Record Details

NHER Number:6351
Type of record:Monument
Name:Late Saxon/medieval iron working pits


A group of pits survive on Beeston Regis Heath and are partially visible on aerial photographs. A number of the pits were excavated during the 19th century and were found to contain metal working debris, burnt material and pottery sherds. At the time they were thought to be Roman in date, although the excavation of similar features (NHER 6353) close by suggests that they probably date to the Late Saxon and/or medieval periods. The metal working debris suggests that the pits were used in the processing of iron ores.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 1728 4180
Map Sheet:TG14SE

Full description

Pits near Britons Lane, on Beeston Regis Heath.

Before 1852. On Beeston Regis Heath iron cinder, slag and pits with Roman sherds (now lost). Castor Ware alleged.
See (S1), (S2).
R. R. Clarke (NCM).

Spurrell dug twelve pits here and sectioned others.
Dug large patch of cinders, due south of Beeston Church on hilltop. Spread out for many metres (yards). Some pits filled with cinder. Spurrell dug through mound of cinder more than 1.5m (5ft) in depth. Some slags 0.9m (3ft) long. Furnace bottom 0.6m (2ft) and 0.9m to 0.9m (2-3ft) high. Mixed with slag coarse bits of pottery, some much burnt; other pieces Roman like Durobrivae. Floor of kiln for roasting ore.
(S1), (S2), (S3), (S4), reprinted from (S5), and (S6) (see Alymerton for list of sites).
R. R. Clarke (NCM).

January 1920. Investigation.
Three pits were excavated. Burnt material and slag discovered.
See (S5).
D. Robertson (NLA) 23 September 2005.

Is this the same site as Tylecote's site? See NHER 6353.
E. Rose (NAU).

Shrieking Pits here locally called Leech Pits (name to south on (S7)).
E. Rose (NAU).

Area of pits greatly extended in woods by fieldwork. They spread along summits of ridges to north, not in valleys, with one detached group. See (S8) in file.
Mostly National Trust property (except extreme east).
P. Wade-Martins (NAU) 28 February 1986.

Norfolk NMP. July 2003.
A series of pit remains relating to the iron working taking place on the site can be seen on RAF aerial photographs from 1946 (S9 and S10) and Cambridge University Committee for Aerial Photography images from 1955 (held at the National Monuments Record) (S11). They are also visible on Meridian Airmaps Limited aerial photographs from 1967 (S12) and Ordnance Survey images from 1968 (S13). The full extent to this site cannot be seen due the woodland. This site was previously suggested to be Roman in date. However, there is the possibility that some of these pits are later, an excavation that took place nearby on iron working sites (NHER 6353) showed that area to date from the Late Saxon to medieval periods, and it is possible that these are of a similar date.
Some of the pits have been plotted individually, however, these are only those that are most well defined. Most are indicated by the extent of area that demarcates the whole group. Also there will no doubt be more hidden by tree cover to the east of this area. The area that is clearly visible is centred at NGR TG1705 4175. There is also a clearly defined pit set separately, a short distance away at TG1714 4191. All of the pits that can be seen appear to follow the tops of the ridges.
(Several linear banks can also be seen in the vicinity, which probably relate to post medieval boundaries within the wooded area. These are recorded under NHER 38320).
H. Clare (NMP) 18 July 2003.

June 2012. Earthwork Rapid Identification Survey.
Earthworks seen during survey. Located in two distinct groups and same as those described in (S8).
See report (S14) for further details.
K. Powell (HES), 2 July 2012.

Monument Types

  • FURNACE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • IRON WORKING SITE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • PIT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • IRON WORKING SITE (Late Saxon to Medieval - 851 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PIT (Late Saxon to Medieval - 851 AD to 1539 AD)

Associated Finds

  • METAL WORKING DEBRIS (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • METAL WORKING DEBRIS (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)

Protected Status


Sources and further reading

---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 14 SE 7 [11]; TG 14 SE 8a.
---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 - Roman. Beeston Regis.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Article in Serial: Harrod, H. 1852. On the Weybourne Pits. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol III pp 232-240.
<S2>Article in Serial: Spurrell, F. C. J. 1883. On Some Large Collections of Shallow Pits in Norfolk and Elsewhere. The Archaeological Journal. Vol XL pp 281-295. pp 281-195.
<S3>Monograph: 1901. The Victoria History of Norfolk. The Victoria History of the Counties of England. Vol 1. p 265.
<S4>Article in Serial: 1920. Summary of Proceedings. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. Vol III Pt II (for 1919-20) pp 315-322. pp 320-321.
<S5>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1920. Hut circles on Cromer-Holt ridge. 16 February.
<S6>Monograph: Davies, O.. 1932. Roman Mines in Europe.. p 162-3 + map.
<S7>Map: Ordnance Survey. Ordnance Survey 1:10,000.
<S8>Map: Wade-Martins, P. (NAU). 1986. Annotated Ordnance Survey map.
<S9>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1571 4211-2 07-JUN-1946 (Norfolk SMR TG14/TG1641/C & A).
<S10>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1571 4179-80 07-JUN-1946 (Norfolk SMR TG14/TG1641/B & TG1741/A).
<S11>Vertical Aerial Photograph: CUCAP. 1955. NMR TG1741/3-5 (CUCAP PU15-17) 18-JUN-1955.
<S12>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Meridian Airmaps Limited. 1967. MAL/67028 078-9 16-APR-1967 (NMR).
<S13>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1968. OS/68082 013 25-APR-1968 (Norfolk HER TG 1741B).
<S14>Unpublished Contractor Report: Cushion, B. 2012. West Runton and Beeston Regis Heath. Archaeological Earthwork Rapid Identification Survey. Brian Cushion Archaeological & Cartographical Surveyor.

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