Monument record ORF 102 - Sea banks of possible medieval to Post Medieval date are visible on Havergate Island, Orford parish

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Sea banks of possible medieval to Post Medieval date are visible on Havergate Island, Orford parish


Grid reference Centred TM 41234 47438 (2586m by 1636m) (2 map features)
Map sheet TM44NW


Type and Period (2)

Full Description

Several phases of sea bank construction on Havergate Island in Orford parish can be seen as earthworks on aerial photographs from the early 1940s onwards, centred on circa TM41764761. It is not possible to tell from the aerial photographs alone at what date the island was reclaimed, but the first edition Ordnance Survey map of about 1884 shows that the banks on the island have not changed significantly since 1884, providing at the latest a Post Medieval date for their construction (S1). Although it is somewhat schematic, a map of 1601 by John Norden shows a bank bisecting the island, probably representing that visible on aerial photographs at circa TM41394742 (S2). Unfortunately Norden's focus is on the Orfordness area, and Havergate Island is too far south to benefit from his detailed mapping, but at least it gives an indication that some bank construction had been completed by 1601. This places the construction of at least some of the visible banks in the early Post Medieval period. The island itself is covered in a complex system of drains, channels and interconnecting banks, possibly representing 5 or more phases of sea bank construction or alteration. The bank described above may represent one of the earliest phases of enclosure, possibly forming the north-eastern side of the sub-rectangular division that can now be seen at the south-west end of the island. To the west of this enclosure a ploughed out bank flanked by two narrow ditches is visible as a soilmark on photographs of 1943 (S3) (see ORF 103). This bank appears to continue the line of the bank still standing to the north-east and may indicate that this reclaimed area has been extended at least once. To the north of the island the plan of an irregular sub-triangular enclosure is visible centred on circa TM41924798. This too appears to have been extended in a piecemeal fashion at least once. The eastenmost bank on the island is the survivor of one of these extensions, and now runs for about 1.5km along the southern edge of the island to the north-eastern tip, forming Cuckold's Point at circa TM42524816. The possible remains of a less successful reclamation attempt may be visible as a low bank between these outer and inner banks, centred on circa TM42414801. Smaller banks, the possible remains of more unsuccesful or superseded phases of reclamation can be seen in the saltmarsh near to areas of sea bank notable for their irregular shape. This may suggest a history of breaches and repair, such as on the southern side of the island at circa TM41554736. At the extreme south-western end of Havergate Island, seperated from the main island by an area of saltmarsh, is a triangular island of reclaimed land jabout 11.5ha in area centred on circa TM40204683. As in circa 1884, these two areas are currently connected by a causewayed trackway. It is not clear from the photographs if this represents the remains of a now relict sea bank. However, the irregular form of the bank at circa TM40424673 make it clear that some modification, repair or erosion of this south-eastern island has occurred at some point prior to 1884.

Sources/Archives (3)

  • <S1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1880s. Ordnance Survey 25 inch to 1 mile map, 1st edition. circa 1884.
  • <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> Photograph: USAAF. USAAF Air Photograph. US 7PH/GP/LOC132 5014-5 30-DEC-1943.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Oct 21 2004 4:56PM

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