Two medieval ovens found under former golf course

A circular, possibly medieval, oven was discovered by archaeologists in Fritton, near Gorleston-on-Sea. 

A circular, possibly medieval, oven was discovered by archaeologists in Fritton, near Gorleston-on-Sea. - Credit: CFA Archaeology

A pair of ovens which could date from the medieval period have been discovered under a former golf course and driving range near Gorleston. 

Archaeologists from the firm CFA Archaeology uncovered the ovens, also known as kilns, after digging 21 trenches on the grounds of Caldecott Hall Golf Course in Fritton.

One of the 21 trenches dug by archaeologists on the site. 

One of the 21 trenches dug by archaeologists on the site. - Credit: CFA Archaeology

They had been commissioned to do so by agent Lanpro Services on behalf of Tingdene Holiday Parks Ltd, which has received planning permission to build 157 static holiday caravans on the site. 

A condition of the permission, however, was that development must wait until a programme of archaeological work had been carried out. 

According to a report published by CFA Archaeology, the larger oven was a circular clay structure and would probably have had a domed roof.


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“The smaller structure was less than one metre from the large one and was of simpler construction," it adds, before saying it could either be a second oven or a raised hearth with an open top which could have held a large pot or cauldron.

An irregular hearth was also uncovered, and is possibly of medieval origin too. 

An irregular hearth was also uncovered, and is possibly of medieval origin too. - Credit: CFA Archaeology

Samples taken from within the ovens found small quantities of charred grain. 

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The report, published on Great Yarmouth Borough Council's website, says: “Since cereal would have been ground into flour before arriving at the bakery, these grains are a bit of a mystery.

“They may have been thrown into the oven to test the temperature or else used to prevent loaves from sticking while they were cooking.”

The grain still provides a clue to the oven’s original era. 

“The profusion of charred oats indicates a medieval (14th century) or later date," it said.

It says the site's use could have been linked to the growing population of the area at the time and the subsequent food pressures.

The area may have been part of the nearby manor at Caldecott, at a time when "the climate was hampering crop yield".

The circular oven (left) and an irregular hearth (right) were uncovered by archaeologists in Fritton, near Gorleston-on-Sea. 

The circular oven (left) and an irregular hearth (right) were uncovered by archaeologists in Fritton, near Gorleston-on-Sea. - Credit: CFA Archaeology

As potential fire hazards, bakehouses or ovens may have been located a distance from the main buildings for safety.


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