Record Details

NHER Number:9795
Type of record:Monument
Name:Markshall deserted village and church, Caistor St Edmund


This is the site of Markshall church and deserted village. The final remnants of the church were destroyed when the railway line was put through them in 1847. A stone coffin, human skeletons from the graveyard and foundations of the church were found during the construction. The site now lies within the ground of a 18th century house. Iron Age pottery has been recovered here.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 228 047
Map Sheet:TG20SW

Full description

Chapel Hill
Site of Markshall Church and deserted village.

1066. Documentary Evidence.
Markshall had a church at the Domesday Inquest.
See (S1) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 03 June 2009.

1675. Documentary Evidence.
Ogilby published a road book which described important landmarks visible from main roads.
On the road leaving Norwich by the 'Hartford Bridges' for Ipswich Ogilby describes a roofless, towerless building on a hill bearing a cross and labelled 'Merkshall', located to the left of the road, midway between the road and Caistor and some distance to the north. R. R. Clarke (S1) later identified this site with Chapel Hill and Markshall Church.
See (S1) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 2 June 2009.

27 May 1737. Observation.
Tom Martin visited the ruins of Markshall church, compiling a sketch and the following description:
'Markshall. Humbleyard Chapell on an eminence by the Harford Bridge River shewing cross Lakenham Chu(rch) on the other side of the river N.E. No steeple - nave 8 yards long same broad - chancel 10 yards long (?) 5 yards broad - roofless - churchyard down not a house near only one farm 1/4 of a mile south - Castor river between.' (S4)
R. R. Clarke identified this location with Chapel Hill.
See (S1) and (S4) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 2 June 2009.

1806. Documentary Evidence - Possibly based on a site visit as well as Tom Martin's observations (S4).
Blomefield (S5 and S6) includes a description of Markshall Church, following a description of Keswick church:
'More on the same side of the river, on a promontory bounded on the South-east by the river Taus, are seen the ruins of another church, properly enough called 'Merkshall'. The church is dedicated to St. Edmund King and Martyr. It never had a steeple only a nave and chancel. The former was 10 yards by 8 and the latter 10 yards by 6. The only house in the parish stands about 2 furlongs south of it; the ruins are still perceptible at some distance.' (Transcribed in S1)
Blomefield (S6) also notes that in 1525 William Paston presented William Woodward Priest 'not as formerly to a rectory, but to a free-chapel; by means of which, at the Dissolution, it was demolished, the glebe and profits seized', confirming that the building was known as a chapel rather than a church.
See (S1), (S5) and (S6) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 3 June 2009.

1881-2. Ordnance Survey Parish Survey.
Ordnance Survey staff identified a fragment of mansonry northwest of The Carr (at NHER 9584) during their parish survey in prepration for the first 6 inch to one mile OS map (S10). R. R. Clarke (S1) later described these remains as a rectangular structure which is thought to extend east and west, ending in a hexagonal bay on the east. The east wall of the bay was faced with flint with brick quoins and stood approximately 3 feet high and was 8 feet long. The thickness of the wall could not be determined as it had been disturbed by an ash tree. The south wall was 7 feet 6 inches long and 1 foot 6 inches thick while the north wall was only indicated by rubble on the surface.The southeast face of the 'bay' was 4 feet long and the east face at the end of the south wall was 2 feet 2 inches long. The western extent of the building could not be determined.
As these were the only above ground ruins identified during the survey, they were identified with the ruins of the parish church.
See (S1), (S8) and (S10) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 3 June 2009.

1845. Documentary Evidence.
The First Edition Ordnance Survey Map (S8) labels Chapel Hill as the site of a Roman cemtery and notates that a stone cist and Roman coins were found in 1845. R. R. Clarke (S1) later speculated that the 'stone cist' was the coffin discovered during excavation for the railway in 1847 (see below) and that either the date was transcribed in error or the digging actually took place on the site before the railyway work began in March 1847. He also speculated that the 'Roman' pottery may have been of Iron Age date (contemporary with those recovered by R. R. Clarke in 1927, see below) or medieval date. R. R. Clarke could not find any other mention of Roman coins recovered at this location.
See (S1) and (S8) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 03 June 2009.

Pre-1847. Casual Find.
A large bead of opaline vitreous paste was found on Chapel Hill.
See (S1) and (S9) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 02 June 2009.

1847. Casual Find.
Seven human skeletons were discovered and removed during excavation of a cutting for the Norwich and Ipswich railway through Chapel Hill along with a stone coffin and the foundations of a building interpreted at the time as a likely chapel or other religious house. The coffin was broken in two and contained fragments of human bone but no skull, and two of the skulls included in the other remains were damaged, prompting speculation of a battle at the location. Fragments of Roman pottery were also reportedly discovered, but no coins or any other antiquities (S7).
R. R. Clarke later speculated that the coffin is likely the fragments of the head and foot of a medieval stone coffin located in the rockery in the grounds of Caistor Hall in 1935 (S1).
See (S1) and (S7) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 03 June 2009.

