Record Details

NHER Number:5200
Type of record:Monument
Name:Medieval causeway between St James' Hospital and St Benet's Abbey


Earthworks of a causeway between St James' Hospital (NHER 8444) and St Benet's Abbey (NHER 5199) can be seen on aerial photographs. In 1896 the foundations of a bridge over the River Ant were said to have been found at the western end of the causeway. A round tower is said to have stood at the eastern end in front of the abbey gatehouse. This record also includes earthworks of boundary banks and ditches previously recorded as NHER 34540. The excavation of a cable trench across the causeway in 2014 allowed the examination of the causeway’s uppermost deposits.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 3781 1607
Map Sheet:TG31NE

Full description

Causeway between St James' Hospital and St Benet's Abbey.
Still clearly visible.
E. Rose (NAU) 21 August 1975.

R.R. Clarke said that aerial photographs by Norwich Aero Club in 1930s showed a cropmark joining on north - another causeway, or broad dyke? For this feature now see NHER 34540.

In 1896 the foundations of a bridge were said to have been found at the western end. At the eastern end a round tower is said to have stood in front of the abbey gatehouse.
Information from (S1).
E. Rose (NLA).

Causeway continues on west of River Ant as far as Horning Hall. Actual crossing has been destroyed by river works, but name 'Mill Brigg' recorded by (S1) from wherrymen presumably refers to bridge mentioned above.
E. Rose (NAU), 16 March 1979.

8 April 1997. NLA air photography.
Causeway visible on aerial photographs taken.
S. Massey (NLA), 26 October 2001.

March 2007. Norfolk NMP
Earthworks of a medieval causeway and boundary banks and ditches associated with the St Benet’s Abbey (NHER 5199) are visible on aerial photographs (S2-S7). This record incorporates the ditch and bank earthworks (NHER 34540) associated with the abbey as these are joined to the causeway earthworks. The causeway extends from the site of the Hospital of St John, now Horning Hall (NHER 8444), at TG 3725 1635 to the gatehouse of St Benet’s Abbey (NHER 5199) at TG 3803 1579. It is present between these two points as a raised earthwork up to 14m wide. To the northwest of Horning Hall the route from the abbey continues as a farm track towards Horning church (NHER 8459) and the road to Norwich. The causeway is cut approximately halfway along its length by the River Ant and it is likely that that there was a bridge at this location (see above) but no trace of this remains visible. To the southeast of the Ant crossing the causeway is flanked by narrow outer banks positioned parallel to its course. Connected to the narrow bank on the northeast side of the causeway is a linear bank that forms part of a boundary to the north of abbey enclosure (NHER 34540). This boundary extended from the causeway at TG 3781 1600 to the northeast before turning to the east and southeast to TG 3837 1603. It is likely that it continued further to the east and southeast to form a polygonal enclosure to the north of the abbey but its course is not visible on aerial photographs. It is possible that its eastern section partly survives as one of two drainage ditches, but this is not certain and these features were not mapped (See NHER 34540). The western part of the boundary where it joins the causeway comprises two banks separated by a narrow ditch with a total width of 11m. Further to the north additional banks and ditches are present increasing the width to 18m. The course of the boundary is not as clearly visible to the east of the track that leads north from the abbey towards the former Bishop’s Palace at Ludham Hall (NHER 8454). Only a short distance is visible to the east of the track and it appears to be offset to the north compared with its course further to the west. To the north of the boundary earthworks immediately to the west of this track is an earthwork platform that measures 31m by 22m. It is possible that this was associated with a building, perhaps a gatehouse on this trackway leading to the abbey. The purpose of these outer boundary earthworks is unclear. They appear to define a polygonal enclosure to the north of the abbey and are highly likely to be associated with it. Their eastern course is not clear and there is no evidence for their continuation to the river to the southwest of the causeway. It has been suggested that they were part of a flood defence related to the abbey.
J. Albone (NMP), 29 March 2007.

July-August 2014. Watching Brief.
Monitoring of trench for underground power cable.
This trench crossed the causeway next to an existing electric pump house (NHER 8458) and exposed its uppermost deposits. A worn out and rutted remnant of a metalled surface was identified, sealed by a highly compacted layer of sandy gravel. These deposits provide clear evidence for the regular use and maintenance of the causeway during the late medieval period. Although it was still used during the post-medieval period there was no evidence for its continued maintenance.
A single sherd of medieval pottery and several fragments of burnt chalk were the only finds recovered during this work (the latter possibly waste from lime production).
See report (S8) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 26 October 2016.

Monument Types

  • DRAINAGE DITCH (Unknown date)
  • BOUNDARY BANK (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BOUNDARY DITCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BRIDGE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CAUSEWAY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PLATFORM (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TOWER (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Associated Finds

  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status


Sources and further reading

---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Unpublished Document: Pestell, T.. 2008. St Benet's Abbey A Guide and History..
---Photograph: ELB 7-11.
<S1>Archive: Bolingbroke Collection.
<S2>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1997. NHER TG 3715A (NLA 380/HPK10) 08-APR-1997.
<S3>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1634 1015-6 09-JUL-1946 (NHER 3716B / TG 3816A).
<S4>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1989. NHER TG 3716K-N (NLA 231/DQX10-13) 30-JUN-1989.
<S5>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1972. OS/72018 73 15-MAR-1972 (NHER TG 3815E).
<S6>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Meridian Airmaps Limited. 1962. MAL 62538 102291-2 28-JUL-1962 (NMR).
<S7>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1990. OS/90224 163-4 31-JUL-1990.
<S8>Unpublished Contractor Report: Emery, G. 2015. A Programme of Archaeological Mitigation Work for a Menage & Power Cable Trench at St James Hospital Chapel, Horning Hall, Horning, Norfolk. Norvic Archaeology. 55.

Related records

34540Parent of: Possible undated flood defences or abbey enclosure (Monument)

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