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St Benet's Lidar Images


Timbo

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Here's one I think Vaughan may be interested in. This is a LIDAR or Light Detection and Ranging image of St.Benets Abbey. Same principle as RADAR except a laser is used. It's used by a wide number of disciplines, but in archaeology it's cheaper than paying the bar tab for the geophys guys. LIDAR effectively removes the vegetation from the landscape and gives us a picture of what is under the ground as height information. Here you can clearly see the height of Cow Island...but you can also see the depth of the medieval field system. Looking at this new data with my new software I'm inclined to think the curvilinear feature at the altar end of the nave is actually the 'natural'. It may not be too clear on this image as I have had to convert it from a 16bit tiff to a JPG and all the inherent noise problems that go along with that process, to post it on the thread. But my new software throws up multitudes of new angles to interpret.

I'm currently processing the data from some very deep ditches at Horning that look pre Roman. I will post once the computer has done its work.

StBenetsLidar.jpg

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Thank you Timbo, very interesting. Having lived at Ludham I have always known that there is some fascinating history attached to this area.

My eye is not trained to these things, so the obvious first question is, what are all the black bits? I thought at first they might be beer cans and bean tins, thrown in the river over all the years.

What interests me, as a wherryman, is that you can still very clearly see the original course of the Bure, in a big loop southwards. The straight river that goes past what we now call the abbey ruins was dug out by the wherrymen, in chest waders, as a canal to avoid the big loop in the river. This is why nowadays you see some of the ruins sticking out of the bank into the "river". When the abbey was built, the river wasn't there.

At the top centre, heading north west, is what looks to me like the causeway that used to connect the abbey by land to Horning? Remembering that what we call Ant Mouth was not the mouth of the Ant in those days. The original Ant followed the "hundred stream" from south of Ludham Bridge and came out on the Thurne at Cold Harbour Farm, just south of Womack. This is all part of what I mean when I say the Broads are man-made.

Thanks for the info.

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1 hour ago, Vaughan said:

Thank you Timbo, very interesting. Having lived at Ludham I have always known that there is some fascinating history attached to this area.

My eye is not trained to these things, so the obvious first question is, what are all the black bits? I thought at first they might be beer cans and bean tins, thrown in the river over all the years.

What interests me, as a wherryman, is that you can still very clearly see the original course of the Bure, in a big loop southwards. The straight river that goes past what we now call the abbey ruins was dug out by the wherrymen, in chest waders, as a canal to avoid the big loop in the river. This is why nowadays you see some of the ruins sticking out of the bank into the "river". When the abbey was built, the river wasn't there.

At the top centre, heading north west, is what looks to me like the causeway that used to connect the abbey by land to Horning? Remembering that what we call Ant Mouth was not the mouth of the Ant in those days. The original Ant followed the "hundred stream" from south of Ludham Bridge and came out on the Thurne at Cold Harbour Farm, just south of Womack. This is all part of what I mean when I say the Broads are man-made.

Thanks for the info.

Thought you might be interested Vaughan. The large black areas are 'deep' areas where the laser has penetrated but not returned. So in the river areas it came as a surprise to me as I thought the entrance to Fleet Dyke would be deeper through boat traffic. It also shows how 'deep' the original course of the river still is.

As an archaeologist there are two features that interest me. I've circled them on the image below. Figure A is a feature that shows as a perfectly square deep hole in the data. So what the hell is it? Figure B appears to be a track leading from the curve of the river back towards the village. Possibly a second quay heading for unloading or loading of goods or a ferry perhaps? 

StBenetsLidarA.jpg

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Yes, good question.

At first I thought this would be the obvious place for a public staithe, on the bank of the old main river, but then there is no habitation nearby. Then I thought of a landing stage for the reed harvest, but these are all ancient water meadows.

So I think this was probably a cattle swim, of which there were many on the Broads in those days. The same landowner probably owned land on both sides of the river, and needed a place to cross over. The exit may have been a few hundred yards up or downstream.

I have pretty well proved that what is called the Horsewater in Thorpe, was in fact a cattle swim, going over onto the island, which was all part of the Crown Point estate before they built the railway.

As to area A, maybe a well? It's not far from the abbey and they would not have had to cross a river in those days.

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Timbo, your posts have set me thinking (again).

Now that I know what the black bits are, they are exactly where I would expect to find them, on a meandering river. On the outside of a wide bend, and on both sides where the curve reverses. It doesn't surprise me to see that this is the course I would sail a wherry on, if I didn't know the river beforehand. The top of Fleet Dyke  appears more shallow, as it is a straight stretch, or "reach", so less erosion. The new main river is a lot deeper as it has been dredged. Even so, the theory holds true.

South of the Bure has now been radically changed by high flood banks and deep-dyke drainage (quelle horreure) but the north bank is much as it always was, with the dyke drainage going across St Benets Level to the east, where it was pumped by St Benets Level Mill, opposite Thurne Dyke. It still is now, but by electric pumps.

Something I have not noticed before until seeing your photos, is the course of what is obviously an important drainage dyke that goes around the north of the old abbey grounds and then comes back south. Look at the whole of your picture, and does this not seem like the normal serpentine course of a meandering river? Could this actually have also been the original course of the Bure, before the abbey was built?

