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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 Breckland parish of Lyng is situated in mid Norfolk to the northwest of Norwich. Its name probably comes from the Old English for bank or ledge and may derive from a river terrace. People have lived in Lyng for a very long time, and the parish was certainly well established by the time of the Norman Conquest, its population, land ownership and productive resources being detailed in the Domesday Book of 1086.

The earliest dateable evidence of human activity comes in the form of two Palaeolithic flint handaxes (NHER 3035) found in a gravel pit in the 1960s. A probable Mesolithic flint-working site (NHER 3036) was observed in 1916 and Neolithic finds include a polished flint axehead (NHER 43112), scrapers (NHER 3041 and NHER 14021) and arrowheads (NHER 3037). Two stone axehammers (NHER 3038 and NHER 3039) found in the parish could be either Neolithic or Early Bronze Age, but a barbed and tanged flint arrowhead (NHER 3040) found in 1858 is definitely Early Bronze Age. More recently, aerial photography has tentatively identified several ring ditches that may be the flattened remains of Bronze Age burial mounds (NHER 17593 and 17821). There is currently no sign of Iron Age activity.

The Romans left rather more evidence of their passing, including a pottery kiln (NHER 3046) in the east of the parish that was excavated in 1959. Roman finds are quite numerous, selected examples being coins (e.g. NHER 3042, 3043, 3044 and 35291), pottery fragments (e.g. NHER 3042, 35292 and 36058), brooches (NHER 35292 and 35964) and a copper alloy votive hammer (NHER 36614). Saxon finds include pottery fragments (NHER 12904 and 35292), a strap end (NHER 35292), a very rare Middle Saxon spur (NHER 3048) and a Late Saxon brooch (NHER 3048).

The medieval period has left the parish with its oldest surviving building, St Margaret’s Church (NHER 3061). This has a 13th century west tower, a very wide 15th century nave with large windows, a 15th century south porch, formerly two storeys high, with an 18th century Dutch gable, and a chancel that was rebuilt in 1912. There are elaborately decorated 15th century south doors and inside is an early 13th century octagonal font, an enormous hammerbeam nave roof, a stained glass of St Margaret in the east window and a 15th century altar cloth made up of parts of vestments. 

Photograph of the ruins of St Edmund's Chapel, Lyng. These fragmentary remains of a probably 15th century priory church.

The ruins of St Edmund's Chapel, Lyng. These fragmentary remains of a probably 15th century priory church.

(© NCC)

To the east of Lyng village are the ruins of St Edmund’s Chapel (NHER 3048). These are the fragmentary remains of a probably 15th century priory church, partially obscured by vegetation. A broad range of Roman, Saxon, medieval and post medieval objects have been found on the site since the 19th century, but mostly in more recent years by metal detecting. These finds include the Middle Saxon spur referred to above.

Other medieval buildings have not survived but left a footprint in the form of their surrounding moat. To the east of Lyng village at NHER 12303, finds of medieval tiles, together with building outlines within an enclosure and traces of fishponds, indicate a medieval moated site, possibly built by Sir John de Norwich. Another moated site is at NHER 16744, upon which now stands an 18th century former rectory, now a private house. A series of low banks and ditches (NHER 14402) on Primrose Green are probably the remains of a medieval common edge settlement.

Selected medieval finds include pottery fragments (e.g. NHER 3050, 12904, 12944 and 35292), a pottery whistle (NHER 18583), coins (NHER 31369), buckles (NHER 31369), a brooch (NHER 35295), a papal bull (NHER 39380) and a signet ring (NHER 34667).

Probably the earliest post medieval building in the parish is Riverside Farm, Easthaugh (NHER 32069), a two storey timber framed building of about 1600 with a pantiled roof, and later brick rebuilding. The Fox and Hounds Pub (NHER 32292) is 17th century and Lyng House (NHER 20560), Glebe House (NHER 44516) and Old Smithy Cottage (NHER 44517) are all 18th century. 

Photograph of the Mill House, Lyng.

 Mill House, Lyng. (© NCC)

East of Lyng village, on the River Wensum, is Mill House (NHER 12698), the site of an 18th century paper mill which was rebuilt after burning down in 1778. The mill was then destroyed in a riot in 1832, rebuilt again, and used until 1865. The mill house remains, an attractive 18th century brick building with a slightly unusual central chimney stack. It stands next to a narrow three-arched bridge over the river.

Lime kilns (NHER 16656) are marked, unsurprisingly at Lime Kiln Farm, on a 19th century map, and it was recently discovered that they are still there and used for storage. Also part of a brick kiln (NHER 12943) was ploughed up in 1977 north of the turkey farm.

East of Easthaugh Hill, by the road, is a World War Two common type 22 hexagonal concrete pillbox (NHER 32443), built in about 1940 as part of the anti invasion defences of the time. Aerial photographs taken just after the war show earthworks and buildings around the pillbox that may have been gun emplacements or a searchlight battery. 

Photograph of a World War two pillbox, Lyng. 

World War Two pillbox, Lyng. (© NCC)


An undateable but rather quirky object in the north of the parish is the Great Stone of Lyng (NHER 3057). This is a large erratic stone set beside a public foot path. The stone is subject to local legends, including allegations that it bleeds, that birds cannot be heard singing near it and that treasure is buried beneath it. 

Photograph of The Great Stone of Lyng. Local legend says that it bleeds, that birds cannot be heard singing near it and that treasure is buried beneath it.

The Great Stone of Lyng. Local legend says that it bleeds, that birds cannot be heard singing near it and that treasure is buried beneath it. (© NCC)

Piet Aldridge (NLA), 12 October 2006.


Further Reading

Morris, J. (General Editor), 1984. Domesday Book (Chichester, Phillimore & Co)

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

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