Medieval settlement remains immediately west of All Saints' Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020446

Date first listed: 11-Feb-2002


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement remains immediately west of All Saints' Church
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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: Shouldham

National Grid Reference: TF 67988 08844


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

Reasons for Designation

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 include one or more manorial centres which may also survive as visible remains as well as buried deposits. In the West Norfolk region villages are a characteristic feature of the pattern of rural settlement and their archaeological remains are an important source of understanding about rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest.

The medieval remains immediately west of All Saints' Church are an example of an area of settlement which has been abandoned within a surviving village. The earthworks survive well, displaying little evidence of disturbance since the site was abandoned, and the monument, which is closely associated with one of the medieval manors in the parish and includes a variety of characteristic components, will contain archaeological evidence concerning the social and domestic organisation of the community in the medieval and early post-medieval periods. The documentary evidence which relates to the site in the early 17th century gives the monument additional interest, as does the likelihood that some of the earthworks relate to a late medieval or 16th century garden associated with Colt's Hall.

Gardens of medieval and early post-medieval date take a variety of forms. Some involved significant water management works to create elaborate water gardens which could include a series of ponds and even ornamental canal systems. At other sites flower gardens were favoured, with planting in elaborately shaped and often geometrically laid out beds. Planting arrangements were often complemented with urns, statues and other garden furniture. Such sites were often provided with walkways, terraces or prospect mounds which provided a vantage point from which the garden design could be seen and fully appreciated. Gardens were probably a common accompaniment to high-status houses in the medieval and early post-medieval periods and provide a valuable insight into contemporary aesthetics and views about how the landscape could be modified to enhance the surroundings of a house and symbolise the social hierarchy, but fewer than 500 surviving examples of all types have been identified. In view of the rarity of surviving examples, the great variety of form, and the importance for understanding high-status houses and their occupants, all examples of early date retaining well-preserved earthworks or significant buried remains will be identified as nationally important.

The terraces and walkway, which have the appearance of ornamental garden landscape features, are of particular interest as a probable example of late medieval or early post-medieval garden remains associated with a manor house.


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


The monument includes earthworks and buried remains of an area of medieval settlement situated on a west-facing slope on the east side of the village of Shouldham, immediately to the west of All Saints' Church and occupying an area to the north, east and south east of Colt's Hall. The earthworks are thought to include remains of tofts (homestead enclosures) and associated crofts, although the most conspicuous of them appear to be the result of late medieval or 16th century garden landscaping. The site is recorded in a field book of 1633, from which it is clear that the majority of the earthworks, if not all of them, are of earlier date.

The relevant part of the field book describes a series of enclosures and tenements running southward from the site of Shouldham Priory (the subject of a separate scheduling) some 600m to the north of the monument. One of the reference points is `the church lane called the Beerway' the location of which, as described, corresponds to that of a slightly raised causeway, shown as a track on early 19th century maps and still marked as a public footpath. This footpath runs from Eastgate Street eastwards along the northern boundary of the grounds of Colt's Hall and beyond it for a distance of about 165m, then south towards the church along the western boundary of a modern churchyard extension. A linear hollow, up to 10m wide running along the southern side of this causeway, could be the remains of an earlier hollow way.

In the area to the north of this feature and immediately east of Eastgate Street, there are at least four small, rectangular enclosures defined by the remains of ditches which are visible as intersecting linear hollows of varying depth and width. The first of these enclosures, adjoining the path, measures approximately 87m east-west by 25m, although the eastern end is occupied by the modern village hall and is not included in the scheduling. Adjoining this along the north side are three smaller enclosures about 37m in width running in line eastwards back from the street. The ditch which forms the eastern boundary of the enclosures is open to a depth of approximately 0.6m, but the others are slighter in character. To the north of the enclosures and close to the street is a rectilinear hollow up to 1m deep, surrounding two sides of a sub-rectangular platform which may have supported a building. Slightly further to the north are various irregular hollows which are probably the result of quarrying. To the north east of the enclosures and about 100m back from the street is a low north-south ridge which may be the remains of a boundary feature. The enclosures are considered to represent at least two tofts and associated yards or gardens. The field which contains them corresponds to the greater part of a close of just over nine acres named in the 17th century field book as Batchelors and described as to the north of the Beerway, east of the street and west of the Abbey churchway. The Abbey churchway was, on the evidence of early 19th century maps, a track running southward from Abbey Farm towards the church. No adjoining cottages or tenements are mentioned in the field book, and it is evident that the site had already ceased to be occupied when it was compiled.

