Record Details

NHER Number:4233
Type of record:Monument
Name:Roman salt works, canal and field system


A series of Roman fields, enclosures and turbaries are visible on aerial photographs. In 1993 an excavation by the Norfolk Archaeological Unit, which included a Roman saltworks, NHER 4235, also revealed a ditched field system and a Roman canal, both dating to the 3rd century. Large amounts of Roman pottery and building material, and a statue base have been found on the site.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TF 57 00
Map Sheet:TF50SE

Full description

1956 or 1957.
Soilmarks of possible Roman fields on Cambridge University Committee for Aerial Photograph aerial photographs dated 9th July 1946, traced by R. R. Clarke (NCM) around Middle Yard Cottages (formerly Straw Hall).
These are best shown on NAU aerial photograph's, see (S1) and (S2).

July 1976.
In box left behind by C. J. S. Green(NCM) were found in 1978; 15 sherds including shellyware, colour coated, Samian, daub or brick fragment.
Identified by A. Rogerson (NAU)

Roman and post medieval material from fieldwalking.
See (S3).
No card received and none found at NCM.
E. Rose (NAU) 6 March 1987.

29 March 1988. Fenland fieldwalking.
A few odd fragments of Roman pottery from southeast end of field at [1].
Context 2. Weathered ploughed, good.
R. Silvester (NAU) 29 March 1988.

For full details of wares, flint types etc. see (S4).

6 August 1988. Commercial air photography.
Extensive area of cropmarks including fields/enclosures and tracks in km square [2].
Very clearly visible on colour vertical aerial photograph taken during NCC/BKS survey of Norfolk, 1988.
M. Flitcroft (NLA), 24 February 1993.

October 1982. Stray Find.
Hit by plough at [3] (Context 3) and dug up by farmer:
Stone column base, 46cm square, 24cm high with concave top edges. See drawing (S6).
Provisionally identified as Barnack stone.
British Museum suggest that the stone column base is in fact post-medieval.
Stone column base confirmed as acceptable Roman form, as pier support or statue pedestal.
How did it get here? ?Ballast on adjacent canal?
D. Gurney (NLA) 22 November 1993.

December 1993.
A second square moulded base, almost identical to that found earlier, hit by plough and dug up by tenant farmer.
From area of Context 4, adjacent to Old Bedford River.
D. Gurney (NLA) 17 December 1993.

1993. Excavation.
Excavation of site NHER 4235 extended into this area at [4] and revealed Roman field system dated by pottery in the ditches to 3rd/4th century AD.

This work revealed all elements of the Fen Causeway in section.
A layer of rammed briquetage was submerged by water (lain silts and clays). Natural material and more briquetage was heaped upon this to form a domed bank nearly 1 metre high. Rammed orange gravel was used for the first metalled roadway, possibly by the late 1st century.
A canal to the north parallel to the road. The canal bank produced late 1st/early 2nd century pottery. The canal functional into the 3rd century.
2nd century pottery recovered from dumped briquetage waste indicative that the production of salt was taking place in the vicinity.

See reports (S5) and (S8) and NHER 4235 for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S9).
E. Rose (NLA) 29 March 1996 and J. Allen (NLA) 14 September 2000.

22 July 1996. NLA air photography.
Previously recorded cropmarks clearly visible.
In addition to these a ring ditch contained within a further rectilinear enclosure (itself on a different alignment) can be seen. (NGR centre of ring ditch: [5]).
H. Clare (NLA), 4 January 2002.

25 July 1996. NLA air photography.
Cropmarks of field system, enclosures and turburies still visble.
Also present is a square ditched enclosure to the northwest of the site around [6]. This enclosure appears to be on a slightly different alignment to the Roman enclosures and fields. Located within this square enclosure is a ring ditch. This may be Bronze Age. It is not clear whether the ring ditch and enclosure are directly related.
S. Massey (NLA), 22 November 2001.

April and July 2003. Metal detecting.
Site extended slightly to east.
1 Roman coin.
Bronze Age awl, (S7).
Roman sherds, glass bead and vessel, and metal objects.
3 Early Saxon sherds.
Post medieval metal objects.
See 22 scanned Suffolk Archaeological Service Portable Antiquities Scheme Database sheets including scanned images and drawing in file and PAS import.
A. Rogerson (NLA), 27 September 2004 and A. Cattermole (HES), 10 October 2012.

Monument Types

  • RING DITCH (Unknown date)
  • SQUARE ENCLOSURE (Unknown date)
  • RING DITCH (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • BANK (EARTHWORK) (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • BUILDING (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • CANAL (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • DITCH (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • ENCLOSURE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FIELD SYSTEM (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FIELD SYSTEM (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • ROAD (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • SALT WORKS (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • LINEAR FEATURE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Undated)
  • FISH REMAINS (Undated)
  • METAL WORKING DEBRIS (Unknown date)
  • AWL (Late Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 2500 BC to 800 BC)
  • AWL (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • AMPHORA (Roman to Early Saxon - 43 AD to 410 AD)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • BEAD (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • BRICK (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • BRIQUETAGE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • BROOCH (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • COIN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • VESSEL (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • COIN (Roman - 49 AD to 61 AD)
  • VESSEL (Roman - 70 AD to 150 AD)
  • BOW BROOCH (Roman - 100 AD to 250 AD)
  • PLATE BROOCH (Roman - 100 AD to 300 AD)
  • POT (Roman to Early Saxon - 150 AD to 410 AD)
  • POT (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • POT (Early Saxon - 450 AD to 650 AD)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • SPUR (16th Century to 17th Century - 1540 AD? to 1700 AD)
  • SPUR (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • SUNDIAL (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • SUNDIAL (16th Century to 17th Century - 1550 AD to 1700 AD)

Protected Status


Sources and further reading

---*Fieldwork: Fenland Survey. DMW AM. FENS.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TF 50 SE 3.
---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 - Roman. Downham (West).
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
<S1>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. TF 5700ADG - ADH. TF 50 SE 3.
<S2>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. TF 5700ACM - ADF; TF 5600M - R.
<S3>Map: NCM. NCM Record Map.
<S4>Archive: Fenland Folders.
<S5>Article in Serial: Crowson, A.. 1994. Excavation of the Fen Causeway at Straw Hall Farm.. Fenland Research. pp 24ff.
<S6>Illustration: [Unknown]. [Unknown]. Isometric drawing of a Roman stone column base. Paper. 1:10.
<S7>Illustration: [Unknown]. [Unknown]. Drawing of a Bronze Age copper alloy awl. Card. 2:1.
<S8>Monograph: Crowson, A., Lane, T. and Reeve, J. (eds). 2000. Fenland Management Project Excavations 1991-1995. Lincolnshire Archaeology and Heritage Reports Series. No 3. pp 167, 197-202.
<S9>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1994. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1993. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt I pp 115-123. p 117.

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