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Remains of medieval settlement 380m south of Park Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Bixley, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.5951 / 52°35'42"N

Longitude: 1.3353 / 1°20'7"E

OS Eastings: 625992.846396

OS Northings: 304927.987261

OS Grid: TG259049

Mapcode National: GBR WJ6.8FP

Mapcode Global: WHMTV.H13B

Entry Name: Remains of medieval settlement 380m south of Park Farm

Scheduled Date: 20 August 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018177

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30542

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Bixley

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Poringland Great All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Norwich


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a medieval
settlement situated approximately 4.5km south east of Norwich and 1km north
east of the village of Arminghall where there are other medieval settlement
remains, which are the subject of a separate scheduling. The church and
churchyard of St Wandregeselius, which remain in use are totally excluded from
the scheduling. The church stands towards the western side of the site,
adjoining the east side of the former Norwich-Bungay road. This road was
closed by Act of Parliament in 1800, but part of it to the north of and
alongside the church is preserved between existing boundaries, and to the
south of the church the line was followed by a field boundary which has since
been removed. The earthworks, which survive in four modern fields, include the
remains of at least four small groups of two or three tofts (homestead
enclosures) situated between 85m and 150m apart and defined by ditches and in
some parts by slight internal banks. These groups are linked by a branching
system of roads, visible as hollow ways, with a rectilinear network of ditches
outlining small fields and other enclosures of varying size between.

A hollow way runs southwards from Park Farm for a distance of approximately
80m and forks south westwards and south eastwards at a junction of modern
field boundaries. The section to the north of this fork has been largely
infilled, although the line of it is recorded and it will survive as a buried
feature, but the parts to the south survive as visible earthworks. The branch
south eastwards is followed and partly obscured by a later field boundary, but
along the north side of it there are shallow ditches and scarps defining parts
of at least two rectangular tofts, the eastern of which contains mounds and
surface irregularities which probably include the remains of buildings. On the
opposite side of the roadway, in the adjoining field, there is a
sub-rectangular platform measuring approximately 17m north west-south east and
0.5m in height which may also have supported a building. To the east of this
the street turns due south and survives as a well defined hollow way up to
1.5m deep and 10m wide. Fronting it in the southern part of the field are
three sub-rectangular tofts of unequal size, two to the west and one to the
east, surrounded by ditches and with entrances marked by irregular hollows.
Irregularities in the ground surface within these enclosures probably
represent the remains of internal sub-divisions and buildings. The largest
toft, which is on the western side of the street contains a later pond, and is
separated from the small adjoining toft to the north by a linear hollow up to
9m wide which is thought to have been a lane leading to a series of enclosures
beyond. A well defined ditch running southwards from the toft on the east side
of the street defines part of another enclosure, and is joined at the northern
end by a slighter ditch approximately 0.2m deep which curves around the
eastern side of the toft and continues northward, corresponding to a field
boundary shown on a map of 1769.

The section of the south westward branching hollow way which lies to the north
east of the church has been partly obscured by the digging of a later pond but
the remainder, although partly infilled, is visible. Along the east side of
this section are the remains of a small ditched enclosure, and on the west
side, ditches up to 6m wide define the western parts of two adjoining
rectangular tofts which fronted onto the street. To the north of these a wide
linear hollow, approximately 7.5m wide and up to 1m deep at the eastern end,
although partly infilled elsewhere, runs eastwards from the fork of the road
and then southwards, perhaps representing another back lane and defining the
northern and eastern side of another small enclosure. In the adjoining field
to the south the hollow way is up to 15m wide, bending south, then east and
south again, with a spur leading off it westwards towards the church. At the
southern end of the field, adjoining the eastern side of the hollow way, are
the remains of two adjoining long, narrow tofts, partly obscured by a later
pond, and at their eastern end, fronting onto the road is the northern part of
a large, sub-rectangular building platform, bisected by the modern field

South of the church, between the hollow way and the line of the former Bungay
road are the remains of a rectangular enclosure with an entrance on the south
side, and to the west of the line of the road is a slightly raised causeway,
now partly obscured by a later pond, leading north eastwards towards the

church. The line of this causeway is continued in a track which is still in
use, now leading south westwards to the modern Bungay Road but formerly linked
to a system of hollow ways which survives to the west of the modern road.
Adjoining the south side of the causeway is a roughly `L'-shaped building
platform at the western end of which parts of the foundations of a building of
medieval or early post-medieval brick have been noted. A second slightly
raised causeway to the north, leading due west from the church, represents a
later alteration in the line of this part of the track and is shown on 18th
century maps.

It is thought that the pattern of settlement displayed in the earthwork
remains of the village may represent a population of predominantly `free'
farmers and smallholders. According to the Domesday Book the adult male
population of Bixley in 1086 was 19, including one freeman, three bordars
(smallholders) and 13 sokemen (free tenants). The tax records of the 14th and
15th centuries indicate that the population was relatively small, the
contribution of Bixley to the lay subsidy in 1334 being the smallest of the 17
villages in the Hundred, but that it did not fall substantially during that
period. Five taxpayers are recorded in the lay subsidy returns for 1524, and
four in 1581, of whom one was the Lord of the Manor. By the mid-18th century
almost all of the occupation sites represented by the earthworks had been
abandoned and the area containing them enclosed within the grounds of Bixley
Hall, built originally in the 16th century, the remains of which, lying some
500m to the south of the earthworks, are the subject of a separate scheduling.

Electricity pylons across the site, field gates and fences, water troughs
within the fields and inspection chambers adjacent to Park Cottages are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is

The church and churchyard of St Wandregeselius are totally exluded from the

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 past 1500 years or more.
The monument lies in the Anglian sub-Province of the south eastern Province, a
low rolling plateau, drift-covered and dissected, which is characterised by
significantly lower densities of hamlets, villages and market towns than the
Midlands. It is notable for the consistent presence of medium to very high
densities of dispersed settlements - isolated halls, large farmsteads and
churches - in landscapes possessing large numbers of moated sites and loosely
structured hamlets bearing `green' names. All were formerly associated with
long chains of roadside commons linking together the larger blocks of common
land. This is an ancient, intricate landscape.
High Norfolk and Suffolk, along with Mid-Suffolk, form a rather featureless
plateau made of boulder clay overlying chalk. Broad, undulating valleys wind
eastwards towards the coast. Scattered farmsteads and halls are abundant, many
with moats, together with straggling hamlets bearing the name `green'. Mid-
Suffolk is characterised by even higher concentrations of moated farmsteads
and `greens'.

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 distinguishing 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 remians as well as buried deposits.

The remains of the medieval village 380m south of Park Farm are among the most
extensive of their kind in this region of East Anglia, and a good example of a
settlement where the original nucleus has been abandoned, leaving the parish
church standing in isolation and a dispersed community of farms and cottages.
The monument includes a variety of components which illustrate the social
organisation and economy of the community and will contain additional
archaeological information concerning the village and the lives of its
inhabitants, as well as the process of abandonment, to supplement the sparse
historical record.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cushion, B et al, 'East Anglian Archaeol' in Some Deserted Village Sites in Norfolk, , Vol. 14, (1982), 91-93
copy Norfolk RO C/Sca 2/38, (1800)
Cushion, B, Bixley DMV SMR 9660, (1996)
Title: Plan of an estate lying in Bixley
Source Date: 1870
Drawn from survey by Osborn, 1769

Source: Historic England

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