Record Details

NHER Number:4304
Type of record:Building
Name:50 to 56 Howard Street; Howard Street vaults


A 12th century barrel-vaulted undercroft, with additional chambers dating to the 15th century, lies underneath a row of houses dating to about 1900. An evaluation carried out by the Norfolk Archaeological Unit in 2001 revealed several different medieval and post medieval floor surfaces, as well as the original floor of the 12th century vault. Another vaulted chamber was discovered below the 15th century part of the undercroft, which probably dates to the early medieval period.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 5240 0743
Map Sheet:TG50NW

Full description

Romanesque secular undercroft, with 14th-century brick vault attached under 50 to 56 Howard Street South (late 18 to 19th century house).

Excavation by Great Yarmouth Archaeological Society.

1987. Partial excavation and Survey.
Carried out by B.S. Ayers (NAU) and helpers before consolidation. Revealed a 12th century barrel vaulted undercroft, truncated at west end, with five attached brick vaults which are 15th, not 14th century. Photographic survey, drawn plans and sections made. Excavation confined to sections of brick vaults that needed underpinning. Mortar floors uncovered as well as possible compacted pebble floor.
See published article (S1) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S6).
B.S. Ayers (NAU) January 1988.

According to (S1) the houses above in fact date to between 1885 and 1904.

October 2001. Trial Trenching.
From Context 100.
An archaeological excavation of four test pits within a 12th and 15th century medieval vaulted undercroft revealed a succession of medieval and post medieval floor surfaces, bedding layers and refuse dumps. The base of the wall of the 12th century vault was exposed and the original floor level located. The base of a wall in the 15th century vault was also uncovered and medieval floor levels were revealed. A lower, probably post medieval, vault was discovered beneath the southern 15th century chamber. Two auger samples of ground layers adjacent to the vaults (taken by consultant engineers) were monitored for potential archaeological deposits.
See report (S2) for details. Work also noted in (S5).
The associated archive has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2011.377).
D. Gurney (NLA), 17 January 2001. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 16 May 2019.

April 2002.
Examination by E. Rose (NLA) showed that an extra 15th century chamber exists below the present undercroft.
Adjacent houses examined; traces of medieval work found in ground floors south of undercroft.
See (S3).
See also (S4).
E. Rose (NLA), 30 April 2002.

Monument Types

  • UNDERCROFT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HOUSE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1975. Vaults may be 600 years old. 22 December.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1977. Old Yarmouth. 16 November.
---Drawing: Various. Various. Architectural plans.
---Article in Monograph: Ayers, B. 2002. Recent Archaeological Research into Secular Romanesque Buildings in Norfolk. The Medieval House in Normandy and England: proceedings of seminars in Rouen and Norwich. Pitte, D. and Ayers, B. (eds). pp 69-76.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Unpublished Document: Bullock, D.. 1978. Excavation of 12th century vault and surveying of undercrofts below 51 - 56 Howard Street South, Great Yarmouth.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1989. Unveiling a buried treasure. 11 June.
---Unpublished Document: Rutledge, P.. 1977. 12th century vaulted undercroft, Howard Street, Great Yarmouth.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1976. Expert called in to probe vaults. 1 May.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Yarmouth (Great).
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Fiche: Exists.
---Photograph: ECY, ECZ, EHA-B.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
<S1>Article in Serial: Ayers, B. and Smith, R. 1992. Twelfth- and Fifteenth-Century Undercrofts at Howard Street, Great Yarmouth. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol LXI Pt III pp 338-350.
<S2>Unpublished Contractor Report: Hobbs, B. 2001. Report on an Archaeological Excavation at Howard Street Vaults, 50-56 Howard Street, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 648.
<S3>Unpublished Document: Rose, E.. 2002. Building Report.. Building Report.
<S4>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 2003. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk, 2002. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIV Pt II pp 368-384. p 372.
<S5>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 2002. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk, 2001. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIV Pt I pp 162-177. p 167.
<S6>Article in Serial: Youngs, S. M., Clark, J., Gaimster, D. R. M. and Barry, T.. 1988. Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1987. Medieval Archaeology. Vol XXXII pp 225-314. p 263.

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