Parish Summary: Boughton

This Parish Summary is an overview of the large amount of information held for the parish, and only selected examples of sites and finds in each period are given. It has been beyond the scope of the project to carry out detailed research into the historical background, documents, maps or other sources, but we hope that the Parish Summaries will encourage users to refer to the detailed records, and to consult the bibliographical sources referred to below. Feedback and any corrections are welcomed by email to

Boughton is a small parish in the southwest of Norfolk close to the fen edge. The parish is north of Stoke Ferry and west of Oxborough. The name probably derives from 'enclosure or farmstead belonging to ‘Bucca’. The settlement is mentioned in the Domesday Book – previous to 1066 Thorkell and Aethelgyth held land here, evidence that the village existed in the Saxon period. The parish is particularly rich in prehistoric archaeology that may be because of its position close to the fen edge. People living here during prehistory could take advantage of the fen land resources whilst maintaining links to the higher land more suitable for agriculture. 

Drawing of a Neolithic polished flint axehead from Boughton.

A Neolithic polished flint axehead from Boughton. (©NCC)

The earliest prehistoric evidence is several Neolithic axeheads that have been found within the parish (NHER 4382, 4383 and 15131). There is also plentiful evidence of activity in the Bronze Age including a Middle Bronze Age hoard of metal objects including a pin and two spearheads that were recovered in the 1800s (NHER 2602). A separate find of a Bronze Age axehead (NHER 12589) and a possible Bronze Age ring ditch (NHER 16535) are further confirmation that there was plentiful activity here during this period. Reports suggest that hoarding activity continued into the Iron Age when hoards were often deposited in wet and waterlogged places on the fen edge. A hoard of many Iron Age coins contained in a pot (NHER 20534) has been reportedly found in this parish but full details are unknown. 

There is also evidence for activity here in the Roman period – Roman pottery has been recovered at several sites (NHER 4385 and 41306) and analysis of aerial photographs has revealed linear and rectangular features that may be Roman in date (NHER 35467). Several important Saxon finds have been made in Boughton. Evidence for Late Saxon occupation (NHER 33298) at a site where many metal finds and pottery have been recovered fit well with the evidence for pre conquest occupation from the Domesday Book. A Viking gold wire ring (NHER 17619) is possible evidence for settlement of these invaders in this area.   

All Saints' Church, Boughton.

All Saints' Church, Boughton. (©NCC)

The settlement continued to grow in the medieval period - All Saints’ Church (NHER 4426) was built in the 1300s, but was heightened in the Perpendicular period. The church was damaged by fire in the 1800s and was completely rebuilt in 1872 incorporating some of the older walling. There is also evidence for an earlier church on the same site. Medieval settlement has been identified from spreads of pottery and metal objects within the parish (NHER 33298). 

The most modern archaeology from the parish is a Royal Observation Corps site (NHER 35431) that was used to monitor aircraft activity during the Second World War and then later converted into a monitoring station that would be used in the event of a nuclear attack to measure fall out levels. 

Megan Dennis (NLA), 15th August 2005. 


Further Reading

Brown, P. (ed.), 1984. Domesday Book, 33 Norfolk, Part I and Part II (Chichester, Philimore)

Mills, A.D., 1998. Dictionary of English Place Names (Oxford, Oxford University Press)

Rye, J., 2000. A Popular Guide to Norfolk Place-names (Dereham,The Larks Press)

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