Monument record ELV 039 - Elveden Rabbit Warren

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Documentary evidence indicates that the rabbit warren at Elveden was established by 1618, at which stage it was divided into ‘Upper’ and ‘Nether’ warrens. A possible medieval origin for the warren is suggested by documentary evidence, and the fact that the parish boundary follows its western and northern sides. The earthwork remains of boundary banks, and internal dividing banks, enclosures and mounds, have been identified through field survey and on aerial photographs and lidar imagery. Many of the earthworks are visible on recent sources, or have been identified through recent ground survey, and it is likely that they still survive.


Grid reference Centred TL 802 817 (2307m by 1768m) (Centred on)
Map sheet TL88SW


Type and Period (22)

Full Description

`Elvedon Rabbit Warren' or `Elveden Lower Warren' bank as defined on OS 1st edition map of 1836 (S1) and tithe maps (S2). Within pine plantations, survival unknown. W boundary formed by Wangford Warren banks, WNG 025, N boundary by Brandon Warren.

The `Old Bank' (ELV 038) marked on the Tithe Map lies within the area of these banks & may be an earlier warren boundary.

Note that Gransden, in discussion of the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds rabbit industry, states 'The Mildenhall accounts for the year from 17 Oct 1247 to 11 Oct 1248 include Elveden … included amoung Elveden's receipts is a record of 9s 6d from 'Breckland warren' ('War' Brekelnd) (S5)(R1).

Parish boundary alignments may also suggest Medieval date.

1801/2: 'Elden Warren' and 'Elden Lodge' are shown on a plan by John Griffin (1801)(R1).

The track created by the parallel boundary banks of Lakenheath and Wangford warren was part of the route from Lakenheath to Elveden and was used as a droveway to take sheep to the lamb sales at Elveden (S4).

2010: The Breckland Society survey The Warrens of Breckland identified banks and enclosures relating to Elveden Warren. Perimeter banks survive along western and northern (ELV 024) boundaries and are marked by a line of gorse along the eastern boundary. The southern edge is now the boundary of Center Parcs holiday village. There is a low mound close to Spinks Lodge (ELV 035) and two small mounds, but there is no evidence that these mounds were linked to the warren. The earliest documentary evidence of the warren is in 1618 Lease which notes that it was divided into Upper and Nether Warrens. In 1701 the lease for Elveden states that "tenant at his own cost to bank all along the Thetford Warren side to the west end of the said borders so far in breadth from Downham Warren as have been formerly meeted parted and dolled out…to the intended new bank fifty roods and no further" (S3).

2017: Double banks were recorded on the northern boundary of the warren (perimeter banks survive along the western and northern boundaries and are marked by a line of gorse along the eastern boundary). At TL940820 one of three parallel banks joins the middle one to make a funnel. AT TL791817 there are four banks, but their subsequent line and layout were difficult to discern in the dense covering of bracken (S4).

Also contains 'Elveden (Spinks) Lodge' (ELV 035) and further banks, ELV 037, ELV 050.
For small rectangular enclosure within NE corner see ELV 040 & for large enclosure (Upper Warren, as opposed to Lower Warren, see ELV 036).

January 2019. 'Brecks from Above' and Breckland National Mapping Programme.
The whole of Elveden Warren was covered by the survey. The earthwork remains of boundary banks, and internal dividing banks, enclosures and mounds (see above and SHER ELV 130), were identified on aerial photographs and lidar imagery (S6-S9). Boundary banks – assumed to demarcate the limits of the warren – were mapped along the western, northern and eastern side of the warren, and along the southern boundary for a short distance from its southeast corner. The boundary around the southeast corner of the warren is somewhat confused, with several boundaries and areas of ridging (possibly for growing crops or establishing plantations) evident. The bank (in places banks) along the eastern side may follow the same line as that ‘marked by a line of gorse’ described above. Along the northern and western side, multiple boundaries were evident. Here the warren lay immediately adjacent to other warrens (Brandon, SHER BRD 082, and Wangford, SHER 025). In these cases, in the absence of detailed documentary or map evidence, the assignment of any particular banks mapped by the project to a specific warren is to a large extent notional, and they might equally be recorded as part of the adjacent warren. Part of the northern boundary had been recorded previously as SHER ELV 024.
Within the warren, a variety of internal divisions, trackways, enclosures and mounds was recorded. Some of these had been recorded by earlier surveys, while others are new to the record; some are recorded individually, others not; some are depicted on historical maps (for example, as described above). Most are thought to relate to or be contemporary with the functioning of the warren. Some could relate to other activities that took place alongside the rearing of rabbits, such as grazing livestock, arable agriculture or forestry. One notable feature are the low, slightly sinuous banks crossing the warren northeast to southwest. These appear to continue beyond the eastern limit of the warren and into Downham High Warren to the northeast (where they are recorded as part of SHER STN 185). The question of whether these pre-date the establishment of the warren – or at least the establishment of its boundaries – and what function they served warrants further investigation.
Many of the earthworks are visible on recent sources, or have been identified through recent ground survey (described above) and it is likely that most still survive
S. Tremlett (Norfolk Historic Environment Service), 18th January 2019.

Sources/Archives (10)

  • <S1> (No record type): OS, 1st ed one inch map, 1836.
  • <R1> Source Checked: Suffolk Record Office. SRO(B), Q/SH/28, Feb 1802.
  • <S2> Map: 1850. Elveden Tithe Map. Elveden Tithe Map, 1850, SRO (Bury).
  • <S3> Bibliographic reference: The Breckland Society. 2010. The Warrens of Breckland: A Survey by The Breckland Society. p. 20 and p. 42.
  • <S4> Unpublished document: Mason, A.. 2009. The Archaeology of the Warrens of Thetford Forest. p. 7.
  • <S5> Unpublished document: The Breckland Society. 2017. The Internal Archaeology of the Breckland Warrens. p.19.
  • <S6> Oblique Aerial Photograph: Oblique aerial photograph. CCC 8605/1553 13-JUL-1923 (HEA Laser Copy).
  • <S7> Vertical Aerial Photograph: Vertical aerial photograph. RAF/3G/TUD/UK/59 V 5394-7 05-FEB-1946 (HEA Original Print).
  • <S8> LIDAR Airborne Survey: LIDAR airborne survey. LIDAR Thetford Forest Research 0.5m DTM 17-JUL-2015 (BNG Project, FC England, Fugro Geospatial).
  • <S9> LIDAR Airborne Survey: LIDAR airborne survey. LIDAR Wangford Forest Research 0.5m DTM 17-JUL-2015 (BNG Project, FC England, Fugro Geospatial).

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (7)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Oct 16 2019 2:37PM

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