Record Details

NHER Number:1462
Type of record:Monument
Name:Medieval to post medieval oyster beds


Earthworks of medieval to post medieval oyster beds visible on RAF aerial photographs from 1946 and 1953. The site consists of clusters of oblong pits surrounded by low banks, fed by a series of feeder channels.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TF 664 370
Map Sheet:TF63NE

Full description

7 June 1946.
Group of circular and rectangular basins, in this marsh, visible on aerial photographs and on ground.
Probably saltpans, date unknown.
R.R. Clarke (NCM)
E. Rose (NAU)

January 1998.
Land now used as caravan park, no surface sign of features.
B. Cushion (NLA) 7 January 1998.

March 2002. Norfolk NMP.
Series of earthworks of oyster beds and interconnecting channels located on former salt marsh, visible on RAF aerial photographs from 1946 (S1) and 1953 (S2 to (S4). The main cluster of up to 65 beds are located at TF 6644 3701, covering an area 220m long and 135m wide. These pits are fed by a large feeder channel to the north, running from TF 6658 3726 to TF 6646 3712. This is likely to have been a former tidal creek. The whole site lies on the seaward side of the 'new' sea bank depicted on the 1871 Enclosure Award map (S5).
The site consists of five groups of pits in a dendritic pattern around interconnecting channels and leats. The most clearly well defined and organised group of 19 oblong beds is located at the southeastern edge of the site at TF 6650 3701. These have a linear arrangement and are fed by two channels. The central group, centred at TF 6643 3704, is particularly sinuous and irregular. This cluster displays much variation in the plan and size of the beds; ranging from 18.5m by 13m and 4.5m by 2.6m. Many of the smaller, shallower pits are oval in shape, this is likely to be the result of silting of the beds. The larger better defined beds have low banks of upcast part surrounding the troughs.
A caravan park now covers these earthworks and therefore only early photography of the site exists. The oyster beds can be seen on the RAF 1946 verticals, however no great detail can be ascertained. The 1953 RAF Floodlight photography revealed the clearest views of flooded features. Further oyster beds and linears could be seen to the north of the main cluster on some of the floodlight photography, however none of these additional features could be rectified and mapped due to the limitations of individual photographs.
Further oyster beds, NHER 1461, have been recorded to the immediate north of this site at TF 6652 3736. These were probably originally part of the same site, now divided by later drainage channels. These oyster beds are likely to be post medieval in date and may be the fattening grounds recorded at being at Heacham Harbour in 1872, mentioned by Brian Cushion (NLA) in relation to SMR 1460,another oyster site 2km north along the coast.
S. Massey (NMP), 14 March 2002.

Monument Types

  • SALT WORKS (Unknown date)
  • OYSTER BEDS (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Article in Serial: Cushion, B. 1999. Heacham: earthwork vestiges of Norfolk's oyster industry?. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIII Pt II pp 346-350.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TF 63 NE 24.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Miscellaneous. Heacham.
---Designation: NCM Staff. 1950?-1960?. Data submitted with sheduling request. NHER 1462.
<S1>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1571 3302-3 07-JUN-1946 (Norfolk SMR TF 6637B-C).
<S2>Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1953. RAF V.82/707 0639-40 04-FEB-1953 (Norfolk SMR TF 6637B-C).
<S3>Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1953. RAF 540/1007 0124 03-FEB-1953 (Norfolk SMR TF 6637E).
<S4>Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1953. RAF 58/1010 0135 05-FEB-1953 (Norfolk SMR TF 6636E).
<S5>Map: 1781. Heacham Enclosure Award Map.

Related records - none

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