Record Details

NHER Number:32339
Type of record:Monument
Name:Saxon defensive ditch, medieval pits and post-medieval cellars, Library Site


Excavations in 1997 in advance of a proposed extension to Thetford Library recorded evidence for occupation from the Late Saxon to the post-medieval period. The most significant feature was a deep ditch believed to form part of a defensive structure that ringed the northern part of the town in the Late Saxon period. Medieval activity was represented by several pits which contained bone and horn-working debris, and the cellars of a 17th century building were encountered. The cellars are believed to have been associated with a building known as Manor House which stood at this location until the 1960's, when the current library was constructed.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TL 8708 8296
Map Sheet:TL88SE

Full description

February-March 1997. Trial Trench.
Evaluation excavation in advance of reconstruction works.
This work revealed a wide, deep ditch with a distinct re-cut which likely dates to the 12th century. It is believed that this feature formed part of the Anglo-Saxon defensive circuit around the northern perimeter of the town. Two shaft-like pits have also been dated to the 11th to 12th century. Occupation continued into the medieval period. A chalk-lined pit of this date cut through the backfills of the Saxon ditch and a complex of six inter-cutting pits located north-west of the ditch contained medieval pottery. The faunal remains recovered from these medieval features indicates bone and horn-working as well as possible tanning activities on the site, which is situated at the end of Tanner Street. The pottery assemblage for the site includes Late Saxon sandy coarse wares which may have been imported from West Suffolk and medieval Grimston (King's Lynn), Stamford (Lincolnshire), and Hedingham (Essex) wares as well as a single sherd which may have originated in Ardenne in the Meuse valley. Remains of late medieval or early post-medieval buildings (some possibly 17th century) which lined the School Lane street frontage were also recorded. These included two structures which were likely cellars and a possible latrine. It is believed that much of these remains may be associated with a dwelling of medieval origins known as the Manor House which stood at this location, facing onto Well Street, until the 1960's when the present library was erected.
See reports (S1) and (S2) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S3).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 03 July 2008.

Monument Types

  • DITCH (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • PIT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • TOWN DEFENCES (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • DITCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PIT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TOWN DEFENCES (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CELLAR (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • PRIVY HOUSE? (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • POT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • WORKED OBJECT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • LOOMWEIGHT? (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WORKED OBJECT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Fiche: Exists.
<S1>Unpublished Contractor Report: Crowson, A. 1997. Thetford Library Car Park. Site 32339 THD. Interim Report. Norfolk Archaeological Unit.
<S2>Unpublished Contractor Report: Crowson, A. 1999. Evaluation Excavation of Thetford Town Library Car Park. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 272.
<S3>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 1998. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1997. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIII Pt I pp 193-210. p 207.
<S4>Photograph: 1997. Excavation at Thetford Town Library Car Park. Plates accompanying interim report by A. Crowson (SNF 70444).. Print, b&w.

Related records - none

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