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Waterden medieval settlement remains

A Scheduled Monument in South Creake, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.8906 / 52°53'26"N

Longitude: 0.8031 / 0°48'11"E

OS Eastings: 588676.022789

OS Northings: 336254.178038

OS Grid: TF886362

Mapcode National: GBR R6H.RWD

Mapcode Global: WHKPS.9LPV

Entry Name: Waterden medieval settlement remains

Scheduled Date: 17 August 1976

Last Amended: 20 August 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018174

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30539

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: South Creake

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Creake South St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Norwich


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of part of the
medieval village of Waterden, located along the lower slopes of a small valley
running north east-south west. The village church of All Saints, which is not
included in the scheduling, still stands, although reduced from its original
size, some 225m to the south west, and the remains of the medieval village of
Egmere, which are the subject of a separate scheduling, lie 1km to the north
east. The farmhouse and buildings of the modern Waterden Farm are situated to
the south east of the earthworks.

The visible remains of the village include various tofts (homestead
enclosures) and part of the curtilage of the manor house bordering a main
street which runs north east-south west along the bottom of the valley. A
short farm track follows the line of the southern end of a road which led off
this street north westwards towards Egmere from a point opposite the present
farmhouse, and slightly to the north east of this junction are the remains of
part of another track which led off it south eastwards, visible as a well
defined hollow way up to 1m deep and about 15m wide. To the north east of this
intersection, the line of the former main street is perpetuated in a modern
trackway with a channeled stream running alongside. To the south west, the
street ran through a narrow green approximately 32m wide which would have
been used for common grazing. The eastern side of the green is defined by a
steep, north west-facing scarp 2m or more in height, and the western side is
occupied by a chain of later ponds. The area above the scarp is divided by two
linear hollows approximately 6m wide, probably representing minor trackways,
which run westwards and south westwards from the upper edge of the scarp
towards the existing farm buildings. The area between these two features is
enclosed on the northern and western sides by a bank up to 0.5m in height, and
crossed towards the northern end by the remains of a slight ditch, about 2m
wide which corresponds to an enclosure boundary on a map made in 1714. To the
north east of these enclosures, in the angle between the south eastern side of
the main street and the hollow way leading south eastwards at the north
eastern end of the green, there is a hollow or bay up to 1.5m deep, on the
eastern side of which is an oval raised platform measuring approximately 18m
in length north-south by 9m which may have supported a building. The early
18th century map shows a building in this area, although probably to the west
of the platform.

On the opposite side of the green, west of the ponds, can be seen the southern
ends of three adjoining tofts, demarcated by slight banks and ditches which
run north westwards to the western edge of the field. The remainder of these
enclosures, which are not included in the scheduling, lay in the area of the
adjoining field and have been levelled by ploughing, although prior to this
the earthworks were recorded by means of aerial photography and surveyed. In
the south eastern corner of the southernmost toft there is a slight mound
measuring approximately 11m across and 0.5m in height, thought to be the
remains of a building platform, and to the south of this there is a second
mound of similar size.

To the north east of the street intersection, fronting the south eastern side
of the main street, is a row of five rectangular tofts outlined by well
defined low banks, scarps and ditches, and along the rear boundary of these
runs a linear hollow approximately 5m wide and 0.4m deep which was probably a
back lane. On the opposite, north western side of the street, north west of
the intersection, are the remains of the greater part of a large enclosure,
shown on the map of 1714 as containing the hall, with three smaller enclosures
to the north east of it. The earthworks here are less well defined than those
to the south east of the street, but the north eastern boundary of the hall
enclosure is clearly marked by a broad, low bank approximately 7.5m wide and
0.5m high, with a central opening. According to the 18th century map, the
hall stood in the south western part of the enclosure, on or immediately
alongside the modern field boundary which runs almost parallel to the line of
the street. Bricks and other building materials have been observed in the
ploughsoil of the field immediately beyond this boundary, but it is possible
that buried remains of the front part of the building remain undisturbed in
the adjacent field. The map shows that the area between the building and the
street was a courtyard, with other buildings ranged along the frontage. The
area of the enclosure to the north east of the courtyard is subdivided into
quarters by slight banks and was probably a garden. In the south eastern
quadrant, aerial photographs taken in the 1960s show the slight hollows of the
intersecting pathways of a parterre. The broad bank of the adjoining boundary
has a flat or slightly hollowed top and may have supported a raised walkway
bordering the garden.

Waterden is recorded as a small settlement in the Domesday survey of 1086, and
in 1332 it contained 24 people contributing to the Lay Subsidy, although some
of these would have lived in outlying farmsteads. It was not awarded any
relief from taxation in the 1350s, indicating that there had been no
catastrophic fall in population following the Black Death of 1349, and in 1380
36 inhabitants are recorded as having paid Poll Tax. The decline of the
settlement is charted in records of the 15th and 16th century. In 1449 its
contribution to the Lay Subsidy was reduced by over 31 per cent more than any
of the neighbouring settlements, and by the early 16th century it no longer
ranked as a separate village for purposes of taxation. By the beginning of the
18th century the area of the monument had been enclosed, although the main
street and the two principal trackways leading off it survived and are shown
in the map of 1714, which also records the outline of the green. The hall
shown on the same map is thought to have been built in the 16th century. It
was repaired at the beginning of the 17th century and demolished in 1781, when
a new farmhouse and farm buildings were constructed.

All modern field gates and fences, the supports of water troughs and the pipes
which supply them, track surfaces and service poles are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity
in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains
needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been
divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive
mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided
into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have
gradually evolved during the last 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the Wash sub-Province of the South-eastern Province, an
area which can be divided into two parts. The western part is the fenlands
with associated marshlands, siltlands and islands, with villages, hamlets and
bands of farmsteads and cottages clinging to the slight islands and dykes
above land once seasonally flooded. The eastern part embraces the sands and
loams of west Norfolk, studded with ancient villages and hamlets, some of them
depopulated. To the south lie the Brecklands, an elevated, thinly-settled
The Goodsands local region stretches north from the Brecklands to the coast.
Its former heathland soils were improved in the 18th century. Overall
settlement densities are low, with numbers of villages and hamlets, and though
traces of abandoned settlements and churches do occur, they are not numerous.

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities at the centre of a
parish or township, sharing resources such as arable land, meadow and
woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but where they survive as
earthworks their most distinguished features include roads and minor tracks,
platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, and
enclosed crofts and small paddocks. They frequently included the parish
church within their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system, most
villages included one or more manorial centres which may also survive as
visible remains as well as buried deposits. In the Goodsands region of
Norfolk, villages are a characteristic feature of the pattern of medieval
settlement and their archaeological remains are an important source of
understanding of life in the five or more centuries following the Norman

The medieval village of Waterden, which is one of several such sites which
survive in north east Norfolk, displays many of the features characteristic of
this class of monument and is a good example of a small settlement which
developed along a central street with a bordering green. The earthworks and
buried remains will contain archaeological information concerning the village
and the lives of its inhabitants, as well as the progress of its decline and
eventual abandonment, to supplement the historical record. It is possible that
the visible and buried remains of the 16th century hall, gardens and
associated buildings, as recorded on the early 18th century map, overlie the
remains of an earlier, medieval manor house, and they will in themselves
provide additional information on the life and domestic organisation of an
early post-medieval high-status household.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cushion, B et al, 'East Anglian Archaeol' in Some Deserted Village Sites in Norfolk, , Vol. 14, (1982), 68-77
CUCAP AQS 26, 27 AMU 83,84, (1967)
Title: Holkham MS Map 3/48
Source Date: 1714

Source: Historic England

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