Medieval settlement 370m north of Grove Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018176

Date first listed: 20-Aug-1998


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement 370m north of Grove Farm
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Oct-2018 at 13:05:49.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: North Norfolk (District Authority)

Parish: Wighton

National Grid Reference: TF 94588 40364


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 30541

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing