T.R.E. in the time of Edward the Confessor
T.R.W. in the time of William the Conqueror
- St. Olave. No. 21 is the same dedication, which is
to a Scandinavian king martyred in 1030; this fact, and the extreme
positions of the two churches suggest their foundation was part of the
borough expansion close to the Conquest. The dedications suggest that Danish
influence in the town was still important shortly before the Conquest.
- St. Sepulchre. Although it has been claimed that this
dedication is post-Conquest, Domesday mentions the church T.R.W. but in a
fashion as to imply its existence T.R.E. There is structural evidence
for a pre-1100 origin, and finds of Late Saxon pottery are associated with
the site. Its position with regard to Berstrete (most churches gathered
around Southgate) makes it doubtful whether it existed at the time of the
creation of the burh.
- St. Edward. The dedication is most probably to the
king murdered in 978, who had become considered a martyr by the end of
the century. This and the church's position suggest it the product of
- St. Etheldreda.
The dedication, to an East Anglian queen who became a nun c.679,
together with pottery found in the area indicate an early settlement here,
perhaps 8th century. The church's round tower may be Norman, however.
- St. Clement. Generally accepted as pre-Conquest on
the grounds of its dedication (to the pope-martyr c.100), although this
seems a weak argument. However, its position on the principal road
through Conesford bolsters the possibility, and late Saxon pottery has
been found near the site.
- St. Julian. Again, the dedication is usually cited
as proof, although it is uncertain whether the 3rd century figure or the
9th century St. Julian Hospitaller is intended. Late Saxon pottery has
been found in the vicinity. The round tower could be Saxon, although
it might equally be Norman (as is that of St. Benedict's).
- St. Vedast. The dedication places a lower limit of
539. The presence of a pre-Conquest carved stone, late Saxon pottery
and metalwork finds, point to a pre-1066 origin. The dedication was
originally to Vedast and Amand, who were both Fleming saints, suggesting
a Flemish community may have been resident. May have bbeen mentioned in
Domesday as the (unnamed) church partly owned by Edstan.
- St. Mary in the Marsh. The name indicates an origin
in a time when the site was still marshy (although this does not necessarily
exclude the post-Conquest period). The church may very well be that
mentioned in the will of Sifflaed (c.990/1066). Dugdale's Monasticon
claims a pre-Conquest origin for the church on the basis of a reference in
the cathedral register. An eighteenth-century plan depicts what appears to
be a church with a roud tower.
- St. Ethelbert. The dedication, to the East Anglian
king executed by Offa in 794, suggests an origin prior to the Danish
settlement. Late Saxon pottery has been found in the vicinity of St.
Ethelbert and St. Mary.
- St. Michael. Mentioned in Domesday for
T.R.E. An important church, in that it held much land and was sited on Tombland.
Its successor's qualifier "de Motestow"
(later modernized to "at-Plea") links the dedication with the site of early
government of the community, the folkmoot,
for which Tombland was a logical meeting-place. There may be significance
in the church having being held by Stigand, former bishop of East Anglia.
It is not implausible that the original St. Michael may also have been
known as de Motestow.
- Church of the Holy Trinity. This was demolished
at the building of the cathedral, which took over the dedication. Its
site was once thought to lie under the east end of the cathedral,
but are now associated with remains east of the bishop's palace. It is
mentioned in Domesday T.R.E., and may have been the Christ Church mentioned
in Sifflaed's will. Its position on Holmstrete suggests antiquity and
- St. Martin at Palace. Mentioned in Domesday, T.R.E.
Saxon finds in the vicinity from all periods. "At Palace", however, surely
refers to the bishop's palace, not that posited for the pre-Conquest earl.
- St. Simon and St. Jude. Mentioned in Domesday, T.R.E.,
when held by the bishop.
- St. Andrew. Little is heard of this church. Its
position would suggest an early origin, and (not surprisingly) late
Saxon pottery has been found in that vicinity. Dedications to this saint
were popular in the Anglo-Saxon period (e.g. Rochester cathedral, Hexham
- St. John de Maddermarket. The date of origin of this
church is uncertain. Hudson thought it an Anglo-Saxon foundation, but
probably on the basis of Francis Blomefield's unlikely identification of
it with Domesday's church of the Holy Trinity. However, its position
again persuades me to a tentative inclusion on this map. Madder was a
source of dye, so the maddermarket was the dyers market.
- St. Gregory. There is structural evidence for an
Anglo-Saxon origin, and Late Saxon pottery has been found in the area.
Archaeologist Alan Carter suspected it to have been the focus of a
Middle Saxon settlement.
- St. Lawrence.
Mentioned in Domesday, T.R.E., but does not appear to have been built by
c.1035/1038, when its site is mentioned in the will of Bishop Aelfric.
- St. Swithun.
The dedication, to a missionary (later bishop) associated with Winchester,
but also popular with the Norse, sets a lower limit of 863. Its
position, within an area of Middle and Late Saxon finds, and lying
just within an early boundary formed by a stream, suggests a possible
late ninth or early tenth century foundation.
- St. Martin at Oak. An early origin is indicated
by its position just inside the burh ditch (as if the ditch's path
was dictated by the need to include the church in its protection) and
by Late Saxon pottery finds nearby. Carter considered it the likely
focus of Coslanye, following the transferral of the settlement southwards
from the Eade Road cemetery.
- St. Mary Coslany.
There is structural evidence for a pre-1100 date, and it has been generally
held that the tower is Anglo-Saxon (although not all agree).
- St. Olave. See no.1.
- St. Botulph. The dedication, a popular one in East
Anglia, is to an abbot who introduced the Benedictine Rule into the area,
c.700. This dedication was frequently given to churches standing at
settlement entrances )several, for example, are found at London).
Unlike its neighbour, St. Olave's, it was included
within the area encompassed by the burh ditch.
- All Saints. The dedication is to a festival which
had its origins in 731. A church of this name is mentioned in Domesday
in a way that implies pre-Conquest existence. Of the two medieval
churches of that name, the position of this one, on Fybriggate/Cowgate
and within the burh, suggest it as that of Domesday.
- St. Clement. An early origin is suggested by the
what was often an Anglo-Saxon dedication and the location of the church
next to the Fye Bridge crossing. On the other hand, dedications to
St. Clement (the patron saint of sailors) were popular in Scandinavia,
and so this foundation could reflect Danish settlement. Churches of
this dedication were elsewhere found near crossing points of rivers.
St. Clement's may indeed have been the primary church of the
north bank settlement, for it was later subdivided into smaller parishes.
- St. Edmund. The dedication is to the East Anglian
king executed by the Danes in 870. Domesday mentions the church T.R.E.
but it may have originated as a private Saxon church, for its living was
still in secular hands in the fourteenth century.
- (not shown on map) The foundations of a church of unknown dedication
were discovered in 1979 on the site that was cleared to make way for
the Norman castle; a large Anglo-Saxon cemetery was excavated nearby.
The Earl's Palace
Tombland would be the logical spot for such.
The earliest reference to this that I have come across is a city document
relating to the foundation of the cathedral, but itself dating no
later than 1297. Even this refers to it as the palace of Roger Bigot,
earl at the time of the cathedral foundation, and gives only an
approximate location on Tombland. The cathedral register itself makes
no reference to a palace in its account of its foundation. However, there
was evidently a local tradition to this effect, accepted by Norwich
historians such as Blomefield and Hudson.
It is not implausible that the ealdorman/earl of Anglo-Saxon times
had a residence in the chief town of East Anglia;
St. Benedict's Gates
An area on either side of which was the later site of St. Benedict's
Gates, perhaps extending north to the later Heigham Gate (a lesser gate,
near the south bank of the river), appears to have been one of the
earliest foci of settlement, preceding Westwyk; archaeology has
found here locally-made Ipswich ware
and imported pottery dating from the 9th century. Perhaps this was the
precursor from which Westwyk developed after an influx of Danish settlers
on the eastern side (i.e. in the gap between the St. Benedict's Gates
settlement and Conesford).
The name means "boundary wood" or possibly "wood by the marsh". Hudson
thought this referred to the point to which marshland extended in early
Saxon times, but it may possibly relate to the extent of the settlement
north of the river, as later defined by the burh fortification.
