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Medieval settlement remains east of Walton Common

A Scheduled Monument in East Walton, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.7177 / 52°43'3"N

Longitude: 0.5783 / 0°34'41"E

OS Eastings: 574242.8163

OS Northings: 316451.4745

OS Grid: TF742164

Mapcode National: GBR P5P.P04

Mapcode Global: WHKQF.VYKG

Entry Name: Medieval settlement remains east of Walton Common

Scheduled Date: 9 November 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019334

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30587

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: East Walton

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk


The monument, which is in two separate areas of protection, includes
earthworks and buried remains of part of a medieval and early post-medieval
settlement situated to the south of the road to East Winch, between the former
edge of Walton Common on the west side, and the road now known as Church Lane
on the east. Church Lane was at one time the main road through the village and
continued south to join what is now the A47 and, prior to enclosures in the
second quarter of the 19th century, Walton Common was much more extensive and
ran south and south eastwards to join Pentney Common. The ruins of a medieval
church associated with the settlement can be seen to the south of the
monument, in the garden of Abbey Farm, and these and the remains of another
area of settlement which survive at Summer End, about a kilometre to the south
east, are the subject of separate schedulings.

The first part of the monument lies along the north side of Common Lane and
the second part is some 200m to the south east of this. In both parts the
earthworks define groups of adjoining rectilinear enclosures which have the
characteristic appearance of tofts (homestead enclosures) with associated
yards, gardens and crofts, and the northern part also contains the probable
site of a manor house, identifiable from documentary sources. The various
enclosures are bordered by partly infilled ditches, visible as linear
depressions from 4m to 6m wide and up to 0.6m deep.

The earthworks which represent the probable remains of the manor house lie in
the eastern half of the northern part of the monument, bounded on the north
side by a ditch which runs WSW from the road to East Winch and on the south
side by Common Lane. The eastern part of this area contains features which
perhaps relate to a garden. On the north eastern side it is partially
subdivided by two ditches which run SSE from the northern boundary ditch, the
western of the two ditches having a low bank along the western side. In the
south eastern part, in the angle between the road and Common Lane, is a
slightly raised area enclosed on the north and west sides by a wide, L-shaped
depression, and to the west and north west of this feature is a quadrangular
area defined on the north eastern side by a slight bank and on the north and
north western side by a low scarp, measuring approximately 72m north
west-south east by 66m and containing a pond. Along the western side of the
possible garden area is a series of low platforms and ridges which are
considered to mark the sites of buildings, the most clearly defined, located
towards the northern side of the site, being a roughly rectangular platform
about 10m square with slight ridges along the eastern and western sides.
Beyond these is an open area crossed NNW-SSE by the remains of a hedgerow
which is thought to be of post-medieval date. The remaining part of the site
is divided into plots varying from about 12m to 50m in width by a series of
roughly parallel ditches aligned NNW-SSE. The two narrowest plots are on the
east side of this group and are interpreted as tofts with yards or gardens
separated by cross ditches to the rear. The ground surface of the tofts, at
the southern end, is uneven, with slightly raised platforms which are thought
to have supported buildings, and in the enclosures to the north of the
easternmost toft is a narrow platform about 13m in length north-south and 3m
wide where an outbuilding may have stood. The plot to the west of these is
wider and subdivided by a cross ditch towards the southern end, and beyond it
is an even broader enclosure. The northern boundary of both is marked by a
broad, low bank. The second of the two enclosures contains a pond from which
ditches run north west and eastwards, and to the south of the pond and ditches
are two hollows which have the appearance of quarry pits. The ground to the
west, which is not included in the scheduling, was probably part of the common

In the tithe apportionment of 1840 a field at the eastern end of the site,
containing the probable remains of the manor house, is named as Waltons.
Towards the end of the 14th century one of the manors of East Walton, known as
Stranges after the Le Strange family who held it in the 13th century, was
conveyed, presumably as copyhold (a form of customary tenure recorded in the
Manorial court rolls), to William Walton of East Walton and was sometimes
referred to thereafter as Waltons Manor, and in 1497 the then Lord of the
Manor, Sir Roger Wentworth, granted to William Baker and his heirs land which
included the site of the manor of Waltons and Waltons Croft, together with
several adjoining closes, one of which is named as Oleyfold, probably to be
identified with the fields immediately to the south of Waltons, on the
opposite side of Common Lane, which are named in the tithe apportionment as
Ullers Close and Ullers Pasture.

