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Medieval settlement 370m north of Grove Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Wighton, Norfolk

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.9254 / 52°55'31"N

Longitude: 0.8933 / 0°53'35"E

OS Eastings: 594585.447467

OS Northings: 340361.72964

OS Grid: TF945403

Mapcode National: GBR S7K.QMS

Mapcode Global: WHLQR.PQLP

Entry Name: Medieval settlement 370m north of Grove Farm

Scheduled Date: 20 August 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018176

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30541

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Wighton

Built-Up Area: Wighton

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Wighton All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Norwich

Details

The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a small medieval
settlement located approximately 800m north east of the centre of Wighton
village. The remains of the settlement are visible as a series of rectangular
platforms and associated enclosures ranged along the eastern edge of the flood
plain of the River Stiffkey and set back approximately 25m from the west side
of the minor road between Wighton and Warham. The river, which now runs in a
man-made channel approximately 50m from the edge of the platforms, at one time
followed a more sinuous course further to the west.

The platforms, which are considered to represent up to seven tofts (homestead
enclosures), although some may have been cultivated garden areas, are
separated by shallow east-west ditches 3m to 4m wide and stand between 0.3m
and 0.7m above the level of the flood plain, following what was probably, in
origin, a natural scarp. On the opposite, eastern side, most are between 0.2m
and 0.4m above the level of the adjoining ground surface. They measure from
approximately 9m to 32m in width north-south and from approximately 25m to 44m
in length, although at the southern end of the row there is a larger platform,
not certainly a toft, which measures 40m east-west by at least 56m. Slight
mounds and other irregularities on their surfaces are thought to mark the
sites of buildings and possible internal subdivisions. An irregular ditch and
a low bank up to 7m wide run across the eastern ends of three of the platforms
towards the northern end of the row, and from this another, narrower but
well-defined bank runs south eastwards towards the road. A slight scarp and
other surface irregularities on roughly the same alignment to the south of
this may represent further subdivisions of an area which at one time probably
formed a narrow green bordering the road.

To the north and north east of the row of platforms is a larger enclosure,
with internal dimensions of approximately 126m north west-south east by 30m,
bounded on the east side by a modern drainage ditch (which is not included in
the scheduling) and on the north, south and west sides by ditches up to 1m in
depth and external banks. The ditch around the southern end and along the
southern part of the west side is between 5m and 7m wide and is separated from
the ditch to the north, which is up to 13m wide, by a narrow causeway which
may have contained a culvert or sluice. The bank or dam bordering the western
side of the northern part of the ditch is up to 0.6m in height and narrows
from a width of up to 14m at the northern end to approximately 6m, then
bifurcates, with one, much narrower branch running alongside the ditch on the
west side of the southern part of the enclosure, and the other continuing to
the west of this and almost parallel for a distance of approximately 16m and
terminating in a short, sub-rectilinear, westward curve which may represent
the remains of a structure. The ditch across the northern end of the
enclosure, which is connected to the northern part of the ditch along the west
side, is up to 10m wide and bordered by a flat topped bank up to 8m wide. Both
these features continue westwards, where the ditch merges with a later,
probably 19th century drainage ditch. The bank, which may have served as a
causeway, continues on the same alignment to the west of the modern river
channel, although that part of it is not included in the scheduling. All these
features are considered to be elements of a water management system, probably
to divert and control water from the river or the flood plain, and possibly
associated with a mill.

Evidence for the occupation of the site includes fragments of medieval and
early post-medieval pottery, brought to the surface by moles and found on and
immediately around the earthworks.

A tethering post at the southern end of the site is excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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
region.
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.

Areas of dispersed settlement in the medieval period are characterised by
isolated farmsteads, small hamlets comprising clusters of a few homesteads but
lacking the diversity of elements typical of a larger rural community, and in
some regions by moated sites. In the Goodsands region of north Norfolk such
settlements existed around and between the larger villages which were the
nucleus of an organised agricultural system.

The medieval settlement north of Grove Farm is a good example of a small
hamlet situated close to, but distinct from, a larger village and perhaps
associated with the exploitation of the meadows bordering the river as a
particular agricultural resource. The earthworks survive well and they and the
alluvial deposits in the adjacent part of the river flood plain will contain
archaeological information concerning the date and duration of the settlement
and the lives and activities of the inhabitants. It is possible, also, that
organic materials, some relating to the local environment at that time, will
be preserved in waterlogged deposits in the lower-lying parts of the site.

Source: Historic England

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