The area due east of Colt's Hall and to the south of the path identified as the Beerway is divided into two roughly rectangular enclosures by the slight remains of a north-south ditch, the southern boundary of the enclosures being marked by a pronounced, south-facing scarp up to 2m in height. The eastern half of the scarp marks the northern edge of a broad linear depression about 20m wide with a crowned central ridge or walkway about 5m wide and 1m high. At the eastern end this feature terminates in a stepped slope rising about 3m towards the churchyard south of the church. On the slope to the south of the walkway are three rectangular terraces, each measuring approximately 115m in length north-south and 38m in width, rising eastwards in scarps between 1m and 2m in height with slight linear hollows along the foot of the scarps between the lower and middle terrace and the middle and upper terrace. Along the northern edge of the lower, western terrace, bordering the avenue, is a slight bank, and on the eastern side, towards the southern end, are two slightly raised, sub-rectangular platforms of a type which often supported buildings. The middle terrace is divided into two unequal enclosures by the slight remains of an east-west ditch bordered on the south side by a bank. The surface of the smaller, northern enclosure, which measures approximately 20m north-south, is uneven, with two possible building platforms and, to the west of these, further irregularities which may mark the site of another building. At the southern end of the adjacent larger enclosure is another slightly raised platform and, running northwards from this alongside the slight ditch on the eastern side of the terrace, a bank about 0.5m in height. The surface of the upper terrace shows no irregularities. The scarps marking the southern edge of the terraces rise up to 2.5m above an irregular linear hollow about 8m wide. In the area to the south of this, bounded on the south side by the Norwich Road and on the east side by the modern Church Road, there are traces of east-west ridges thought to be the result of cultivation, with a narrow enclosure to the west, defined on the eastern side by a slight ditch and on the western side by a low scarp. The ground to the west of the terraces and the enclosures to the south of them is low lying and very damp in the southern part. The slightly dryer part to the north contains two contiguous enclosures defined to the north and south by slight east-west ditches and on the east side by a low, west-facing scarp. The ditches may be the remains of drainage features. In the south west corner, bordering the road, is a low, sub-rectangular platform measuring about 38m WNW-ESE by 28m which corresponds to the site of a pound, used for confining stray animals, marked on the Ordnance Survey map of 1883.

The early 17th century field book describes `a capitall messuage' (manor house) and a close called Colt's to the south of the Beerway and east of the street and market place. The area of this `capitall messuage' and close is given as six acres, which corresponds closely to the combined area of the grounds of Colt's Hall as shown on early 19th century maps, the earthwork enclosures due east of it and the walkway along the south side of the enclosures. The field book goes on to list four tenements with yards along the east side of the village green south of Colts, an alder carr of nearly seven acres (2.8ha) to the east of these tenements and a wooded close of five acres (2ha) called Appletons to the east of the alder carr. The terraces and the ground to the south of them correspond in location and area to Appletons, and the low lying area to the west, together with an adjoining plantation, correspond to the alder carr. The terraces and the walkway have the character of late medieval or early post-medieval formal garden earthworks such as might have been associated with Colt's Hall when it was occupied as a manor house, and are unlikely to be later than the mid-16th century. (In 1633 Colts was occupied by a tenant farmer and the alder carr and Appletons were in the tenure of two others). The subsiduary earthworks on the terraces, if not the remains of garden features, may relate to a period of occupation following the abandonment of the garden or to the later history of Colt's farm which, by the early 19th century included the whole area of the monument, as shown on an estate map of 1811-1818. In the Tithe Apportionment of 1843 the area to the east and south east of Colt's Hall is named as the homestall of the farm, and the field to the north (Batchelors) as Further Homestall.

There were three principal manors in Shouldham. Colt's manor, also known as Trussbutt's, was held by the Trussbutt family in the 14th and 15th centuries and passed by marriage to Thomas Colt. In 1587 it was sold by George Colt to Thomas Shouldham who shortly afterwards sold it to Judge Gawdy, who also acquired Shouldham Priory manor. Through Gawdy's grand-daughter the united manors passed to the Earl of Warwick and ultimately, in 1632, to Sir John Hare of Stowe Bardolph.

Modern fences, gates and service poles are excluded from the scheduling, 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: 30601

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Blomefield, F, An Essay towards a Topographical History of Norfolk, (1807)
Smallwood, J, 'Council for British Archaeology Group 6: Bulletin' in Council for British Archaeology Group 6: Bulletin, , Vol. 26, (1981), 14
Edwards, D, TF6808/E; TF 6808/F, (1978)
NF 4290 St Margaret's Church, Shouldham,
NRO Ref. Hare 2495, Field Book, (1633)
Title: Map of Estates of Sir Thomas Hare Source Date: 1811 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: NRO Ref. Hare 6832
Title: Map of Estates of Sir Thomas Hare Source Date: 1811 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: NRO Ref. Hare 6832
Title: Map of the County of Norfolk Source Date: 1998 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Edn published 1998 by Larks Press

End of official listing