Record Details

NHER Number:3937
Type of record:Monument
Name:Bichamditch or the Devil's Dyke


A large linear earthwork traditionally (but perhaps incorrectly) dated to the Early Saxon period. It runs for 11 km between the River Nar at Narborough to the north and a tributary of the River Wissey at Beachamwell. It has a bank up to 2.5m high and ditch on its east side and it runs at right angles to a Roman road (NHER 2796) at Beachamwell, which has led some to suggest that it might have been built by the post-Roman occupants of west Norfolk and the fens to control movement along that road from the east. However, the origins of this and the other linear earthworks of Norfolk remain a matter for debate. An Iron Age date cannot be discounted, with this earthwork associated with the Iron Age fort at Narborough (NHER 3975). An excavation in 2000 on the possible line of the earthwork at Narborough found no evidence of it.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TF 7458 0968
Map Sheet:TF70NW

Full description

Section 990m (1080 yards) in length east of Three Cornered Plantations alone scheduled. Part destroyed, Devil's Ditch on Ordnance Survey. Earthwork presumed of Early Saxon date; Roman sherd found on top.
See (S1).
E. Rose (NAU) 5 August 1983.

Late 1978 or early 1979. Stray Find.
Roman pottery sherd found in molehill on northern end of Devil's Dyke, within Narborough Cricket Field.
Now recorded under NHER 3906.
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 3 July 2018.

1997. Earthwork Survey.
Survey of northern end of the Bichamditch, so that advice could be given to the owners regarding tree planting. The other earthworks identified as a result of this survey are recorded under NHER 32793. The survey also examined the site of an ice house (NHER 3905).
See report (S1) for plan and further details. This site was included in (S2) and the survey is also noted in (S3).
P. Watkins (HES), 16 February 2014.

June 2000. Evaluation at 1 to 3 Chalk Lane [1].
Excavation of a single 25m long trench prior to residential development recorded two unstratified sherds of early medieval pottery and 23 late-19th to early-20th century pits and post-holes containing domestic rubbish related to the occupation of Nos 1-3 Chalk Lane.
No evidence of the Bicham ditch was encountered, but due to practical considerations the trench was placed approximately 5m west of the western edge of Chalk Lane.
See NHER 60065 for further details.
D. Gurney (NLA), 23 January 2002.
H. Hamilton (HES), 30 May 2014.

February 2012. Evaluation.
Two evaluation trenches were excavated along the roadside verge bordering Chalk Lane in order to investigate an earthwork bank located on the conjectural line of the Bichamditch (Devil's Dyke). Both trenches were placed partially on the earthwork bank and extended westwards into the arable field. The bank was found to survive to a depth of up to 1m and sealed a subsoil deposit which overlaid a north-south ditch. Documentary research has led to the interpretation of the bank as a likely wood bank while comparison with adjacent stratigraphy has led to the conclusion that the underlying ditch is likely of medieval date.
See NHER 56277 for further details.
H. Hamilton (HES), 30 May 2014.

Monument Types

  • BANK (EARTHWORK) (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)
  • DYKE (DEFENCE) (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)
  • DYKE (DEFENCE) (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)

Associated Finds

  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)

Protected Status

  • Management Statement
  • Scheduled Monument
  • Higher Level Stewardship

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TF7407 A,C-H,R-T; TF7408 B-D,F,G-N,P,Q.
---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF63.
---Illustration: Finds Illustrations.
---Photograph: KJH.
---Publication: Corbishley, M.. 1982. AM107. 2.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1923. The Devil's Dyke at Beachamwell. 5 July.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TF 70 NW 9; TF 71 SW 5; TF 71 SW 6 [2].
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Early Saxon. Beachamwell.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
<S1>Unpublished Report: Cushion, B. 1997. Narborough Park Earthworks SMR 3905, 3937, 32794. Earthwork Survey Report.
<S2>Monograph: Cushion, B. and Davison, A. 2003. Earthworks of Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 104. p 221.
<S3>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 1998. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1997. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIII Pt I pp 193-210. p 201.
<S5>Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.

Related records

56277Related to: Possible medieval ditch, post-medieval wood bank, and undated enclosure and ditches (Monument)
60065Related to: Post-medieval pits and post-holes and medieval pottery sherds (Monument)

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