Remains of medieval settlement 380m south of Park Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018177

Date first listed: 20-Aug-1998


Ordnance survey map of Remains of medieval settlement 380m south of Park Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: South Norfolk (District Authority)

Parish: Bixley

National Grid Reference: TG 25958 04928


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 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.


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


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 boundary.

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 included.

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

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: 30542

Legacy System: RSM


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 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Drawn from survey by Osborn, 1769

End of official listing