Record Details

NHER Number:5962
Type of record:Monument
Name:Snarehill Hall, Great Snarehill Church and deserted settlement


A Late Saxon parish church and and cemetery, which was the church of the deserted medieval settlement of Great Snarehill. The remains of the church are now incorporated into the stables of Snarehill Hall, which was built in the 18th century. The area around the church has been excavated by the Norfolk Archaeological Unit, and a large number of burials dating from the Late Saxon to the medieval period were found.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TL 8915 8350
Map Sheet:TL88SE

Full description

Remains of Late Saxon church incorporated into Snarehill Hall, on the site of deserted medieval village of Great Snarehill. Domesday Book records two settlements of Snarehill, neither now survive, and the village of Great Snarehill is thought to have been on this site. See NHER 5965 for the site of the deserted settlement of Little Snarehill.

Hall dates from the late 18th century, with simple Classical details, and an early 19th century extension.
Barn dates from around 1700, and is timber framed.
See (S1).

The stables of the Hall incorporate the remains of a Late Saxon church, an important survival in the ecclesiastical history of Norfolk.
The entire west wall of the nave is standing, with a partly blocked pointed window.
The west gable wall is visible in the hayloft of the adjacent barn.
The outline of the chancel arch is visible underneath the plastered wall of the stable, but the chancel itself has been destroyed.
The presence of an axial tower inbetween the nave and chancel is suggested by the thickness of the walls, which would make the plan of the church unusual for its date.
The church dates to the mid 11th century, before the Conquest, when the prosperity of the nearby town of Thetford was at its height, and was abandoned by the 16th century at the latest, and probably much earlier.
Excavation has revealed the eastern limits of the church, and many burials were found.
See (S2) and (S3).
S. Spooner (NLA) August 2005

23 August 1985.
Inhumations found, dating from between the 11th and 16th centuries, at the latest.
See (S4).
E. Rose (NAU) 25 May 1990.

1993. Watching Brief.
During the construction of gun room, revealed human remains which date from the 11th to the 16th centuries and a possible grave noted in the sections. This could indicate that could possibly be part of the graveyard associated with the church.
See report (S5) for details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S10) and (S11).
E. Rose (NAU) 25 May 1990 amended by M. Langham-Lopez (HES), 8 July 2013.

May-July 2001. Excavation and Architectural Survey.
From Context 100.
Programme of excavation and building recording undertaken prior to the construction of a new cottage immediately to the east of the disused church.
The excavations which took place here in 2001 revealed intercutting graves dating from the Late Saxon to the medieval period. The human skeletal remains recovered from these graves was remarkably well-preserved and related to a minimum of 131 individuals, including 89 articulated skeletons. Evidence for burial practice was limited, although some of the earliest burials in the sequence appeared to have had small chalk blocks placed at strategic locations around the body, perhaps reflecting an Anglo-Saxon tradition. At least six burials were observed to lie beneath the east wall of the church, strongly suggesting the presence of an earlier church on the site.
A large number of burials had been disturbed during the construction of a cellar belonging to an 18th century cottage, and these had been deliberated re-interred under the doorway of the cottage, perhaps indicating a superstitious practice of some sort.
The survey of the eastern wall of the church revealed that it had been rendered with horsehair plaster. In some areas the original flintwork of the church wall was visible. Five large sherds of Thetford-type ware were recovered from the foundations of this wall, and indicate a 10th or 11th century construction date for this.
Documentary sources highlight gaps in our understanding of the church and two settlements of Great and Little Snarehill. The use of the prefixes Great and Little appears to have been a relatively modern designation, as apart from the Domesday Survey, no reference to the existence of two separate settlements is ever made. This may indicate that one of the settlements became so small that it ceased to be considered a separate entity, or even disappeared completely. It is also possible that upon donation to Thetford Priory, the two became considered as one, possibly quite dispersed, settlement.
See published article (S6) and assessment report (S7) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S8).
The associated archive has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2016.413).
D. Gurney (NLA), 26 March 2002. Updated by A. Cattermole (HES), 20 July 2011 and P. Watkins (HES), 17 May 2019.

March 2010. Norfolk NMP.
The earthworks of possible medieval ridge and furrow and medieval to post medieval boundaries and an enclosure visible on aerial photographs within Snarehill Hall Park have been recorded under NHER 53457. See record for details. It is possible that these possible that some or all of these earthworks are associated with the medieval settlement of Great Snarehill. See NHER 53457 for details.
S. Horlock (NMP), 12 March 2009.

August 2001. Planning Application.
Partial demolition of cottage and erection of dwelling plus chauffeurs accommodation.
See (S9).
Z. Dack (HES), 23 December 2011.

Monument Types

  • DITCH (Prehistoric - 1000000 BC to 42 AD)
  • CEMETERY (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • CHURCH (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • DITCH (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • CEMETERY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • DESERTED SETTLEMENT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • DITCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • AISLED BARN (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • GREAT HOUSE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Unknown date)
  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • RETOUCHED FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT (Middle Saxon - 651 AD to 850 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • KNIFE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • NAIL (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • POT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • SPINDLE WHORL (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • COIN (Late Saxon - 1036 AD to 1037 AD)
  • FINGER RING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • KNIFE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • NAIL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TEXTILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building
  • Listed Building
  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D. A. (NLA). 1977. NHER TL 8983C (NLA 47/AJF8) 21-JUL-1977.
---Article in Serial: Allison, K. J. 1955. The Lost Villages of Norfolk. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXXI pp 116-162. p 157.
---Monograph: Batcock, N.. 1988. The Parish Church in Norfolk. Minsters and Parish Churches.. p 184.
---Aerial Photograph: TF 9502/ Q, R, S, T, U, V.
---Unpublished Document: Rose, E. (NLA). 2001. Building Report.. Building Report.
---Illustration: Various. Various. Architectural plans.
---Photograph: Rose, E.. 2001. JXT 5-19.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TL 88 SE 42 [3].
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Photograph: 2001. KAT-KAZ.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N and Wilson, W. 1999. Norfolk 2: North-West and South. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. p 653.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Late Saxon. Brettenham.
---Article in Serial: Moore, N. 1964. Recently Discovered Cruck Roofs in Norfolk. Norfolk Research Committee Bulletin. Series 1 No 15 (for 1963) p 2.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Fiche: Exists.
---Photograph: CYA 9-10.
<S1>Designation: English Heritage. National Heritage List for England.
<S2>Monograph: Batcock, N. 1991. The Ruined and Disused Churches of Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 51. Microfiche 5:G12. No 81; pp 52, 127-131.
<S3>*Verbal Communication: Various. 2001. Email.
<S4>Unpublished Document: McKinley, J. I.. 1986. Human remains from Great Snarehill.
<S5>Unpublished Contractor Report: Penn, K. 1993. Report of a Watching Brief at Snarehill Hall, Norfolk. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 17.
<S6>Article in Serial: Whitmore, D. 2010. A Late Saxon and Medieval Cemetery: Excavations at Snarehill Hall, Brettenham, 2001. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLVI Pt I pp 71-83.
<S7>Unpublished Contractor Report: Whitmore, D. 2002. Snarehill Hall, Brettenham: Assessment Report and Updated Project Design. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 652.
<S8>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 164.
<S9>Unpublished Document: 2011. Planning Application.
<S10>Article in Serial: Nenk, B. S., Margeson, S. and Hurley, M. 1994. Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1993. Medieval Archaeology. Vol XXXVIII pp 184-293. p 236.
<S11>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1994. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1993. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt I pp 115-123. p 116.

Related records

53457Parent of: Earthworks of possible medieval ridge and furrow and enclosures (Monument)

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