Record Details

NHER Number:38670
Type of record:Monument
Name:Earthworks of extraction pits of unknown date


The earthwork remains of probable extraction pits of unknown date are visible on aerial photographs of Roughton Heath taken in 1946. These have since been levelled. The elongated shape of the site, which principally consists of a line of pits within a larger, shallower excavation, is suggestive of an attempt to follow a mineral seam rather than the wholesale extraction of sand, gravel or chalk. This morphology, together with the evidence for iron extraction and working in the surrounding area, suggests that the pits may relate to the iron industry and specifically the extraction and/or smelting of iron ore. Other nearby iron-working sites (e.g. NHER 6351 and 6353) have been dated to the Romano-British and Saxo-Norman periods. The fairly limited extent of this site may denote an equally early date, but the fact that the earthworks appear relatively fresh on 1946 aerial photographs may indicate small-scale post-medieval industry. At the same time, the possibility that the earthworks are in some way associated with the World War Two military training area (NHER 38621) which occupied this part of the heath cannot be discounted.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 2227 3869
Map Sheet:TG23NW

Full description

June 2004, Norfolk NMP.
Probable extraction pits are visible as earthworks on aerial photographs (S1-2), centred at TG 2226 3868. They seem most likely to be the result of the extraction of a mineral, probably iron ore, along a seam. The glacial sands of north-east Norfolk contain ironstone pebbles (S3, p.187) and iron extraction and smelting pits of Romano-British and Saxo-Norman date have been identified along the Cromer-Weybourne ridge, e.g. NHER 6351 and 6353 5.7km to the north-west. The placename 'Shrieking Pits', which is often associated with iron working, occurs 3.25km to the east (NHER 6787). The pits could date to any period from the Iron Age onwards. They do not seem to be as fresh as the earthworks associated with the World War Two military training area (NHER 38621) and seem likely to date to the inter-war period at the latest.

The main area of extraction consists of a shallow, elongated pit measuring approximately 130m long and 20m wide. Within this a series of pits measuring roughly 3-5m in diameter are visible but these have not been mapped since they lie within the larger pit whose alignment they follow. A number of rather amorphous pits to the east appear to be associated features. Further pits may survive to the north but cannot be distinguished from the remains of the military training area. Later aerial photographs indicate that the earthworks were levelled by 1963.
S. Tremlett (NMP), 30 June 2004.

Monument Types

  • EXTRACTIVE PIT (Unknown date)
  • IRON WORKING SITE (Unknown date)
  • IRONSTONE WORKINGS (Unknown date)
  • METAL WORKING SITE (Unknown date)
  • ORE WORKS (Unknown date)
  • PIT (Unknown date)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

<S1>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1430 3184 16-APR-1946 (NMR).
<S2>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1606 2146-7 27-JUN-1946 (NMR).
<S3>Article in Serial: Tylecote, R. 1967. The Bloomery site at West Runton. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXXIV Pt II pp 187-214.

Related records - none

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