Parish Summary: Hemblington

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

Hemblington is a small parish in the Broadland district of Norfolk. Situated between Blofield and South Walsham there are only seventeen records in the database recording archaeological finds, sites and buildings. Nevertheless this does not necessarily mean that there has been less activity here in the past. The village name derives from Old English and has been translated as ‘enclosure of Hemele’s people’. The village is also recorded in the Domesday Book. This suggests the settlement may have had Saxon origins. Despite the lack of records for the parish there is evidence for activity here from the Mesolithic period.

The earliest recorded archaeological finds from the parish are a scatter of Mesolithic worked flints (NHER 31238). Interestingly these include spalls – waste from flint working that must have been taking place in the Mesolithic on this field. There is also other evidence for Mesolithic activity nearby. A Mesolithic flaked flint axehead (NHER 12634) has also been recovered. A Bronze Age axehead has been found (NHER 41894) and there is some suggestion that metalworking was taking place in the parish at this time. A piece of copper alloy metal working debris (NHER 29737) has been tentatively dated to the Bronze Age.

There is very little evidence for activity in the parish in the Roman period. A single piece of Roman pottery (NHER 31238) has been recovered by fieldwalking. There is a similar lack of evidence for the Saxon period. From the same site an Early Saxon bead, a piece of Middle Saxon pottery and fragments of Late Saxon pottery (NHER 31238) were found. There was, however, no concentration of material that indicated settlement or intensive activity. It is possible that the Saxon settlement was concentrated around All Saints’ Church (NHER 8521). The Saxon building material used in the round tower of the church suggests that it was either built in the Late Saxon period or that there was an earlier Saxon church on the same site or nearby. 

Photograph of bricks, medieval to post medieval pieces of pot and wasters on a light coloured soilmark in a field in Hemblington. This may be the site of a medieval to post medieval pottery works.

Bricks, medieval to post medieval pieces of pot and wasters on a light coloured soilmark in a field in Hemblington. This may be the site of a medieval to post medieval pottery works.

The rest of the church was built in the 14th and 15th centuries. Fieldwalking on a large field just north of Hemblington Hall Road identified several areas of discoloured soil and many pieces of medieval pottery and wasters produced during pottery production. This may be the site of a medieval to post medieval pottery works (NHER 31238). Gables Farm (NHER 13314) is an important late medieval first floor hall that was extended in 1731. Metal detecting and fieldwalking have also recovered other evidence for activity in the medieval period. Several medieval coins (NHER 17428, 28513 and 29737) have been found. A medieval copper alloy pendant (NHER 28558) and part of a medieval copper alloy vessel (NHER 30338) have also been recorded.

The sites of several post medieval buildings can be seen on old maps. Petty watermill (NHER 15619) is shown on Faden’s map of 1797 whilst a brick kiln (NHER 15942) is shown on the 1st edition of the Ordnance Survey map published in 1836. Hemblington Hall (NHER 8522) was built around 1700. The nearby threshing barn is 18th century. The barn adjacent to Gables Farm (NHER 13314) was also built in the 18th century. Interestingly part of the barn seems to have been used as servants’ accommodation.

Megan Dennis (NLA), 16 February 2006.


Further Reading

Boldero, C and Boldero, J., 2006 ‘Hemblington’. Available: Accessed: 16 February 2006.

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

Marshall, A., 2003. ‘Medieval Painting of St Christopher with contextual scenes from his life, Hemblington, Norfolk’. Available: Accessed 16 February 2006.

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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