Norwich, Castle Mall

Norfolk Archaeological Unit, 2009

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Dr Liz Popescu
Post Excavations and Publications Manager
Oxford Archaeology (East)
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Tel: 01954 204193
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Norfolk Archaeological Unit (2009) Norwich, Castle Mall [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]


The Cemeteries

The physical remains of over 400 people were recorded at the Castle Mall site, falling into four main skeletal groups which range in date from Anglo-Saxon to post-medieval (Table 1; Fig_4.140). Of the excavated groups, a displaced cemetery beneath the later castle barbican unexpectedly yielded Middle Saxon radiocarbon dates (Cemetery 2). The group buried beneath later Farmer's Avenue (Cemetery 3) is important both because such burials are of a category infrequent in the archaeological record generally and because many of the graves lay undisturbed. This cemetery also formed a useful comparator with other urban and rural Late Saxon groups and provides new DNA evidence for genetic connections with the Northern Isles and/or Scandinavia. The burial group from the cemetery of St John at the Castle Gate (later de Berstrete/the Baptist, Timberhill; Cemeteries 1 and 4) provided the opportunity for comparison with the Farmer's Avenue cemetery, introducing a physical anthropological aspect to the analysis. At the time of the assessment, all of these burials were believed to be post-Conquest in date, although this interpretation was subsequently questioned by radiocarbon dating: at least two burials may date to the 7th century (Cemetery 1), while the remainder of those sampled indicate a statistically probable pre-Conquest date (although burial is known to have continued here much later). This cemetery proved particularly significant due to the high proportion of individuals who had suffered from leprosy found within it.

The small group of 17th-century prison burials from the Castle Mound (Cemetery 5) provided some interesting traumatic pathological features, providing insights into the treatment of prisoners during the post-medieval period.

Position in relation to castleCemetery numberModern locationBurial date rangeNo. adultsNo. sub-adults / childrenTotal no. individsAssociated church
barbican2 Middle Saxon (8th to 9th century)222143not known
south bailey3Farmer's AvenueLate Saxon6526106*not known
south-west of outer bailey1 & 4TimberhillMiddle and Late Saxon/ Norman14935265*St John at the Castle Gate (de Berstrete)
castle mound5castle mound17th century617 
Total   24283421 

Table 1: Skeletal Groups from the Castle Mall site
* figure includes disarticulated remains
Table excludes late medieval two infants from the barbican well