 

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I think we do have a track here Robin and I think I know where it's leading to. What it's leading to is another question. Main problem is that there is a big hole in the data set. We have the 2m data but not the more detailed 1m set. So if you compare the following images. I've marked the route of the trackway for arguments sake to the left of the white line. We then lose the track but pick it up again, once again to the left of the white line. I can then only assume that the track runs into the existing roadway...but the direction of the track runs directly towards a rectilinear feature bisected by the modern field system which I've marked at the bottom of the image.

Track.jpg

Rectilinear.jpg

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OK Timbo, serious thought now. If you presume the track leads to that rectangular feature, it's not far from the actual broad as we see it today. Could it have been a peat store, to take the original peat supposedly dug out which then formed the broad?

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12 hours ago, Regulo said:

OK Timbo, serious thought now. If you presume the track leads to that rectangular feature, it's not far from the actual broad as we see it today. Could it have been a peat store, to take the original peat supposedly dug out which then formed the broad?

I think Ray might have the best idea...the peat store that is.

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This is fascinating:love, I have used this stuff to help in charting shoal waters but not in chasing land features before.

Do you really think it is some form of peat store? I know it is only a few hundred metres from the edge of the diggings (Broad) but, from what I remember seeing of peat diggings, the drying stacks are/were usually right next to the dig point and, I presume, that the users would then have transported the peat to their settlement for storage and use.

Looking at it, I wonder whether the rectilinear feature is not part of a settlement on the higher ground where Pilson Green is. Could it be the origin of Town House Farm? It is, after all, just the other side of the road! The trackway could be a connecting route out to the north across the marshes linking that settlement with the Horning area and the Abbey. By my reckoning, it would join the Abbey causeway somewhere between where that feature is now cut by the Ant at Ant Mouth and Horning Hall. Given the previous discussion about the meandering of the Bure and the Ant running along the Hundred Dyke, this seems logical to me as a route to join the high ground of what are now the Horning and South Walsham parishes.

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Timbo,

Thinking about your point A, might it not just be a deep spot? It is, after all, the junction of several ditches. We get distracted by the ease with which machinery can now clear such features but it is a different case when doing so by hand! If it was me trying to keep these clear, that junction would be a likely starting point for each run of the smaller ditches heading out into the marsh.

I'm not a local and am more used to moorland areas where holding boundaries tend to be formed of stones and, in later times, walls. However, logic dictates that the easiest way of delineating holding boundaries in marsh areas is by use of ditches. Could the big ditch with the deep spot be such a boundary? And possibly the same for the other big one (just below the A "circle" in your original image) heading just south of west.

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10 hours ago, Polly said:

Thanks Tim, this is fascinating! I wondered what the horseshoe feature near the boundary east of the high altar could have been?

I'll start with the one I have an answer for first...

The three large rectilinear features I believe are more fish ponds or ponds of some description.

ponds.jpg

Size and depth are similar to the fish ponds in the north west corner.

12 hours ago, johnm said:

This is fascinating:love, I have used this stuff to help in charting shoal waters but not in chasing land features before.

Do you really think it is some form of peat store? I know it is only a few hundred metres from the edge of the diggings (Broad) but, from what I remember seeing of peat diggings, the drying stacks are/were usually right next to the dig point and, I presume, that the users would then have transported the peat to their settlement for storage and use.

Looking at it, I wonder whether the rectilinear feature is not part of a settlement on the higher ground where Pilson Green is. Could it be the origin of Town House Farm? It is, after all, just the other side of the road! The trackway could be a connecting route out to the north across the marshes linking that settlement with the Horning area and the Abbey. By my reckoning, it would join the Abbey causeway somewhere between where that feature is now cut by the Ant at Ant Mouth and Horning Hall. Given the previous discussion about the meandering of the Bure and the Ant running along the Hundred Dyke, this seems logical to me as a route to join the high ground of what are now the Horning and South Walsham parishes.

My gut reaction John is that it's a very large platform for a structure...but as I'm an old archaeologist not one of the Time Team era I'm going give the catch all 'I don't know' answer.However I've spent the last few hours trawling through the Record of Antiquities and can confirm that the 'trackway' has been recorded as being an 'undated' feature. Now here are the possibilities given by the archaeology team at Norfolk County Council. A trackway (see my post on Geldeston in the archaeology section here), a water course or an outlet for an unidentified windpump. 

Now I feel that the windpump is very plausible. But before we give groans of disappointment there are two more pertinent records which I think may be linked to our 'track'. The first independent record is in the next field to our trackway. Curvilinear earthworks and drainage ditches have been recorded as a monument but not mapped. I've taken some 1m LIDAR information so we can see the detail. On the left of the image below I've copied the record location map. I've marked out trackway on the bottom left of the record image. On the right is the LIDAR information. I've marked the curvilinear earthworks with a dotted white line. You should see the archaeology just below this line. The second independent record is for the discovery of a Saxon spear dredged from the Bure.

Lidarupdate1.jpg

Now then...what about the yellow dots? I have a sneaking suspicion that the LIDAR is showing us the reemergence of our trackway again! Now linking the three together means...I've got more digging through records to do!

I will add that in this area there are large amounts of Roman finds Vaughan...I say Romans Vaughan!:naughty:

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8 minutes ago, MauriceMynah said:

Would the yellow dots not have frightened the cows? They're very nervous animals you know.

I believe they were of a traditional breed of nocturnal cow often seen in Norfolk and indeed in this very area. Well...I say seen but more usually 'heard' or is that 'herd'. I've often moored up Fleet Dyke and sometime after pub closing you will hear the drover's call of 'Just get on the boat you silly cow'.

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