Parish Summary: Marlingford

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

Marlingford is located west of Norwich, south of Easton and Honingham and north of Barford. It is in the South Norfolk district. The parish contains two villages – Marlingford and Colton. Land in both is listed in the Domesday Book suggesting these settlements were established by this time. Marlingford derives from Old English and has been translated as ‘ford of the family of Mearthel or Mearth’. Mearth means ‘a marten’ and is possibly used here as a nickname. Colton is Old Scandinavian and means ‘Koli’s settlement’.

The earliest recorded find from the parish is a Palaeolithic flint flake (NHER 23859). Cropmarks of an oval enclosure, linear features and other enclosures can be seen on aerial photographs (NHER 13357). The oval enclosure has been interpreted as a possible Neolithic long barrow. Many Neolithic worked flints have been found, some by fieldwalking. These include axeheads (NHER 8872 and 40894), a blade (NHER 9238), a knife (NHER 23859) and an axehead roughout and a completed axehead (NHER 40893) found at the same site. Possible Bronze Age worked flints (NHER 13976) have also been recorded. A complete pot (NHER 9243) that possibly dates to the Beaker period has also been found. It contained burnt wheat and some Roman coins. A possible Bronze Age copper alloy hammer (NHER 31987) and part of a second possible socketed hammer (NHER 39904) have been recovered. Cropmarks of a possible Bronze Age ring ditch (NHER 15764) can be seen on an aerial photograph. Other cropmarks have been interpreted as a late prehistoric sub-circular enclosure (NHER 36400). Several pieces of prehistoric quern (NHER 17552 and 9240) have been recorded. 

Drawing of a large Viking trefoil brooch.

A large Viking trefoil-shaped brooch. (© NCC)

Excavation in 1949 recorded a shallow silted-up Roman ditch (NHER 9242). This is the only Roman site recorded in the parish although several interesting finds have been made. These include a hoard of 174 silver denarii (NHER 28306) recovered by a metal detectorist, pieces of pot (NHER 9244), coins (NHER 9243 and 28859), a cosmetic mortar for grinding minerals used as make-up (NHER 29418) and a seal box lid (NHER 29711). A lozenge-shaped brooch and an unidentified Roman ‘loop’ (NHER 25966) have also been recorded.

The earliest Saxon find is a Middle to Late Saxon balance arm (NHER 29711) recovered by a metal detectorist. A Late Saxon mount (NHER 18510) and a 10th century strap end (NHER 20858) decorated in Winchester style have also been discovered. The most exciting find is an unusually large Viking trefoil brooch (NHER 29418). This is an incredibly significant find and is now in the collections of Norwich Castle Museum. 

St Mary's Church showing Decorated style west tower.

St Mary's Church in Marlingford. (© NCC)

St Mary’s Church (NHER 9281) has a Norman door but most of the rest of the church is in Decorated style. The chancel dates to 1816 and the north aisle was rebuilt in 1881. St Andrew’s Church, Colton (NHER 9280) was built between 1300 and 1500 and contains a lovely 14th century wall painting depicting the vice of gossiping. Two women sit on a bench chatting and are pushed together by two small devils! The medieval moated site of Old Hall (NHER 9245) is marked on old maps and part of the moat can still be seen inside a small wood. A second possible medieval moat (NHER 18262) has also been located east of Marlingford Hall (NHER 9247). This may be the site of an earlier hall. Medieval finds include a seal matrix (NHER 13712), coins (NHER 28282 and 28858) and a 15th century jetton made in Tournai, France (NHER 29084). 

Built in 1608 and substantially altered later in the 17th century.

The Old Hall in Marlingford dates back to the early 17th century. (© NCC)

The Old Hall (NHER 9246) was built in 1608 as a lobby entrance house but has been significantly altered since. The wooden panelling inside the hall dates to the 18th century. The Old Hall, Colton (NHER 44520) was also built in the 17th century. This building is hidden behind an early 19th century brick façade. The Old Horse and Groom, Colton (NHER 44521) used to be a pub but is now converted into a house. The pebble-dashed timber frame thatched building is dated to 1660 by a datestone in the eastern dormer gable. The Square (NHER 13770) is a timber framed house that dates to the 16th or 17th century. The Old Hall in Marlingford was replaced by Marlingford Hall (NHER 9247). This house was built in 1868 on a site that had been occupied since the 17th century. Inside there is an overmantel containing a painting by Van Blumen, known as Orizonte, which was removed from the Old Hall (NHER 9246).  

18th and 19th century timber framed and brick mill.

Marlingford Mill dates back to the 18th century and was used for grinding corn. (© NCC)

The site of a brick kiln (NHER 24194), perhaps used to fire the bricks for the 17th century Old Hall (NHER 9246), has been located. Marlingford 18th and 19th century watermill (NHER 9276) was originally used for grinding corn but was later adapted to provide power using an early hydroelectric turbine. The building is partly timber framed and weatherboarded and partly brick. There were also two post medieval tower windmills (NHER 15948 and 15393).

The most modern site recorded is a Royal Observers Corp post (NHER 13157). This was set up in March 1962 and was closed in September 1991. The concrete room on legs was used to provide accommodation for observers who would watch for enemy plane movements during the Cold War.

Megan Dennis (NLA), 14 June 2006.


Further reading

Knott, S., 2006. ‘St Andrew’s, Colton’. Available: Accessed: 14 June 2006.

Knott, S., 2006, ‘St Mary’s, Marlingford’. Available: Accessed: 14 June 2006.

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

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

Neville, J., 2003. ‘Norfolk Mills – Marlingford watermill’. Available: Accessed: 14 June 2006.

Neville, J., 2004. ‘Norfolk Mills – Marlingford towermill’. Available: Accessed: 14 June 2006.

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

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