309), an Early Saxon girdle hanger (NHER 32338) have been found suggesting that a settlement existed, and developed into the relatively large settlement recorded in the Domesday Book. Part of an Early Saxon drinking horn (NHER 33091), found by a metal detectorist, suggests that the Saxon settlement may have been a lively place! Middle Saxon brooches (NHER 35253 and 33091) and pins (NHER 35253), and Late Saxon strap fittings (NHER 3309131649 and 31382) and other Late Saxon metalwork (NHER 2330933383 and 35253) have also been found to the south of the present village. St Margaret's Church (NHER 7794) dates mainly from the 14th century, with 19th century restoration. The church stands some distance to the south of the village, and the Saxon and medieval metalwork found in this area could suggest that this was original focus of settlement in the Late Saxon and early medieval period, which gradually shifted to the edge of a large area of open common land, shown as 'Felthorpe Heath' on Faden's map of 1797.

A post medieval watermill (NHER 15236) and its mill pond (NHER 7789) are also shown on Faden's map, the watermill was demolished in the 1970s, but the pond is still visible as an earthwork. Two other post medieval mills (NHER 15235, 15927) were situated on Mill Lane, and marked on early maps. The Old Rectory (NHER 40110) is an 18th century house with a 19th century facade, whilst Felthorpe Hall (NHER 7791) is an early 19th century house, which was used as a Red Cross hospital during World War One and World War Two. Two iron working sites of unknown date (NHER 7755, 7756) have been discovered, and the village still has a blacksmith's shop (NHER 15626), although it was last used in the 1950s.

Sarah Spooner (NLA), November 2005.


Further Reading

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

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

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


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