Record Details

NHER Number:5828
Type of record:Monument
Name:Bronze Age barrow and Saxon inhumations at London Hill, Thetford Cemetery on London Road


It is reputed that a circular mound stood at this location and was demolished sometime between 1855 and 1870. The mound is said to have contained several primary cremations within urns as well as twelve secondary Saxon inhumations. Finds in Norwich Castle Museum which may have originated from this barrow include spindle whorls, bone pins, Early Saxon iron knives, a Late Saxo iron key, and a 10th century decorated copper alloy mount.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TL 8647 8246
Map Sheet:TL88SE

Full description

Site of barrow, London Hill, London Road.
A roughly circular mound, demolished around 1855 (previously recorded as demolished 1898). The mound is reputed to have contained burnt bones and flint flakes. It was located southeast of the site of the medieval church of St Margaret (NHER 5908) and northwest of the line of the Icknield Way (NHER 1398).
See (S1-S4) for further details.
Information from (S5).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 06 August 2008.

OS card reads "in 1868 trees were cleared from a tumulus a few yards south of the chapel in the modern cemetery at Thetford, revealing about twelve inhumations oriented with heads to south. Primary cremations were also noted. Interpreted as a BA barrow with Saxon secondaries."
A letter by W.G. Clarke dated 18 February 1923 describes Late Saxon bone pins and a spindle whorl found in a barrow in Thetford, but Clarke's letter may be taken to mean that the items came from one of the Gallows Hill barrows. No trace of barrow in cemetery now.
A. J. Lawson, 1975.
Information from (S5).
Updated H. Hamilton (NLA), 06 August 2008.

A group of finds held by the Norwich Castle Museum are reputed to have been found in a barrow in Thetford, although details are insufficient to determine with certainty whether all or some of them came from the reputed barrow in the London Road cemetery. These finds are part of the (or the entire?) Fitch collection. Amongst the items is a Late Saxon limestone spindle whorl ornamented with interlaced design (probably 9th-10th century) labelled "from tumulus, Thetford, ?in modern cemetery opened 1855 - found 1870" (NCM Fitch coll NWHCM : 1894.76.650, see also S6 p 111 no 10). This is one of four or five spindle whorls found with portions of urns, Early Saxon knives, and a Late Saxon iron key (S6 p 95 no 183). The collection also includes a mid-10th century bronze mount with a zoomorphic design (S7) described as "from the tumulus at Thetford".
These items appear to be the "collection of Saxon antiquities found at Thetford" which was exhibited by Mr. Fitch at the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeology Society meeting on 13 September 1870 (S8), but the published note does not mention that they were found in a tumulus. The entry simply states that the collection consisted of "spindle whirls, an ornamented clasp (?) knife, keys, &c., bone implements, and portions of urns" (S8).
Information from (S5).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 06 August 2008.

August 1935. Site Visit.
Neither Mr. Rickwood, Keeper of Cemetery 1906-22, nor Mr. J.W. Heywood remember anything about a tumulus. The former thought it must have been near the church foundations but on the opposite side of the main path. Approximately at the point marked on the 6 inch Ordnance Survey map there is a circular patch of much greener grass with obviously more chalky and stoney soil about 7 paces in diameter which may possibly indicate the site of a levelled mound (visited 6 August 1935). Unless there is documentary evidence for a date of 1898 as that of its destruction, it would appear more probably that this took place about 1855, soon after the Thetford burial board acquired this plot of land. A small steep mound against the northern hedge of the cemetery about halfway from east-west, now being dug away, is probably a compatatively recent dump.
Information from (S5).
H. D. Hewitt, 6 August 1935.

Monument Types

  • CREMATION (Unknown date)
  • CREMATION (Bronze Age - 2350 BC? to 701 BC?)
  • ROUND BARROW (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • INHUMATION (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)
  • INHUMATION (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS? (Unknown date)
  • POT (Undated)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT (Bronze Age - 2350 BC? to 701 BC?)
  • KNIFE (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • KEY (LOCKING) (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • PIN? (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • SPINDLE WHORL (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • SPINDLE WHORL? (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • MOUNT (Late Saxon - 900 AD to 999 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TL 88 SE 29; TL 88 SE 31.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Bronze Age. Thetford.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Late Saxon. Thetford [2].
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Monograph: Leigh-Hunt, A.. 1870. The Capital of the Ancient Kingdom of East Anglia..
<S2>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. p 328; No 51.
<S3>Article in Serial: Clarke, R. R. 1940. Norfolk in the Dark Ages, 400-800 A.D., Part II. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXVII Pt II pp 215-249. p 240.
<S4>Publication: Meaney, A.. 1964. Gazetteer of Early Anglo-Saxon Burial Sites.
<S5>Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
<S6>Monograph: Rogerson, A. and Dallas, C. 1984. Excavations in Thetford 1948-59 and 1973-80. East Anglian Archaeology. No 22. p 68 No 28; p 95 No 183; p 111 No 10.
<S7>Article in Serial: Kendrick, T. D.. 1938. An Anglo-Saxon Cruet.. The Antiquaries Journal. Vol XVIII, No 4, pp 377-81. Pp 380-381.
<S8>Article in Serial: 1872. Appendix. Extracts from the Proceedings of the Committee. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol VII pp 349-374. p 373.

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