Settlement and Temple Or Shrine
Iron-Age settlement which grew at the major river crossing at the confluence of the River Thet with the Little Ouse River. Fired clay moulds for the production of coins in an early Roman context were found here and also at Needham to the east. Two other sites at Saham Toney in the north and West Stow in the south both had evidence of pre-Roman coin production. A Roman fort was built a little way to the north overlooking the settlement at Saham Toney, in the immediate aftermath of the Icenian war of 47AD.
The garrison of the Saham Toney fort did not interfere with the rebuilding of a major religious and ceremonial site at Thetford, 16 km to the south. In the 50’s AD a grandiose rectangular enclosure of 32,000 square metres was constructed there. Inside an outer perimeter ditch was another ditched rectangular enclosure; the 35 metre gap between both ditches was filled with a series of nine parallel fences. Both ditches had corresponding inner ramparts. Access was through a single entrance, central on the east side of the enclosure. It was a straight corridor that ran between stout wooden fences of upright posts leading into an inner enclosure some 80 metres wide and 140 metres long. There was a massive timber gateway where the entrance joined the inner enclosure. Anyone entering the inner precinct would be faced by a largely empty arena, to the rear of which stood a two-storeyed building which the complex had inherited from a previous enclosure on the same spot.” (Sealey, p.12)
The open layout of the inner enclosure would have been well suited to public assembly, whether for secular or religious purposes. Forty-seven brooches found on the site presumably represent accidental losses from the clothing of the people who congregated there. Thetford may well have been the scene of a tribal meeting that decided to follow Boudica in her crusade against the Romans in 60AD.
Map References for Thetford
NGRef: TL8783 OSMap: LR144