Medieval settlement remains east of Walton Common


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019334

Date first listed: 09-Nov-2000


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement remains east of Walton Common
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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 74034 16778, TF 74244 16478


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 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.


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


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 originally.

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 buildings.

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.

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: 30587

Legacy System: RSM


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

End of official listing