Alternatively it might be a reference to the extent of the hundred of
The word "cockey" is of Saxon derivation, meaning simply a watercourse. Some
were later called "fleets". The Great Cockey was the largest of these
various streams (only a few of which are shown on my map), penetrating
farther into the city than the others, and is freqently mentioned as a
boundary in property deeds. For much of the Saxon period it was probably
fairly wide and marshy, perhaps acting as a separator between Westwyk
and Conesford, although most settlement seems to have lain to the west
of the Cockey valley. This stream may have served as an official boundary
of Saxon Norwich, its southern end probably connecting to a man-made ditch
running east-west (of which a portion has been discovered by archaeologists
between Berstrete and Southgate) which likely represents the southern
boundary, although not precluding some further roadside settlement further
south, which could be considered, in essence, suburban.
As the meeting-point of two major roads, the possible meeting-place
(folkmoot) of the community, with at least one important church (St.
Michael de Motestow) and the (hypothetical) "Earl's palace" on its
outskirts, Tombland is generally assumed to have been the centre of the
Anglo-Saxon town and given that the land remained largely unbuilt
on perhaps the marketplace.
Possibly part of the land may have had an association with St. Michael,
although "tomb" does not refer to a burial-ground but means "vacant".
However, Tombland was not the property of the community but of one of
the town's lords; and it was the earl who gave it to the Bishop to expand
the developing cathedral-priory precint. The Bishop pulled down church and
palace; and the monks thereafter claimed rights on Tombland which became
a source of dispute between them and the citizens.
The "street" termination suggests an early and possibly Roman origin,
by contrast with the "gate" termination which was Danish. The name refers
to the Cowholm the riverside meadow used as pasturage through
which the road ran to reach a ford across the river (later the site of
Bishop's Bridge). The last section of
the road before the ford must have been a causeway raised above the
marshy terrain, and there is some slight archaeological evidence for this.
The section immediately east of Tombland was later supplanted by
the cathedral precinct, and the road
diverted north of that; the section further east, however, retained the
name Holmstrete during part of the Middle Ages. Despite the diversion,
Holmstrete continued to serve as the main route out of the city towards
more easterly regions.
The "street" termination suggests an early and possibly Roman origin,
by contrast with the "gate" termination which was Danish. That this road
was atop a ridge equally suggests its origin at a time when lower ground, to
the east, was marshy and impassable. It is possible that in Roman times,
before settlement, marketplace or ford drew travellers north-eastwards
towards Tombland, that the road may have continued in a north-westerly
direction, and (after fording the river) headed out of the area by a
western path skirting the river. The northern end was subsequently
covered by the Norman castle fee; in the late 18th century, workmen sinking
a well in the castle grounds were said to have come across the site of
this part of the road. This was primarily a road into the city; the lack
of early churches along its route suggests it was not heavily settled in
Saxon times. The name has led to speculation of burh defences surrounding
Conesford, and an east-west ditch crossing Berstrete at about the
same distance from the river as the east-west stretch of the northern burh
defences was found in 2000, but it does not appear to have had a
The southern stretch of what was known as Conesford Street, or Upper
Conesford Street, for much of the post-Conquest period was also called
Southgate (while the northern stretch had the alias of Parmentergate).
Settlement in the late Saxon period lay along Conesford Street and between
Southgate and Berstrete. Southgate probably represents an area of
riverfront settlement providing quayage for boats without them having
to travel further upriver to Fybridge. It has been debated how heavily
this southern part of the city was occupied before the Conquest. However,
the fact that the new Norman settlement was located west of the castle,
rather than south of it along the riverside, may itself indicate there
was insufficient unoccupied land along Southgate.
These secondary roads evidence a spread of population between Southgate
and Berstrete. Bearing in mind that this was a steep slope, down which
rainwater would have rushed, the antiquarian Kirkpatrick interpreted
"Holgate" as meaning a hollow route created by erosion from rainwater. This
is supported by the fact that Skeythgate was on occasion referred to as a
cava via ("hollowed-out route"); its name may derive from a Saxon
term referring to a steep descent.
St. Faith's Lane
The road leading to St. Vedast's (gradually corrupted into St. Faith's)
was also known as Lower Conesford Street.
