HEFA Excavations at Hillington 2016

Review of Findings so Far - Dr J Bond, Society Chairman

Later Bronze Age:

A high location, overlooking, south the Gaywood Valley (dip-slope). The 2015 and 2016 TP results are distributed South-West and North-East of the church location, forms a locale for occupation c.1,000 BC. The number of sherds suggest, sustained occupation (sealed contexts, at depth, TP 2, rather than a distribution from marling/pottery scatters.

This is a time when rural settlement is often viewed as becoming more sedentary, field boundaries, farmsteads and hamlets emerge. But seasonal settlement and more dynamic settlement systems have also been posited by Bruck (2001) and others. Noteworthy, is the closeness to modern drains, possible spring-lines? This pottery is Post-Deverall Rimbury Ware - undecorated (Barrett 1980).

Significantly, presently there is no evidence of more harder, wares, with shell and/or flint - temper, plain or, decorated forms, indicative of earlier Iron Age pottery/settlement


Locations near to the A148 and Hospice location; the excavation prior to the construction at the Hospice yielded Roman pottery, field boundaries.

The location is high, with good views west across into the Gaywood Valley, into Congham, also a well established Roman settlement. The sherd is deeply stratified - hill-wash, as re-deposited plough soil?

Middle Anglo-Saxon:

Interestingly, the Ipswich Ware location, relatively close to the church siting (TP 3, 2015) has not been added to. However, this pottery type is notoriously difficult to recover by fieldwalking and excavation and has often been miss-identified, with Roman grey-ware and vice versus (Williamson 1988).

Further work is needed to re-visit and assess what the TP 3 result means, as it could be an indicator of a middle Saxon settlement, rather than a marling spread and it is close to the church siting.

Following Wade-Martins (1980) research in the Launditch Hundred in the 1970s, Norfolk archaeologists have tried to pin down, middle Saxon settlement and its relationship to the earliest church sittings. So, TP 3 and the church location is worthy of more focused excavation or shovel test pitting

Late Anglo-Saxon:

The 2016 test pits, TP 7 and 8, now demonstrate a settlement (with sealed and deep contexts) away from the 2015 test pits, church-focused location. So, the church location, may well have been an initial middle - late Anglo-Saxon focus for a hamlet. However, the A148, certainly by 1066 was a main route, then post-Conquest is the Walsingham Way.

So, the question is now - how chronologically refined can we be about the two foci, which one is earlier, or are they both broadly contemporary? This may indicate two late Anglo-Saxon road-side settlements, one overlooking the Gaywood Valley, the second higher up slope, linked to a well established west-east route across West Norfolk to High Norfolk

High Medieval:

Both the 2015 TP church-focus, but also the A148 alignment is picked up, with the 2016 TP results. These test pit results seem to emphasis a spatial expansion, classically, this period is an expansion period, just after the Conquest, and prior to the population and economic impact of the mid-14th C Black Death. Deeply excavated sherds, must indicate middens 'in-situ', indicative of established settlement

Late Medieval:

The two locales, mid-Congham/Station Road and adjacent the A148, indicates less activity. The dramatic loss of test pits yielding pottery sherds, from High to Late Medieval is significant. The ratio of the 20-15-16 Test pits results is: 13/2, an 84.6% reduction. Is this the impact of the Black Death on a developing road-side settlement(s), then turned into a depopulated and shrunken village?!

Post Medieval:

Both looking at the 2015 and 2016 test pit locations, this seems to suggest a revival of the two (?) settlement locations - church/Station-Congham Road and A148 and the Walsingham Way. So, is this the rural economy, contemporary with the later fabric, mouldings/architecture of the existing church, recovering from the impact of the Black Death?


  • Barrett, J. 1980. 'The pottery of the Later Bronze Age in Lowland England.' Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, vol. 46, 297-319.
  • Bruck, J. (ed.) 2001. Bronze Age Landscapes: Traditions and Transformations. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
  • Wade-Martins, P. 1980. Village sites in the Launditch Hundred. East Anglia Archaeology 10. Dereham.
  • Williamson, T. 1988. Settlement chronology and regional landscapes: the evidence of the claylands of East Anglia and Essex. In D. Hooke (ed.).
  • Anglo-Saxon Settlements. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2018/19 Lectures

The program of lectures for the next season can now be found under the 'Lectures' tab above.

Summer Visits 2019

Marshland Maritime Museum

This visit is planned to take place on Saturday 18th May starting at 10:30am.

Further Details


St Mary's, Houghton

This visit is planned to take place on Saturday 7th September starting at 10:30am.

Further Details


WNKLAS In The News

The society has been in the local Newspapers recently in coverage of the conference to celebrate our 50year anniversary and also the presentation to John Smallwood one of the founders.

Press Article


King John's Treasure

The society's investigation of a local farm contributed to a programme made for US television as part of the Expidition Unknown series. This systematic survey of an area that was a likely route for the Royal Treasure was also the subject of a recent lecture evening.

More Information