Record Details

NHER Number:16014
Type of record:Monument
Name:Ring ditches and undated features


Cropmarks of ring ditches, including a medieval post mill, enclosures, linear ditches and extraction pits are visible on aerial photographs. Some of the ring ditches may be of Bronze Age date and may relate to round barrows. Place name evidence suggests that the site was possibly also used as archery butts.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 3390 3346
Map Sheet:TG33SW

Full description

12 September 1980.
Cropmarks. Butt Hill.
NAU air photography.
Cropmarks of linear features.
See 6 inch scale overlay for NHER Maps.
D. Edwards, (NAU) 17 March 1980.

1 semicircular enclosure, cut by fence? (possible).
1 zigzag ditch; unlikely to be anti-glider! - probably recent feature.
E. Rose (NAU).

February 2005. Norfolk NMP.
Cropmarks of ring ditches, including a medieval post mill, enclosures, linear ditches and extraction pits are visible on aerial photographs (S1 to 3). Some of the ring ditches may be of Bronze Age date and may relate to round barrows. The site was possibly also used for archery butts. The central grid reference for this group of cropmarks has been adjusted from TG 3375 3350 to TG 3390 3348.

A ring ditch with a central cross ditch, indicating a post mill, is located at TG 3386 3344. The ring ditch has an external diameter of 24m with a 3m wide ditch. No mill is marked at this location on Faden’s 1797 map of Norfolk (S4) or later maps and its presence is not recorded in the field name (see below). In view of this it is likely that the mill represented by the cropmark is of medieval or early post medieval date. However, it is possible that the mill mound, has its origin as a Bronze Age round barrow. A small L shaped ditch cropmark within this ring ditch may also be related to the mill. Immediately to the east of the mill is another possible incomplete ring ditch cropmark. It has a sub-circular plan and an external diameter of 19m. The ditch is less than 1m wide resulting in an internal diameter of 18m. It appears to have a crescent shaped annexe attached to its eastern side. This measures up to 3m across and is also defined by a narrow ditch. It is possible that this ring ditch could also be of Bronze Age date.

Located 40m to the north of the mill at TG 3384 3347 is an unusual incomplete hengiform ring ditch. It has an external diameter of 34m with a 7m to 8m wide ditch. The appearance of this cropmark suggests that the edges and terminals of the ditch are deeper than its central part, but that overall it comprises a wide cut feature. The ring ditch is present in two sections with square-ended terminals, giving it a hengiform plan. A well-defined entrance is present on the western side. However, the most significant feature of this ring ditch is that it does not form a complete circle. The eastern ends of the two ditches are ragged and appear to stop short of, and respect, a northnorthwest to southsoutheast aligned linear ditch cropmark. This relationship strongly suggests that the hengiform ring ditch was deliberately positioned with respect to the linear ditch, and that it was never a complete circle. The interior of the ring ditch is also unusual. It contains a faint circular positive cropmark with a small linear extending to its west. The appearance of this central feature is similar to the shallower parts of the surrounding ditch, suggesting that it is also a shallow feature. It lies slightly off-centre to the surrounding hengiform ring ditch and could represent an earlier phase of activity. The date of this ring ditch is not certain. Although a Bronze Age date is possible, its relationship to the surrounding cropmarks makes a later date more plausible. It is similar in size to the hengiform ring ditch of a post mill in Witton parish (NHER 7071) and could represent a second mill at this site, despite the absence of any cross ditch cropmarks.

Located adjacent to and north of the hengiform ring ditch are cropmarks representing areas of probable quarrying. The first of these is located at the southeast edge of the southern hengiform ditch. A strong positive cropmark is visible widening the ditch by up to 5m and giving it a ragged outer edge. This suggests that quarrying had been carried out, using the edge of the ditch as a starting point. Consequently the ditch must have been extant at that time. It is possible that this quarrying was contemporary with the original construction of this monument, but its different appearance as a cropmark, suggests that this is unlikely. The second area of probable quarrying lies to the north of the hengiform ring ditch at TG 3381 3350. It appears as a strong positive cropmark forming an irregular T-shaped area measuring 64m by 28m. This large pit appears to respect the northern side of the hengiform ring ditch and also linear ditches to its west and could be of medieval to early post medieval date.