Likely represents a line of later expansion of settlement upslope from
the main road (to its north) running through Westwyk, perhaps not
occurring until the end of the Saxon period. Westwyk Street's
early origin is itself indicated by the clustering of churches; the
western end of the street later split (see map
for ca.1260), as land was reclaimed from the marsh, with a fork
(Lower Westwyk) running close to the river's edge. The name Pottergate
reflects the early industry of pottery-making that archaeology has
evidenced in Westwyk. However, the earliest pottery remains found
there are from the late Saxon period. The road probably stretched
west only as far as a cockey (a source of water being important to
potters); when the city wall was built, no gate was created for
Pottergate, so it may still not have extended as far as the wall then.
This road represents an even later phase of expansion, as settlement
continued to spread south. It likely pre-dated the introduction of the
castle (the later line of the road being clearly diverted around the fee)
and Mancroft, where archaeology has recently shown that Norman settlement
was preceded by Late Saxon and just possibly Norse settlement; after
the foundation of Mancroft, the western part of the road was known as
Lower Newport, while the section between Mancroft and the castle was
called Hosyergate. Based on the line of Lower Newport, it seems that
Hosyergate would not have extended as far as the line of the later city
walls, but only as far as one of the cockeys, which perhaps represented
an earlier boundary line. After that cockey, Lower Newport diverts south
to meet Upper Newport, the road on the southern boundary of Mancroft,
which is unlikely to have existed until after Mancroft was created.
The introduction of Mancroft and the castle having significantly
disrupted the topography of the Anglo-Saxon town, the application of
Hosyergate to the entire stretch of this east-west route is only
hypothesis, based on the "gate" termination suggesting some antiquity
(in contrast to other names assigned to portions of the street in the
later Middle Ages, which are all clearly post-Conquest).
The fact that this road alone incorporates "bridge" (other than the later
connecting road of Neubriggate, running over what was evidently an
additional, or "new", bridge), indicates that the Fye Bridge was the first
to be built across the Norwich stretch of the Wensum. The earliest documentary
reference to it is in 1141. Whether a bridge existed pre-Conquest or was
simply preceded by a ford or wooden causeway, is less certain. Fye Bridge
remained wooden until the early fifteenth century.
The line of the burh defences, suggested by archaeological evidence, along
with the "gate" termination, argues for the existence of these roads in the
late Saxon period. However archaeology has suggested the north-south
stretch was a post-Conquest continuation, leading to speculation that
the eastern circuit of the burh may instead have paralleled the east
side of the watercourse just west of Cowgate. Nonetheless, the line
of Cowgate is strongly suggestive of it following a perimeter, and we would
expect this route to post-date the bank/ditch. It was common for there to
be access routes around the inner edge of the defensive perimeter of the
burh, beginning as pathways and developing into a more formal route in
a later period when settlement expanded. Archaeological evidence
for a cluster of habitation around the southern end of Cowgate and St.
Edmund's and around St. Martin's in north-east Conesford argue for a
linkage via a second river crossing on the future site of Whitefriars
Bridge (and again, the line of the burh defences encourages the notion of
protecting two river crossings).
The "gate" termination betokens a pre-Conquest date (although we cannot
rule out the possibility of the Danish naming protocol having survived
the Conquest for a period). The two roads represent riverside
settlement. However, they did not quite meet up, St. Clement's and its
surrounding land interposing between them. They cannot be seen as a
single development, but two areas of separate development, each joining
up with Fybriggate. It would be reasonable to associate the name
Fishergate with the quayside where fishing-boats would have docked; a
logical place for the fishermen to live. This was probably one of the more
built-up residential streets north of the river. One possible derivation
of the name Colgate is from an Anglo-Saxon term for lake (see below re.
Named after the Muspol, a small lake fed by a cockey. Hudson suspected that
at an early time the north-south route at the western edge of Coslanye
(itself named Coslanye Street) may have met up with Colgate only via
Muspolgate, because of the extreme marshiness of the ground in the bend of
the river, of which Muspol represented a shrunken survival. I do not
myself subscribe to this theory; it would have been more logical for the
line of Muspolgate to have continued east or south-east to Snailgate rather
than swing directly south again. Muspolgate has more the appearance,
from later topography, of a secondary route from the rear of St. Mary's;
its junction with Colegate was later diverted when St. George's church
was built there.