1857. Casual Find.
A Middle Saxon gold coin was found on Chapel Hill.
See (S1), (S2), (S3) for further details.

Rev. H. J. D. Astley, at the instigation of Walter Rye, asserted that the ruins at The Carr (see NHER 9584) identified as the ruins of Markshall church by the OS in 1881-2 (see above) were the remains of a Roman quay (S11). He suggested that Markshall church was located on the gravel bluff 370 yards to the north, but R. R. Clarke (S5) later noted that no traces of a building were found at this location.
See (S5) and (S11) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 3 June 2009.

1929. Casual Find.
Several sherds of coarse grey pottery were found on the summit of Chapel Hill. C.F.C. Hawkes dated these to the 'Iron Age A' period.
See (S1) for further details.
E. Rose (NAU), 22 October 1990.
Updated H. Hamilton (NLA), 2 June 2009.

1935. Documentary Research.
While reviewing the archaeology of Markshall, R. R. Clarke reviewed available documentary sources regarding the location of the former parish church. He concluded that the gravel bluff in the northeast of the parish suggested as the location of Markshall church in 1906 (S11, see above) could not be the site of the church as it does not agree with the distances given by Martin (S4) and Blomefield (S5, S6), no building materials or foundations have been found at that location, and no traces of a building have been identified on aerial photographs which had been recently taken. He also concluded that the brick and flint structure at The Carr (see NHER 9584) identified as the ruins of Markshall church by the OS in 1881-2 (see above) could not be Markshall church as the measurements do not agree with those provided by Martin (S4), Martin's sketch does not include a bay, this location is not on an eminence as described by Ogilby, Martin and Blomefield, it cannot be seen from the Ipswich road as described by Ogilby, and in general the location is abutting Marshland which is liable to floods and therefore is unsuitable for a church. In contrast, R. R. Clarke noted that, with the exception that it is northwest rather than north of Markshall Farm, Chapel Hill agrees with all of the details provided by Ogilby, Martin and Blomefield (see above) and physical remains of a medieval ecclesiastical structure surrounded by a graveyard have actually been recorded at this location. In addition, the hill is called 'chapel', Martin refers to the building as a 'Chapell' and 16th century documents also refer to Markshall church as a free-chapel rather than a rectory (S6, p 48).
It is now generally agreed that Chapel Hill is the site of Markshall church. Blomefield (S6, see above) notes that the church was demolished at the Dissolution, but R. R. Clarke has observed that this does not appear to have been at all thorough as Tom Martin's 1737 sketch (S4) depicts the lower part of the windows. He also states that incuments were presented until the church was desecrated in 1695 and the living were consolidated with those of Caistor St Edmunds.
See (S1) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 3 June 2009.

Remains of Markshall Church in grounds of house and barn dated 1716. Evidence of older, 17th century? barn.
E. Rose (NLA), 10 December 2001.

March 2009. Norfolk NMP.
No sign of this medieval deserted settlement was visible on aerial photographs at this location. See NHER 52326 for nearby cropmarks possibly relating to medieval settlement.
S. Horlock (NMP), 24 March 2009.

Monument Types

  • CHURCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • DESERTED SETTLEMENT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • INHUMATION (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BARN (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FARM (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • HOUSE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • TIMBER FRAMED BARN (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • POT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • BEAD (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • COIN (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)
  • COFFIN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

<S>Monograph: Batcock, N. 1991. The Ruined and Disused Churches of Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 51. Microfiche 5:G12. No 193; p 54.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 20 NW 155 [4]; TG 20 NW 157; TG 20 SW 15 [2]; TG 20 SW 16; TG 20 SW 42.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card. NHER 9794-9795.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Iron Age. Casiton (Markshall) [2].
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Roman. Caister-by-Norwich.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Caistor St Edmund.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
<S1>Article in Serial: Clarke, R. R. 1935. Notes on the Archaeology of Markshall. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXV Pt III pp 354-367. pp 357-358, 360-366.
<S2>Article in Serial: 1859. [unknown]. Numismatic Chronicle, 1st Series. Vol XX, pp 43-8..
<S3>Monograph: Dolly, M. (ed.). 1961. Anglo-Saxon coins: studies presented to F.M. Stenton on the occasion of his 80th birthday.. p.10 plate I 4-6.
<S4>Documentary Source: Martin, T. c. 1700-1799. Collections of Church Notes. Norfolk Records Office. 1772, Vol 3.
<S5>Monograph: Blomefield, F. 1806. The History of The City and County of Norwich, Part I. An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk. Vol III. p 32.
<S6>Serial: Blomefield, F.. 1806. An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk.. Vol V. pp 46-49.
<S7>Newspaper Article: Norfolk Chronicle. 1847. [unknown]. 17 April.
<S8>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1824-1836. Ordnance Survey First Edition 1 inch..
<S9>Article in Monograph: 1851. Catalogue of Antiquities. Exhibited in the Museum formed during the Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute, held at Norwich, in 1847. Memoirs Illustrative of the History and Antiquities of Norfolk and the City. Archaeological Institute. pp xxiii-lvi. p xxvi.
<S10>Map: Ordnance Survey, First Edition, 6 Inch. 1879-1886. Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 6 inch map..
<S11>Article in Serial: Dukenfield Astley, Rev. H. J.. 1906. The True Site of Markshall Church and a supposed Roman Landing Place. Norfolk Antiquarian Miscellany. Second Series Pt 1 pp 39-45. pp 39-45.

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