Record Details

NHER Number:5303
Type of record:Find Spot
Name:Palaeolithic handaxes, Wilton

Summary

A significant number of Palaeolithic flint handaxes were recovered from this former quarry pit as it was been expanded during the late 19th century. A number of individuals appear to have recovered material from this pit and around 30 of the handaxes found survive in various museum collections. This assemblage includes a high proportion of cordate and ovate forms and it has been noted that their condition is much less rolled than those found at the nearby Shrub Hill pit in Feltwell (NHER 5292). It is now thought likely that (as with the material from Shrub Hill) this assemblage was derived from gravels associated with the lost Bytham River, and therefore the result of activity during a warm period prior to the Anglian glaciation (that is, prior to c. 500 ka BP).

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TL 7500 8856
Map Sheet:TL78NE
Parish:HOCKWOLD CUM WILTON, WEST NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

RECORDED DISCOVERIES

Late 19th century. Stray Finds.
A significant number of Palaeolithic flint handaxes are recorded as having come from either 'Wilton' or 'Wilton Hill'. It appears that most, if not all, of these objects are believed to have been recovered in this pit. These finds were recovered from the late 19th century onwards, suggesting that they came from the western half of the quarry, which appears to have been being worked around this time.

The handaxes from this site include three that were recovered by Colonel H. W. Feilden in 1884, that were recorded as being from "river gravels". Information from (S1). Feilden described these as "rather indifferent specimens" in a paper published in 1887 (S2). It appears that the discoveries made around this time are the reason that "Wilton" was listed by Clarke in (S3) as a location that had produced Palaeolithic implements prior to 1907. Other known finders include Colonel B. C. P. Hamilton, who exhibited an object described as "…a chipped and rubbed axe, patinated white..." from Wilton at a meeting of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia in 1919 (S4). Although this object (which had been found in 1883) was almost certainly a Neolithic polished axe, he also exhibited a number of Palaeolithic "drift" implements that had been found at Wilton by the Rev. W. Weller-Pooley. These included "…a massive Chelles axe, a small axe, an ovate, and an implement chipped to a flat base and humped in the middle of the top, 4 1/4 in. long by 2 1/4 in. broad and 1 1/2 in. high at the hump".

FINDS IN MUSEUM COLLECTIONS

Several museums hold Palaeolithic implements that were found in Hockwold cum Wilton during the late 19th century and early 20th century. It is assumed that those recorded as being from Wilton were recovered at this site, which is also the likely source of the more poorly provenanced material from the parish (recorded in more detail under NHER 5304).

Roe (S5) lists 21 handaxes from Wilton, held by the Norwich Castle Museum (NCM), the British Museum and the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (CUMAA). Wymer (S7) lists a total of 20 handaxes from this site; 5 in the British Museum and 15 in the CUMAA.

Norwich Castle Museum:
The Norwich Castle Museum holds 3 handaxes that were found at Wilton by Feilden, presumably the objects noted by (S5). Although (S2) suggests that Fielden's finds were indeed probably from the Gravelpit Wood pit, they were not mentioned by Wymer in his discussion of the site in (S7). It is however noted on (S6) that these object were "all rolled", suggesting that they were possibly excluded from the analysis due to their poor condition.

Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (CUMAA):
Wymer identified 15 handaxes in this museum. These handaxes are noted on (S1) and are likely to include the 14 objects currently recorded in the museum's records as either handaxes or bifaces (1898.84-85; 1898.87; Z 15129.1-3; Z 15129.5; Z 29289; 1922.1577). The fifteenth object is either a handaxe from "Hockwold" (Z 31285) or an object from Wilton listed as a "core" (Z 15129.4). Both of these objects may be included in the totals given by Roe. It is clear from the museum's records that most (if not all) of these objects were found during the 1880s and 1890s (at least two by Feilden).

British Museum:
The 5 handaxes in the British Museum listed by Wymer are in the Sturge Collection (2011,8109.736) and are the only Palaeolithic objects from Hockwold that are held by this museum. It is clear from Wymer's record cards (S6) that only 2 are actually marked as being from Wilton. This would tally with Roe's list, which records the other 3 handaxes as being unprovenanced Hockwold cum Wilton finds (these are now recorded under NHER 5304).

Thetford Museum:
A note on (S1) indicates that the Thetford Museum also holds Palaeolithic material from Wilton, donated by "Colonel Hamilton". This appears to be a reference to a collection of 11 "Palaeolithic brown-stained handaxes" that were acquired by the museum in the 1920s (THEHM : 1975.309). These have been mistakenly listed as coming from 'Witton', but are almost certainly from this site as reference is made to (S4) and the brief notes in the museum records correspond with the published descriptions of Rev. Weller-Pooley's finds. A number of these artefacts are recorded as having been found in 1882. Finds at Thetford Museum are also noted by (S6) - apparently a reference to information compiled for (S5).

THE PALAEOLITHIC ASSEMBLAGE

Wymer remains the only researcher to have made a detailed examination of the material from this site (albeit only considering the finds in the BM and the CUMAA). In (S7) he notes that the elevation of this site is much more in accordance with that of the Palaeolithic sites at Broomhill (NHER 5642), Brandon, Wangford and Lakenham, than with the nearby Shrub Hill site (NHER 5292). The handaxe assemblage is also different to that recovered at Shrub Hill, with a high proportion of cordate and ovate forms present and the pieces being in a much less rolled condition. It is however no thought that, as at Shrub Hill, the Wilton assemblage was derived from gravels associated with the lost Bytham River (S8), and therefore the result of activity during a warm period prior to the Anglian glaciation (that is, prior to c. 500 ka BP).

This site is also listed in (S9) and (S10), although no additional information is given.

Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 16 November 2013 and 21 November 2014.

RECENT EVENTS

15 August 1984. Field Visit.
Site visited by J. J. Wymer. Overgrown with mature conifers, c. 20' [6m] high. Pit edges still visible.
Information from (S6).
P. Watkins (HES), 30 January 2016.

ADDENDUM

An Early Saxon pendant found at this site is now recorded under NHER 59914.

Monument Types

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

Associated Finds

  • CORE? (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)
  • 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)
  • 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)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TL 78 NW 15.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
<S1>Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Palaeolithic.
<S2>Article in Serial: Feilden, H. W. 1888. Note on Stone Implements found in Norfolk. Transactions of the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists' Society. Vol IV Pt IV (for 1887-88) pp 516-518. p 518.
<S3>Article in Serial: Clarke, W. G. 1907. The Distribution of Flint and Bronze Implements in Norfolk. Transactions of the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists' Society. Vol VIII Pt III (for 1906-1907) pp 393-409. p 396.
<S4>Article in Serial: 1919. Summary of Proceedings. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. Vol III Pt I (for 1918-19) pp 162-164. p 162.
<S5>Monograph: Roe, D. A. 1968. A Gazetteer of British Lower and Middle Palaeolithic Sites. CBA Research Report. No 8. p 233.
<S6>Record Card: Wymer, J. J. Wymer Index Card - Palaeolithic. Hockwold cum Wilton (Wilton).
<S7>Publication: Wymer, J. J. 1985. Palaeolithic Sites of East Anglia. p 81; Typology Chart No 6.
<S8>Publication: Wymer, J. 1999. The Lower Palaeolithic Occupation of Britain. p 32.
<S9>Unpublished Contractor Report: 1996. The English Rivers Palaeolithic Project. Regions 9 (Great Ouse) and 12 (Yorkshire and the Lincolnshire Wolds). Wessex Archaeology. LLO-4, No. 30.
<S10>Website: TERPS online database. Site 23041.

Related records - none

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