Monument record ORF 059 - Orford Ness

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Medieval or Post Medieval flood defences on Orfordness, Orford parish.


Grid reference Centred TM 43925 49486 (2599m by 2041m)
Map sheet TM44NW


Type and Period (2)

Full Description

A flood defence bank probably of medieval and post-medieval date is visible as an earthwork on aerial photographs of 1943 onwards (S1). From circa TM45225016 to the south of Lantern Marshes, the bank runs along the eastern bank of the River Ore to Stoneyditch point, where it turns roughly northwards to run alongside Stony Ditch to enclose the area known as King's Marshes. The bank is approximately 7km in length, but within the reclaimed area several relict banks are visible, forming lateral internal divisions totalling circa 1500m in length. It is probable that one of these internal banks, that visible at circa TM43954939, was rebuilt or repaired by Chinese Labour Corps during the First World War, and became known as the 'Chinese Walls' (see ORF 073). A large proportion of the riverine bank, including two of the lateral internal banks, can be seen marked on Norden's map of circa 1601 (S2). However, at this time there is no sign of the eastern coastal banks. These can first be seen on a historic map dating from circa 1800, by which time it appears that one of the lateral banks has been breached or superseded, as has part of the main bank at circa TM43164934 that was drawn as a double bank on Norden's map (S3). From the map evidence it would therefore appear that much of the western stretch of bank might date from the late medieval or early post-medieval period, with the eastern lengths forming a later post-medieval enhancement. The sea bank that forms the northern extent of King's Marshes partly follows the path of the Orford and Sudbourne parish boundary, suggesting that these marshes were enclosed on a parish by parish basis (see SUE 086). Military activity on Orfordness post-1945, has resulted in modern alterations to the flood defences and drainage in this area (S4-5).

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <S1> Photograph: USAAF. USAAF Air Photograph. US 7PH/GP/LOC132 5043-5, 5012-4 30-DEC-1943.
  • <S2> Map: John Norden. 1601. Orford Ness, A selection of Maps Mainly by John Norden - presented to J A Steers.. 1 inch to 1 mile. Circa 1601.
  • <S3> Map: Historic Map of Sudbourne: Harwich to Lowestoft, c. 1800. Circa 1800.
  • <S4> Photograph: OS, AP. NMR OS/71156 191-4 02-MAY-1971.
  • <S5> Unpublished document: Suffolk County Council Archaeologcial Service. Site Report. NMR OS/72057 011-012 24-MAR-1972.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Jun 27 2016 4:11PM

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