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


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019333

Date first listed: 09-Nov-2000


Ordnance survey map of Remains of medieval and early post-medieval settlement at Summer End
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: King's Lynn and West Norfolk (District Authority)

Parish: East Walton

National Grid Reference: TF 74945 15407


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 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.


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


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.

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: 30585

Legacy System: RSM


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

End of official listing