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Remains of medieval and early post-medieval settlement at Summer End

A Scheduled Monument in East Walton, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.708 / 52°42'28"N

Longitude: 0.5881 / 0°35'17"E

OS Eastings: 574945.042276

OS Northings: 315406.547917

OS Grid: TF749154

Mapcode National: GBR P5W.CHG

Mapcode Global: WHKQN.06B8

Entry Name: Remains of medieval and early post-medieval settlement at Summer End

Scheduled Date: 9 November 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019333

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30585

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: East Walton

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk


The monument includes earthworks and buried remains of part of a medieval and
early post-medieval settlement bordering the northern edge of the common at
Summer End, towards the southern end of East Walton parish. The common is one
of two surviving fragments of a much larger common which, before the
enclosures of the second quarter of the 19th century, extended from the road
to East Winch, over 2km to the north west, to Pentney Common at the southern
end. The earthworks present the characteristic appearance of a group of
adjacent tofts (homestead enclosures) and associated yards, gardens and
paddocks, the boundaries of which are marked by partly infilled, intersecting
ditches visible as shallow, linear depressions between 0.25m and 0.5m deep and
up to 6m wide. Another part of the settlement which survives lies about a
kilometre to the north west and is the subject of a separate scheduling.

At the eastern end the settlement remains are bordered by a road which in its
full extent is probably of 19th century date, since it is not shown on a late
18th century map, but which at this point appears to follow the curving line
of an earlier access track. To the south where, before the 19th century
enclosures the common originally extended a little further east, the modern
road bends away from the field, but a linear depression, probably representing
the further extent of the track continues south westwards for a distance of
about 80m along the northern edge of the common. From the edge of the common
five roughly parallel ditches run north westwards, dividing the area of
settlement into plots of varying width, and these plots, each of which is
thought to represent a separate property, are in turn subdivided internally by
one or more shorter ditches into smaller rectangular or sub-rectangular
enclosures which contained the houses and outbuildings, and the associated
gardens or paddocks.

The easternmost enclosure, adjacent to the road, is sub-rectangular and
contains an earthen platform about 6m square which marks the site of a
building close to the road. A wall footing of dressed limestone and flint is
partly exposed in the eastern face of the platform. At the eastern end of the
ditch which defines the north side of this enclosure is a pond, and
immediately to the west of the pond the ditch is expanded northwards to form a
rectangular depression about 0.4m deep, containing a rectangular island or
platform which may also have supported a building. The plot to the west of
this is approximately 58m wide, and is subdivided into three enclosures. The
surface of the southernmost of the three, adjoining the common, is uneven and
includes another possible building platform approximately 24m in length
north-south, defined by scarps on the north and west sides. The next plot,
which may in fact have been part of the same holding, since the boundary
between does not appear to extend the full length, is slightly narrower in
width and subdivided by a single cross ditch from which shorter lengths of
ditch run longitudinally south east and north west. In the southern part there
are three probable building platforms, two measuring approximately 12m by 8m
and arranged at right angles to one another on either side of the longitudinal
division, and the third, slightly longer and narrower, situated to the north
of these. The fourth plot, beyond this, is subdivided by cross ditches into
three enclosures, the middle one of which contains a possible building
platform, but there is no visible evidence of a building on the fifth plot,
which is narrower, having a maximum width of 28m, and is divided into two
enclosures of equal size. There are indications of a further plot beyond,
subdivided towards its southern end, although this appears to be truncated by
the modern field boundary.

On the tithe map of 1840, the ditch between the third and fourth plots is
shown as a boundary between two fields in different ownership, and the field
to the east is named in the tithe apportionment as Newgates. The name Newgates
also occurs in a survey of 1593 and in an early 17th century document. In the
1593 survey, Newgates, probably named after a former tenant, is one of several
messuages, or dwellings, abutting the common in a furlong or block of land at
Southmore Street. It is stated to be next to messuage `sometime Smithes' and
next but one to another, also `sometime Smithes'. Elsewhere the survey
describes the holding of Henry Browne in right of his wife including `one
messuage and a barne, buildings, stable and other edifices ...being between
the lands of Mr Baker in Southmore on the west and the lands of the said
Thomas Baker sometime Newgates on the easte and abutteth the common on the
south'. Other named messuages evidently lay further to the north, north west
and south east, along the eastern edge of the common. Newgates, which was
evidently one of the larger farms in the parish, is described in the 17th
century document as being at Southmore End (the earlier form of Summer End)
and as having 80 acres of land in the common fields and 10 acres of pasture.

Although the survey does not cover the whole of the village, it describes a
pattern of messuages, interspersed with crofts and closes, running back from
the edge of the common and, in references to `void' or unoccupied messuages
and a `tofte, sometime a messuage', provides evidence that a decline or shift
in the population was already taking place before the end of the 16th century.

The timber fencing of a pen towards the eastern end of the field is excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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 East Norfolk local region was characterised by numerous medieval villages
and hamlets, rather than the isolated halls and scattered farmsteads that
dominated other regions of Norfolk. Archaeological evidence indicates that
this has been a prosperous farming area since Roman times, and its woodland
may have been largely cleared long before the Norman Conquest.

In some areas of medieval England settlement was dispersed across the
landscape rather than nucleated into villages. Such dispersed settlement in an
area, usually a township or parish, is defined by the lack of a single (or
principal) nucleated settlement focus such as a village and the presence
instead of small settlement units (small hamlets of farmsteads) spread across
the area. These small settlements normally have a degree of interconnection
with their close neighbours, for example in relation to shared common land or
road systems. Dispersed settlement varied enormously from region to region,
but where they survive as earthworks their distinguishing features include
roads and other minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other
buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. In areas
where stone was used for building, the outline of building foundations may
still be clearly visible. Communal areas of the settlements frequently include
features such as bakehouses, pinfolds and ponds. Areas of dispersed medieval
settlement are found in both the South Eastern province and the Northern and
Western Provinces of England. They are found in upland and also in some
lowland areas. Where found, their archaeological remains are one of the most
importance sources of understanding about rural life in the five or more
centuries following the Norman Conquest.

Many dispersed medieval settlements in Norfolk and other parts of East Anglia
were strung along the edges of greens or commons, and the remains of medieval
and early post-medieval settlement at Summer End are a good example of this
type. The earthworks and buried remains will contain archaeological
information relating to the use and history of the individual plots and will,
together with the remains which survive further to the north west, contribute
greatly to an understanding of the organisation of the settlement as a whole
in the medieval and early post-medieval periods, complementing the information
contained in historical documents.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Langdon, T, East Walton otherwise called Emhowse in East Walton, (1593)
NRO Ref. BIR.32/2, A particular of messuages... of the manors of Priory etc.,
Title: A Topographical Map of the County of Norfolk
Source Date: 1797

Title: East Walton: Tithe Map and Apportionment
Source Date: 1840
NRO Ref. DN/TA 675

Source: Historic England

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