The second part of the monument, which extends northwards from either side of
the buildings and yard of Abbey Farm, contains a contiguous series of
rectangular enclosures which run east-west in long, roughly parallel lines
across a gentle slope between Church Lane and a sinuous drain which
corresponds to the line of the edge of the common as shown on Bryant's map of
Norfolk, published in 1826. Some of the boundaries between the enclosures
continue west of this line, although the ditches between them are less well
defined. Most of the east-west linear plots are subdivided by one or more
cross ditches and several of these subsiduary enclosures form low terraces,
with a pronounced scarp above the ditch at their western end. At the northern
end of the area, opposite the Greyhound Public House, three rectangular
enclosures about 125m in length and from 30m to 47m in width extend back from
the road, and about 62m west of these is a low sub-rectangular mound which
perhaps marks the site of a building. A narrow enclosure about 8m wide,
subdivided by a cross ditch, runs from the western end of the southernmost of
three enclosures towards the former edge of the common, and to the south of
this, adjoining the common edge is a probable toft containing a slightly
raised area, the position of which corresponds approximately to that of a
building shown on the map of 1826. To the east of the probable toft, extending
in line to the road, are two further enclosures defined by ditches with low
internal banks. The next two linear plots to the south are of similar pattern,
though broader, with tofts containing sub-rectangular, raised platforms at the
western end and larger enclosures to the east. The area to the south of this
contains the remains of several narrower plots, some only partially defined,
with another probable building platform situated to the north of the farm

This second area is partially documented in a survey of Thomas Baker's manor
of Emhouse, compiled in 1593, which refers to various furlongs (blocks) of
messuages (homesteads) and closes, and describes the location of some of the
messuages within them. One freehold messuage is described as being in the
third furlong containing the `sometime Richolds', between the lands of the
manor of the late Roger Wentworth's to the north and south and abutting the
highway to the west. Richolds, referred to in a slightly later document as a
`capital' (chief) messuage, can be identified as occupying the site where
Abbey Farm now stands, as it is stated to be to the north of `the land which
was formerly the churchyard of St Andrew's'. This was land which was part of
the manor formerly held by West Dereham Abbey and sometimes referred to as
Abbots. The reference to it as a capital messuage indicates that it had been
the manor house. Details of the manor formerly held by Roger Wentworth, which
had been given to Christ Church College, Oxford by Edward VI and was generally
referred to as Howards and Stranges, are not included in the survey, although
leased by Thomas Baker.

Although the survey does not provide a complete account of the village, it
describes the general 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.

Within the same area, and included in the scheduling, is an intact World War
II hexagonal pillbox (type 22) with brick shuttering, an entrance on the south
west side and internal anti-ricochet wall. An aerial photograph taken in 1946
by the RAF shows circular earthwork and gun emplacements to the south and
north west of the pill box, although these have been levelled and are no
longer visible. To the north of the area of protection were five further
emplacements, including a possible searchlight battery, the sites of which are
not included in the scheduling.

All modern fences and field gates are excluded from the scheduling, together
with service poles, drinking troughs and supply pipes, 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 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 or 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 settlements 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 settlement 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
important 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 medieval settlement
remains east of Walton Common are a very good example of this type. The
earthworks and buried remains will contain archaeological information relating
to the use and history of the individual plots, which represent farmsteads and
smallholdings at various social and economic levels within the community, and
will, together with the remains which survive to the south, at Summer End,
contribute greatly to an understanding of the organization 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)
Langdon, T, East Walton otherwise called Emhowse in East Walton, (1593)
NRO Ref. BIR 30, Adamson, C, Letter to Dr Tanner,
NRO Ref. BIR.32/2, A particular of messuages... of the manors of Priory etc.,
NRO Ref. BIR.32/2, A particular of messuages... of the manors of Priory etc.,
RAF 3C/TUD/UK51, (1946)
Title: A Topographical Map of the County of Norfolk
Source Date: 1797

Title: East Walton, Tithe Map
Source Date: 1840
NRO Ref. DN/TA 675
Title: East Walton: Tithe Map and Apportionment
Source Date: 1840
NRO Ref. DN/TA 675
Title: Map of the County of Norfolk
Source Date: 1826

Source: Historic England

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