Monument record BNH 002 - Barnham Number 1 pit (Old pit) (and River Pit?); Barnham Heath (Palaeolithic).

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Cores, scrapers, hand-axes and worked flakes found in great number by Basil Brown and others in 1940's during visits to a working pit.


Grid reference Centred TL 885 799 (461m by 545m) (Centred on)
Map sheet TL87NE


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

1947-1955: Working lifespan of the pit, 'One of the richest assemblages of palaeoliths in East Anglia' according to Wymer. See details in (S7).

1946-1948: The site lies in the loop of the Little Ouse river on Barnham Heath. The pit was operated by Messrs Allen Newport Limited and Basil Brown first heard of finds in January 1946 and monitored the site until 1948.

He visited the pit whilst work was in process and all the Palaeolithic artefacts came from this pit at a depth of 16 to 20 feet when a chalk layer was uncovered and the excavator did not go any deeper. Most of the artefacts came from the South and South East faces of the pit while they were being excavated and watched by Brown but many others were retrieved from the conveyor belt by workmen, but as the faces were being continually destroyed grid reference locations cannot be given. The pit was closed in 1948 and re-opened in 1952-1953 and extended North to the river, although there is no record of any Palaeolithic material coming from this new area. The enlarging of the pit in 1952 also covered the area at Barnham BNH 018, where Basil Brown found Iron Age and Roman hut sites and pottery from 1946-1948.

During the original excavations the small tumulus excavated in 1913 (BNH 016) was pushed into the pit which must have extended at least to the edge of it and possibly beyond. The extent of the 1948 workings cannot be defined as Basil Brown's map and information held by SAU is not specific (S1).

Basil Brown reported finding cores, scrapers, hand-axes and worked flakes in great number from this pit including Chellian and Acheulian artefacts. He also found a mammoth tooth and mammoth bones (S1).

Further palaeoliths in BSEMH including exceptional example "B107" (S6).

2017: Fieldwork was undertaken to investigate the fluvial terraces of the Little Ouse and their associated archaeology - sections were cut into Barnham Old Pit and River Pit. Ground penetrating radar survey was conducted and the cutting of four new sections, two in each pit, and a test pit. See S8 for further details (S8).

Hi proportion of Levallois suggests a broad Early Middle Palaeolithic date. But handaxes and mixed/derived nature indiacte that it would be unwise to be this specific. Wymer (S7) notes that some of the more refined flake made handaxes could be later examples, (S11). These are sketched in Ipswich Museum accession books (1947-207) alongside a stratigraphic drawing, (S4).

Clactonian element noted in 1950, but not by later authors (S10).

Material in Moyes Hall Museum (West Stow?), Sedgewick and MAA, Cambridge, Pitt Rovers Museum, Oxford, Birmingham Museum and Ipswich Museum, (S7, S12).

See also Neolithic & Bronze Age records.

No further details found in Ipswich Museum Accession registers September 2020.

Sources/Archives (15)

  • <S1> Unpublished document: Basil Brown. Basil Brown Archive. Brown B, map 1, card index 26, 28; VIII, 122 - 128, 132; X, 109, 120 - 122, 125, 127, 128; LXVII, 84.
  • <S2> Unpublished document: Mowat, R.. 1976. SAU, Mowat R, Site report 1976. SAU, Mowat R, Site report 1976.
  • <S3> Index: OS. OS Card. OS, cards TL87NE5, TL88SE1,.
  • <S4> Index: Ipswich Museum. IPSMG card. IPSMG, cards 1946-136, 137; 1947-10, 66, 207; 1948-33, 34, 63, 265; 1951-275; 1952-2; 1976-134.
  • <S5> Source Unchecked: Plouviez J. SAU, Plouviez J, SMR card,. SAU, Plouviez J, SMR card,.
  • <S6> Source Unchecked: Moyses Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds.. BSEMH, 6 inch record map, XIII SE, A R Edwardson entry, undated. BSEMH, 6 inch record map, XIII SE, A R Edwardson entry, undated.
  • <S7> Bibliographic reference: Wymer, J.J.. 1985. Palaeolithic Sites of East Anglia. p123-7, ill.
  • <S8> Article in serial: Minter, F. and Saunders, A.. 2018. Archaeology in Suffolk 2017, Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History.
  • <S9> Unpublished document: Maynard, G.. 1950. RECENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL FIELD WORK . IN SUFFOLK.
  • <S10> Unpublished document: Basil Brown. Basil Brown Archive. Basil Brown archive : volumes, map, card index.
  • <S11> Personal Correspondence: Cutler, Hannah. 2019. Personal Observations as part of the Enhancement of the Suffolk HER for the Palaeolithic & Mesolithic Periods project.
  • <S12> Digital archive: Wymer, J.J.. 1999. The Lower Palaeolithic Occupation of Britain (TERPs) The Lower Palaeolithic Occupation of Britain (TERPS). 22661.
  • <S13> Unpublished document: Davis et al. 2017. The early Palaeolithic archaeology of the Breckland: current understanding and directions for future research.
  • <S14> E-mail: Davis, R.. 2020. List of Breckland Palaeolithic Project Fieldwork.
  • <S15> Digital archive: Historic England. National Record Of the Historic Environment.

Finds (10)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (4)

Record last edited

Mar 16 2021 11:53AM

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