Monument record SEC 001 - South Elmham Minster (Med)

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South Elmham Minister. Standing remains of flint rubble building thought to be C10 or later. Scheduled


Grid reference Centred TM 307 826 (179m by 186m)
Map sheet TM38SW


Type and Period (2)

Full Description

South Elmham Minister. Standing remains of flint rubble building, 25m long x 10.5m wide (original length of building 30.5m). Walls up to 3.5m high and 90cm thick. The building is aligned approximately east-west and is presumed to be a church. It consists of an eastern apse (not visible above ground), a nave and a western narthex or tower base. The ruin lies within a rectangular enclosure with surviving bank and ditch. There are entrances in the north and south sides (S1)(S2)(S3).
The site has been claimed as a C7 Saxon minster, the seat of the Bishops of Elmham (S1) (S4). However, excavations in 1963/64 revealed a late Saxon (? C10) tomb slab fragment built into the church. The existing building must therefore be C10 or later. An alternative explanation is that it was an episcopal chapel built for Herbert Losinga, Bishop of Norwich AD 1091-1119, on his South Elmham estate (S5). Medieval documents refer to it as 'le Menstre', 'le Myntre' or the 'monasterium', but give no other explanations, it was certainly not in use as a church by the C14 (S6). The medieval names imply the presence of a monastery and it is possible that Bishop Herbert Losinga established a cell of the Cathedral Priory of Norwich at South Elmham, as he did at his other Suffolk seat at Hoxne (S7).
The surrounding earthwork enclosure has been claimed as Roman (S1) but there is no reason to believe that it is not contemporary with the church. The 1984 excavations did, however, find evidence of Roman settlement underlying the site (S8).
For resistivity survey results see (S11).
January 1998: For details of survey - see (S12).
February 1998: Scheduling affirmed - details in (S1).
Also Rom, Sax.

Features visible on Lidar. See associated files.

Sources/Archives (18)

  • <S1> (No record type): Rigold S E, The Anglian Cathedral of N Elmham, Medieval Archaeol, (6- 7), 1962, 67-108.
  • <R1> (No record type): Suckling A J, A History of Suffolk, 1846, 209 (note re Durrant's excavation).
  • <M1> (No record type): APs: AJO 6, 7, 26/7/1979; BDT 5, 7 21/3/1986; BHQ 42, 15/12/71.
  • <S1> Unpublished document: DOE scheduling information.
  • <S2> (No record type): Woodward B B, The Old Minster, South Elmham, PSIA 4, (1), 1864, 1-7.
  • <M2> (No record type): Excavation archive: 1984 (including S11).
  • <S3> (No record type): Smedley N & Owles E, Excavations at the Old Minster, S Elmham, PSIA 32, (1), 1970 S4) Stevenson F S,.
  • <M3> Unpublished document: Suffolk Archaeological Service. Parish file. Parish file: map of 1984 resistivity survey and plan of earthwork; site.
  • <M4> (No record type): report RDC 27/11/85; drawings - DOE earthwork plan, building plan, rectified.
  • <M5> (No record type): photographs of elevations (with additions of puttog hole dimensions) in.
  • <S5> (No record type): Heywood S, The Ruined Church at North Elmham, J Brit Archaeol Assoc 135, 1982, 1-10.
  • <S6> (No record type): Ridgard J, References to S Elmham Minster in the Medieval Account Rolls of S Elmham Manor, PSIA 36, .
  • <M6> (No record type): hanging cabinet..
  • <S7> Bibliographic reference: Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. Archaeology in Suffolk, PSIA 36, (3), 1987.
  • <S8> Bibliographic reference: Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. Archaeology in Suffolk, PSIA 36, (1), 1985.
  • <S9> (No record type): Wade-Martin P, North Elmham, EAA 9, 1980, (1), 3-6.
  • <S11> (No record type): Barrett D, letter to SAU (Wade K) & survey results, June 1984.
  • <S12> Unpublished document: Survey. Bannister N R, South Elmham Hall: Historic Landscape Survey, January 1998, ill.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

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Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Sep 24 2020 10:48AM

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