The linear ditches that surround the three ring ditches can be divided into three groups. The northnorthwest to southsoutheast linear ditch respected by the hengiform ring ditch provides the axis for one of these groups. Ditches are aligned perpendicular to its axis beyond its southern extent at TG 3388 3344 and TG 3391 3341. To its northwest at TG 3377 3350 and TG 3378 3355 are a further two parallel ditches, one of which appears to turn north at its eastern end. Although the alignment of these ditches is similar to that of the modern field pattern, they are not marked on the Bacton tithe and enclosure maps (S5-6) and are of an unknown, possible medieval date.

The second group of linear ditch cropmarks lies principally on, and perpendicular to, a southwest to northeast alignment. The most significant of these is an L shaped ditch defining two, or possibly three, sides of a rectilinear enclosure at TG 3378 3350. This enclosure, which has possible internal dimensions of 59m by 23m, appears to be respected by the large area of quarrying. This relationship suggests that the enclosure cropmarks are earlier or contemporary with the quarrying and may be of medieval to early post medieval date. Two parallel southwest to northeast aligned ditches are present to the southwest of the enclosure and appear to partly define a second 30m wide enclosure. One of these ditches is crossed by an extant post medieval field boundary. Another one is L shaped and may form part of further enclosure. An intermittent ditch extends for up to 182m on a similar alignment between TG 3395 3337 and TG 3306 3351 and may also be of a contemporary date. A further two parallel ditches, one of which cuts the narrow ring ditch, are located around TG 3391 3343 on a northwest to southeast alignment. The third group of ditches includes a linear ditch that extends between TG 3386 3350 and TG 3389 3346. To its west are two shorter ditches that are aligned perpendicular to it. An L-shaped ditch, possibly the corner of an undated enclosure, is located at TG 3381 3356. A square pit, measuring 2.5m across, is present within this enclosure. Other undated ditch cropmarks that to not conform to any of these groups are also present.

Two of the three ring ditch cropmarks at the site could be of Bronze Age origin. The complete ring ditch with the annexe is probably of that date and the mill cropmark could also have originally have been a round barrow. The presence of possible Bronze Age round barrows at this location is interesting and mirrors that of a barrow cemetery 560m to the north (NHER 6914). The present site is located on a south-facing spur of land at approximately 16m OD, whilst the cemetery to the north is positioned on a connected north-facing spur at 18m OD. Both of these sites lie on the eastern end of a ridge of high ground at the junction of two small valleys. The post mill is not marked on 18th century and later maps and is probably of medieval or early post medieval date. The hengiform ring ditch could relate to a second mill at the site, although this is not certain. The quarrying, enclosures and some of the linear ditches all seem to have relationships with the hengiform ring ditch and could all be of medieval to early post medieval date.

The place name ‘Butt Hill’ has been given three possible interpretations (S7). It has been suggested that it might refer to a tree stump or alternatively to ‘a strip of land abutting on a boundary’. However, the third suggestion, that it is a reference to an archery butt, may be more likely in this case. It is possible that the mill or barrow mounds were used as archery butts at some point during the medieval or post medieval periods.
J. Albone (NMP), 02 February 2005

Monument Types

  • DITCH (Unknown date)
  • ENCLOSURE (Unknown date)
  • EXTRACTIVE PIT (Unknown date)
  • PIT (Unknown date)
  • RING DITCH (Unknown date)
  • RING DITCH (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • ROUND BARROW (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • ARCHERY BUTTS? (Medieval to 19th Century - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • DITCH (Medieval to 19th Century - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • ENCLOSURE (Medieval to 19th Century - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • EXTRACTIVE PIT (Medieval to 19th Century - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POST MILL (Medieval to 19th Century - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WINDMILL (Medieval to 19th Century - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status


Sources and further reading

---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
<S1>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1978. NHER TG 3333A-B (NLA 68/AMK1-2) 12-SEP-1978.
<S2>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Meridian Airmaps Limited. 1976. MAL 76053 118 29-JUN-1976 (NMR).
<S3>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1981. OS/81081 155-6 17-AUG-1981 (NMR).
<S4>Publication: Faden, W. and Barringer, J. C. 1989. Faden's Map of Norfolk in 1797.
<S5>Map: Glegg, J.. 1827. Map of the Parishes of Witton, Bacton, Edingthorpe and Paston (NRO C/Sca 2/338).
<S6>Map: 1845. Bacton Tithe Map 1845 (NRO DN/TA 873).
<S7>Serial: Sandred, K.I.. 1996. The Place-Names of Norfolk Pt 2 The Hundreds of East and West Flegg, Happing and Tunstead. Pt 2. p 139.

Related records - none

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