IRON AGE

​Thus far, we have not been able to date any Iron Age settlement activity at Sedgeford before the Late Iron Age. In 2010, a further crouched burial was discovered close to the previous year’s Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age burial. The grave contained the skeleton of an approximately 50 year old female. Also found within the grave fill was a cow scapula and another flat-topped flint nodule. The grave fill also contained six bead-like objects, one being a man-made amber bead, another was of baked clay and the rest being fossils. Nine sherds of pottery were also found within the grave fill; an intrusive Anglo-Saxon sherd from an upper fill, the rest being Iron Age from lower fills. Radiocarbon dating gave a date of death of 373 – 203 cal. BC, making this solitary Middle Iron Age burial an unusual one for the region. 

However, a wealth of evidence discovered by excavation, fieldwalking and metal detecting, suggest an elevated status for Sedgeford during the Late Iron Age period. The first discovery of note occurred in Polar Breck field back in 1965. The Sedgeford Torc was discovered by agricultural machining. Although damaged, a terminal was missing and the rest of the torc had been twisted out of shape, the torc remains one of the finest examples discovered from the period. In April 2004, during a SHARP field survey, metal detectorist Steve Hammond discovered the missing terminal, thus reuniting the two fragments. 

Polar Breck field is located to the south of where much of SHARP’s excavations have been undertaken. It was closer to the Heacham River valley where several other discoveries have been made, suggesting the area’s use as a river edge sanctuary during the Late Iron Age. In the late summer of 2003, during the excavation of the Anglo-Saxon cemetery, metal detectors were used to make a final sweep of the site before it was shut down for the season. In a particularly waterlogged area an exposed cow’s femur emitted a signal to metal detectorist Kevin Woodward. Intrigued by this source, Kevin carefully examined the bone to find that it had been hollowed out and exposed within it was a gold coin. The bone was carefully lifted and subsequent forensic examination found it to contain a further 19 coins, all gold Gallo-Belgic E staters, minted during the early to mid 1st century BC in northern Gaul. In total 39 coins were recovered from the surrounding deposit. 

This hoard of coins was not the only Iron Age discovery of note to be found in the Boneyard/Reeddam area. Again, while excavating the Anglo-Saxon cemetery, a horse burial was discovered beneath the Anglo-Saxon burial layers, with a fully-articulated horse having been buried in a pit 0.5m in depth. Osteological analysis of the horse found it to be a stallion of eight years old, in good health and standing 13 hands high. A large section of the animal’s cranium was missing; the position of the missing bone, fracture lines and lack of post-trauma healing, suggesting that the injury was caused by a hard blow with a heavy-bladed instrument. The Boneyard/Reeddam site contained a number of other Iron Age features; pits and gullies and a couple of postholes. Four of these locations contained a number of broken part-pots; substantial parts of single vessels were found in individual deposits, inferring deliberate and careful placing of the vessels. 

In 2006, a trench was opened in the south-east corner of Chalkpit Field; a junction of four fields on the chalk downland south of Sedgeford. The site having been previously identified by fieldwalking and geophysical survey. The excavation uncovered a small number of Iron Age features – pits and two curving ditches (the larger of the two appearing to be an outer enclosure ditch) – representing a small farmstead on the site. The Iron Age farmstead appears to have suffered abandonment (as did many such sites in Norfolk) during the period following the Boudican Revolt around AD 60/61. 

£195

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Email: enquiries@sharp.org.uk

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