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Norwich, Thetford and A11 corridor National Mapping Programme Project

Some of Norfolk’s most important archaeological sites such as the Roman town at Caistor St Edmund are situated close to Norwich. With the possibility of new building work around the city it was important to find out what other archaeological sites were present to help in the planning decisions made. New development is also planned for the nearby town of Thetford and aerial surveys were undertaken around the town, the city and along the A11 that links the two.

Colour aerial photo showing area of excavation with several circular features seen as darker lines against stripped topsoil
Excavations at Harford Farm photographed on 05-APR-1990 (NLA257/GFQ7) © Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service. Photograph by D A Edwards.

A Roman town

The survey has revealed the full extent of a triple-ditched enclosure that surrounded the Caistor Roman walled town. The enclosure was previously interpreted as a Roman fort, established before the town, immediately after the Boudicca revolt. However the enclosures kite-shaped plan (the blue line on the illustration) suggests it relates to early town defences prior to the construction go the walls around the the 3rd century AD. The NMP mapping has also revealed further detail of the network of roads and structures (red on the illustration) associated with the town.

Colour map extract showing archaeological features in red and green against a greyscale map background
NMP extract of Caistor Roman town © Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service/Historic England. Ordnance Survey map reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO © Crown Copyright, licence number 100019340.

The medieval landscape

Aerial photographs of the area to the east of Norwich show several archaeological sites which are located within the proposed line of the Northern Distributor Road (NDR) including a large, partially double-ditched, D-shaped enclosure at Great Plumstead. This medieval or post medieval enclosure sits with the remains of fields of the same date. It lies within a relatively dense area of archaeological sites visible on the sands and gravels to the north of the River Yare, which includes a possible ring ditch or oval barrow dating to the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age, and at least one possible late Iron Age to early Roman D-shaped enclosure.

Colour map extract showing archaeological features in red and green against a greyscale map background
NMP extract of Plumstead. NMP mapping © Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service/Historic England. Ordnance Survey map reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO © Crown Copyright, licence number 100019340.

Defending the city

From the more recent past, the project has recorded a Second World War heavy anti-aircraft battery on the site of Mousehold Aerodrome, to the northeast of Norwich. This is just one of several such defences that protected the city from aerial attack during the Second World War.

Black and white vertical aerial photograph
Heavy anti-aircraft battery at Mousehold aerodrome photographed on 07-SEP-1945 (RAF/106G/UK/776 6184) Historic England RAF photography

The rest of the key findings from the project can be found in a series of reports

The Archaeology of Norwich ‘Growth Point’ & Environs

The Archaeology of Norwich ‘Growth Point’ & Environs

Published 1 December 2010

Report from the Norwich environs NMP project.

The Archaeology of Thetford ‘Growth Point’ & Environs

The Archaeology of Thetford ‘Growth Point’ & Environs

Published 1 March 2011

Report from the Thetford Growth Point NMP mapping project.

The Archaeology of the ‘A11 Corridor’

The Archaeology of the ‘A11 Corridor’

Published 1 March 2013

A report on the aerial survey of the A11 corridor as part of the broader Norwich, Thetford and A11 Corridor NMP Project.

Using Air Photo Mapping for Strategic Planning in Growth Areas

Using Air Photo Mapping for Strategic Planning in Growth Areas

Published 1 March 2013

A final summary report on the aerial survey of the Norwich, Thetford and A11 Corridor NMP Project.

For further details about any Norfolk NMP project, please contact:
Norfolk Historic Environment Service, Union House, Gressenhall, Dereham, Norfolk NR20 4DR; tel 01362 869283; email sophie.tremlett@norfolk.gov.uk

Further details of these and other archaeological sites in Norfolk can be found on the Norfolk Heritage Explorer website.

For further information on a project or any other aspect of the work of the Remote Sensing Team please contact us via email using the link below.

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