Record Details

NHER Number:3027
Type of record:Find Spot
Name:Palaeolithic flint handaxes and flakes, Lenwade Gravel Pit


Three Palaeolithic flint handaxes and one other Palaeolithic worked flint were recovered at this former quarry in 1959. At least two additional handaxes and a potentially Middle Palaeolithic flint Levallois flake were recovered around the same, most likely at this site or close by. This is one of two sites where Palaeolithic material has been recovered close to the River Wensum at Great Witchingham, the other lying near Walsis Farm, approximately 1km to the south-west (NHER 3028). It is likely that the small number of poorly provenanced Palaeolithic objects from Great Witchingham (NHER 3025) were recovered at, or close to one of these sites.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 099 186
Map Sheet:TG01NE

Full description

1959. Stray Find.
Found by [1] in gravel pit near Lenwade Bridge:
4 Palaeolithic flint handaxes. Donated to Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 1959.204). Information from (S1). Although these objects are listed as 4 handaxes in the museum's records it is possible that one is not a true handaxe - see discussion below. These finds were reported in (S2).

The NCM also saw (and drew) other Palaeolithic objects that had been found by [1] in Great Witchingham around the same time as the above finds. These included another handaxe (S3) and a Levallois flake (S4). It is assumed that these objects are a handaxe and a Levallois flake that were donated to the NCM by [1] the following year (NWHCM : 1960.47). A handaxe in the possession of [2] (the owner of the land but not necessarily the finder) was also seen and drawn by the NCM in 1959 (S5). This handaxe was brought in again in 1966 (when it was held by Great Witchingham School) and redrawn (S6). According to (S1) it was alleged that additional Palaeolithic worked flints were " [the] office at [the] Atlas works". Although these finds may not be from exactly the same location as the first handaxes that were reported to the NCM, it seems reasonably likely that they were from either the same pit, or one of the adjacent pits open at the same time.

All of the above finds were noted were noted by subsequent authors including Roe (S7) and Wymer (S8), although there are clearly some discrepancies that need to be accounted for. These finds appear to be those listed by Roe (S7) as 3 handaxes, 1 "miscellaneous worked fragment" and 1 unretouched flake from Lenwade (all NCM) and 3 handaxes and 2 Levallois flakes with a general Great Witchingham provenance (NCM, [1] and [2]). Wymer (S8) recorded the finds in the NCM as being all probably from the "Lenwade Gravel Pit", listing 4 handaxes, 1 Levallois flake, 1 flake with secondary working and 1 primary flake. The Levallois flake (NWHCM : 1960.47) is illustrated in (S8); see copy of original held by HES (S9). These lists can be reconciled with finds described above as follows:

The unretouched flake listed by Roe (S7) and the primary flake listed by Wymer (S8) are almost certainly an unprovenanced flake from Lenwade that was found in 1946 (see NHER 3025). The handaxes donated by [1] in 1959 are probably Roe's Lenwade finds, suggesting that one was not a true handaxe, but rather the "miscellaneous worked fragment" (and probably the flake with secondary working listed by Wymer). The unprovenanced material from Great Witchingham listed by Roe (S7) almost certainly includes the handaxe and Levallois flake donated to the Norwich Castle Museum by [1] in 1960 and the handaxe that had originally been in the possession of [2]. This does however leave a handaxe and a Levallois flake unaccounted for. The most likely explanation is an error on Roe's part, who may not have realised that the finds reported to the NCM in 1959 were the same as those donated the following year. All of this would account for why Wymer (S8) only lists 4 handaxes as being held by the Norwich Castle Museum.

The finds from this site are also noted on (S10) and in (S11) and (S12), although little additional information is given. The quantifications in (S11) and (S12) should be treated with caution.

Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 20 May 2014.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 1000000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Middle Palaeolithic - 150000 BC? to 40001 BC)

Associated Finds

  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • LEVALLOIS FLAKE (Middle Palaeolithic - 150000 BC? to 40001 BC)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 01 NE 37; TG 11 NW 18.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Palaeolithic.
<S2>Serial: 1959. Council for British Archaeology Group 7 Bulletin of Archaeological Discoveries for 1959. No. 6. p 6.
<S3>Illustration: Howlett, D. R. 1959. Drawing of a Palaeolithic flint handaxe from Great Witchingham. Paper. 1:1.
<S4>Illustration: Howlett, D. R. 1959. Drawing of a Middle Palaeolithic flint Levallois flake from Great Witchingham. Paper. 1:1.
<S5>Illustration: [Norwich Castle Museum staff]. 1959. Drawing of a Palaeolithic flint handaxe from Great Witchingham. Card. 1:1.
<S6>Illustration: Milligan, W. 1966. Drawing of a Palaeolithic flint handaxe from Great Witchingham. Card. 1:1.
<S7>Monograph: Roe, D. A. 1968. A Gazetteer of British Lower and Middle Palaeolithic Sites. CBA Research Report. No 8. p 232.
<S8>Publication: Wymer, J. J. 1985. Palaeolithic Sites of East Anglia.
<S9>Illustration: Wymer, J. J. Drawings of a Middle Palaeolithic flint Levallois flake from Great Witchingham, a small Palaeolithic handaxe from Great Melton and a Palaeolithic handaxe from Suffolk. Card. 1:1.
<S10>Record Card: Wymer, J. J. Wymer Index Card - Palaeolithic. Great Witchingham.
<S11>Unpublished Contractor Report: 1997. The English Rivers Palaeolithic Project. Regions 8 (East Anglian Rivers) and 11 (Trent Drainage). Wessex Archaeology. W&Y-2, No.6.
<S12>Website: TERPS online database. Site 22578.

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