Remains of medieval settlement 400m east of Church Farm, Arminghall


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Remains of medieval settlement 400m east of Church Farm, Arminghall
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Norfolk (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TG 25411 04558

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, sited at the centre of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but when they survive as earthworks their most distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed 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 remains as well as buried deposits. During the medieval and post- medieval periods, parts of villages were sometimes abandoned as the community decreased in size or the centre of occupation shifted. In the High Norfolk region of East Anglia villages are one of the characteristic features of the pattern of medieval settlement, and their archaeological remains are an important source of understanding of life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest.

Arminghall is a good example of a village in which the area occupied by dwellings, buildings in use and associated features has contracted in size, leaving remains of an abandoned area of earlier settlement. These remains 400m east of Church Farm include a variety of the elements characteristic of a medieval and early post-medieval village, and will retain archaeological information concerning the medieval and post-medieval village organisation and economy and the lives of its inhabitants, as well as the process of shifting occupation.


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of part of the medieval and post-medieval village of Arminghall, located to the north and east of the modern village and west of the modern Bungay Road, which was created at the beginning of the 19th century. The earthworks extend across the former boundary between the parishes of Arminghall and Bixley, towards those of the medieval village of Bixley which are visible to the north east, some 450m east of Bungay Road, and are the subject of a separate scheduling.

The visible remains, which are contained within four adjoining fields, include tofts (homestead enclosures) and ditches defining other small enclosures and rectilinear fields, associated with a branching system of roads represented by well developed hollow ways. One hollow way, up to 1.5m deep at the northern end, follows the line of the old parish boundary north-south across the northernmost field, branching west and south eastwards near its southern boundary. Along the west side of this is a rectangular enclosure, bounded on the west side by a low bank and ditch and across the northern end by a low, north facing scarp in which a slight depression marks the site of an opening into a second, adjoining enclosure. A third enclosure to the west of these is defined by a low, curving bank or causeway approximately 6m wide, bordered in part by a ditch which diverges south westwards towards the southern end, and adjoining this ditch on the west side there are features thought to be the remains of a small enclosure which was perhaps a toft.

According to a map made in 1769, the eastward branch of the hollow way extended to the western boundary of the modern field, along the approximate line of the southern boundary, although much of the western part is no longer visible. At the western end of the more clearly defined eastern part is the junction with another hollow way, approximately 10m wide and up to 2m deep, which runs in a curving line south and south westwards across the north western modern field towards the site of a former green or common which is shown on 18th century maps between the site of Arminghall Old Hall (which is not included in the scheduling) and a plot to the north of St Mary's Church. In the area between this hollow way and the eastern field boundary, which follows the line of the former parish boundary, there are three enclosures divided by slight east-west ditches and marked as`pightles'(small enclosed fields) on 18th century maps. Between the hollow way and the western boundaries of the two southern pightles there are earthworks showing some evidence of modern disturbance (probably relating to a filter bed to the north, which is totally excluded from the scheduling) but defining parts of a toft with an entrance from the hollow way at the south western corner and, on the east side, a sub-rectangular raised platform which is thought to have supported a building, possibly one of two or more which are shown in this location on the 18th century maps and on the enclosure map of 1800. Adjoining this toft on the south side is part of another enclosure containing a slightly raised platform, which is marked as a garden on a map compiled in 1779 and as a stackyard on the map of 1800. Opposite this, on the west side of the hollow way, are the remains of a further enclosure, defined on the north and north west sides by a wide ditch which corresponds to a boundary on the map of 1800, and to the west of this again and north of the site of the hall is a slight ditch marking the eastern boundary of an area which is marked as part of the garden of the old hall and an orchard on the maps of 1779 and 1800 respectively.

The south eastward branch of the hollow way in the northern field is visible as a relatively shallow linear hollow approximately 10m wide, running towards the boundary between the field and the gardens of Meadow Cottages to the south. Just to the south of this point it branches again, east and southwards, although the junction has been obscured by later activity in the gardens, which are excluded from the scheduling. The eastward branch, which leads towards the site of the medieval village of Bixley, is visible to the east of the garden area, extending alongside the northern boundary of the south eastern modern field up to Bungay Road, the line to the east of the road continuing as a track which remains in use. The southward branch is visible to the south of the cottage gardens, where it is up to 2m deep and 15m wide, and runs SSE towards the south eastern corner of the field, although the southern half is shallower and less well defined, with evidence of later disturbance.

In the south western part of the eastern field, to the east of the old parish boundary, there are slight ditches up to 4m wide, scarps and banks which define two narrow, sub-rectangular enclosures aligned roughly parallel to the old boundary and probably representing crofts or smallholdings. These enclosures are depicted on the map of 1769 with buildings at their southern ends fronting Arminghall Lane. A continuation of the line of the eastern boundary of the western of the two enclosures can be traced across the northern part of the field, also. In the south eastern part of the western enclosure, adjoining its eastern boundary, two much smaller rectangular internal enclosures are defined by low scarps, the northern of the two being bounded on the eastern side by a slight bank, also, with a gap marking an entrance.

To the west of this, at the southern end of the south western field and immediately to the north of cottages fronting Arminghall Lane, can be seen the rear parts of up to three adjoining tofts defined by ditches up to 6m wide and 0.5m deep, and in the westernmost of these there are low mounds which perhaps mark the sites of buildings.

The evidence of the early maps shows that some of the surviving features may be of post-medieval date and others of those which are thought to be medieval in origin, including a large part of the system of hollow ways, remained in use until a relatively late date. The abandonment of settlement in this part of Arminghall was a therefore a gradual process, continuing into the early 19th century.

All field fences and gates, the surface of a track giving access to Meadow Cottages, service poles and a transformer near the southern boundary are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included. The filter bed is totally excluded 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:
Legacy System:


Edwards, D, TG 2504/AN-AP, (1993)
Edwards, D, TG 2504/J, K, (1977)
Norfolk RO DCN 127/22, Bird, B, Plan of the parish of Arminghall in Norfolk, (1800)
Title: A Copy of Sundry Plans of the Town of Armingale Source Date: 1779 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Norfolk RO DCN 127/6
Title: Plan of an estate lying in Bixley Source Date: 1769 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

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