Record Details

NHER Number:5794
Type of record:Monument
Name:Prehistoric potboilers and Iron Age pottery, Barnham Common sand pit


In 1914 a prehistoric pot boiler site was recorded at this location. These layers of charcoal and burnt stones were associated with an assemblage of handmade pottery, identified at the time as Iron Age.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TL 868 814
Map Sheet:TL88SE

Full description

1914. Field Observation.
Just below 15.3m (50ft) contour, on west bank of Little Ouse in sand pit.
Pot boiler (cooking places) and living floor with fragmentary handmade sherds 'AB - 1st century BC - not Aylesford' (W.G. Clarke) charcoal of oak, beech and a single twig of salix repens (identified by C. Reid, 1914). Information from (S1).

1914 - further information.
A black layer, from 0.3m (6in) to 0.6m (1ft) in depth, marked an old land-surface at an average depth of 1.2m (2ft) from the surface. In five places the sand appeared to have been baked red and hard, and in one such 'cooking place' there was a saucer-shaped layer of pot-boilers. At another location there was an almost solid mass of charcoal. About 4 yards from the charcoal deposit was a cooking place which was remarkable for the number of pottery sherds it contained. The cooking place consisted of an oval area of black sand with a maximum length of 1.8m (6ft) and a depth in the centre of 0.4m (16in). The charcoal was of beech (identified by C. Reid). Fragmentary animal remains were discovered in this location, including fragments of an ox skull, and teeth belonging to a small ox and a sheep. Over 50 pottery sherds were recovered, representing at least 10 different vessels. These sherds were described as "…undoubtedly of Early Iron Age date", although parallels were noted with "Late Celtic pedestalled urns and pots" from Colchester and a 1st century BC date suggested for the site. The exact date of this material must therefore be seen as uncertain at present.
Information from (S2). According to (S1) this site is also mentioned in (S3), (S4) and (S5).
Six pottery sherds from this site are held by the Thetford Museum (THEHM : 1977.370) and more than 10 are held by the Norwich Castle Museum; the latter transferred from the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in 1955 (NWHCM : 1955.179.14 : A).
A. Cattermole (NLA), 15 July 2008. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 21 June 2013.

It should be noted that there is a degree of uncertainty regarding the exact location of these discoveries. The area known as either Barnham Cross Common or Barnham Common appears to have extended south of the county boundary and it is possible that these discoveries were made in Suffolk, particularly as (S2) is titled "Two North-West Suffolk Floors". The sand-pit is also described in (S2) as being 150 yards (137m) in length and there is no evidence that a pit of this scale ever existed in the Norfolk part of Barnham Cross Common.
P. Watkins (HES), 21 June 2013.

A Palaeolithic handaxe previously recorded as coming from this site is now detailed under NHER 5797 (there being no clear evidence that it came from this precise location).
P. Watkins (HES), 21 June 2013.

Monument Types

  • BURNT MOUND (Prehistoric - 1000000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Prehistoric - 1000000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • HEARTH? (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)

Associated Finds

  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT BOILER (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT (Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---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 - Iron Age.
<S2>Article in Serial: Clarke, W. G. 1915. Two North-West Suffolk Floors. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. Vol II Pt I (for 1914-15) pp 39-41.
<S3>Publication: Clarke, W.G.. MSS.
<S4>Publication: Fox, C. 1923. The Archaeology of the Cambridge Region: a topographical study of the Bronze, Early Iron, Roman, and Anglo-Saxon Ages, with an introductory note on the Neolithic Age. Vol III, Map III.
<S5>Article in Serial: Clarke, R. R. 1939. The Iron Age in Norfolk and Suffolk. The Archaeological Journal. Vol XCVI pp 1-113. p 102.

Related records - none

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