containing Stamford ware pottery of 11thcentury date cut through one of the ditches. The distinctive alignment implies that they predate the new borough and were probably pre-Conquest in date.
What, therefore, was their function? It has been suggested that they represent the line of a lane or a road aligned in-between the rural late Saxon fields. However, the ditches them-
selves are fairly shallow and are spaced about 10m apart, and there is no sign of a metalled surface in-between. Could it be, therefore that these are a fragment of a tenement division, perhaps part of a series of properties strung out along a road leading out of the city towards the Saxon settlement at Earlham to the west? Late Saxon ribbon development is well attested from many of the other main arteries out of the town, including King Street leading to the south (see this issue). Against this however, although there was some Thetford type pottery found in a residual state in later layers, there was not as much as was found on other sites in the city centre.
The best evidence for earlier occupation came from our most spectacular find -a small
Viking gold ingot in the northwest corner of the site. Unfortunately this was not found in an original layer but in a sand deposit used as bedding for an 18th-century floor. It is the only gold ingot of its type yet discovered in England although there are examples from Northern Scotland, and metal detectorists have collected silver ingots from a number of
Norfolk locations. As the ingot was residual in a much later context, at the time it was
Above. Reconstruction of the Norman house at
St Martins- at-Palace Plain, reported in CA 80. The two houses on the Millennium site were probably similar. (drawn by David Dobson).
1.,\ .~ .,
Edgeof I Excavation.
thought to have been brought to the site from elsewhere, probably with the bedding sand for the floor.
However several days later a sherd of Thetford-type ware crucible was uncovered within a 13th-century pit about 6m to the south of where the ingot was found. The crucible had gold residue adhering to its surface and the pit wihin which it was found cuts one of the Late Saxon ditches. Taken together, it is unlikely that two gold working rela ted finds from the late 9th to 11th centuries would be brought in from elsewhere and redposited in two separate features that themselves are separated by 500 years. It therefore is most likely that goldworking was taking place here sometimes during the
Anglo-Scandinavian (860-917) or late AngloSaxon (917-1066)periods and that this activity is connected with the property represented by the ditches.
The French borough was laid out from scratch. Unlike in the old Saxon town where numerous small churches proliferated, in the
French Borough there were just three large churches, St Giles, St Step hen and St Peter Mancroft. The latter was the largest of all,
being the parish church of the city, and the roof of the tower formed an excellent photographic tower for archaeology. The new tenements were laid out along St Peter Street or Upper Market Street as it was then known,
being the top end of the new market place. Bethel Street, the northern border of the
Was the French
Borough built on virgin ground? The double lines of ditches (above) date from the 9th/10th centuries.
Below. Evidence for the
Vikings: a gold 'ingot',
a grand term for a small but nonetheless unique object.
Below. Localinterest in the site heightens after the discoveryof 'gold'.