Debenham - The Early History

The following papers headed “Sitomago”, “Priory Field”, “Blood Names, Debenham” and “Aspall, Stonham Aspal, Old Newton” were prepared for the Debenham History Society.


The outline history behind the papers is that in the Iron Age the people’s intellectual leaders, called Magi, were attracted to the Debenham area because it contained the springs giving rise to the River Deben. The local Celtic tribe, called the Trinovantes, elected their chief at a ceremony at the Groaning Stone, located where the main stream of the River Deben rises about a mile to the west of Debenham. The general framework of the field system north of Stony Lane, Debenham extending to Caistor, near Norwich, had been established in the Iron Age.


 In the 1st century BCE , the Romans invaded and founded in the Debenham area a settlement called Sitomago. Following the Boudican revolt of ACE 60-1, the Romans so severely punished the tribesmen that the population was substantially decreased. When early in the 5th century the Romans withdrew, the remaining inhabitants were unable to defend themselves against marauders coming by sea from Scotland. Therefore, the Angles were invited to live here and act as warriors to maintain peace. The incomers were rewarded with lands in High Suffolk (and elsewhere) and they created new fields of a uniform size and distinctive shape. Eventually the kingdom of East Anglia was formed. The kings, although peripatetic, had a major defensive structure in the Debenham area, called Wineberga (now Kenton Hall), with close by a residential Hall called Carahallam (now Blood Hall).


The Romans had introduced knowledge of Christianity into the region, but the Angles were pagan. In the 7th century St Felix and St Fursey converted the Angles to Christianity and built, as a bishop’s seat a Minster (or cathedral), probably a timber structure, called Dommoc, staffed by clergy who lived in a Priory located where the Debenham allotments are now (Priory Field). About 680, part of the diocese was hived off to form the Norfolk diocese of Elmham (originally centred at North Elmham but later moved to Thetford and later still to Norwich). In the shadow of the Minster of Dommoc a market grew up. In the 14th century the market concourse seems to have been moved some 400 yards to a specially prepared triangular plot, now called Market Green.


In 869 the Danes invaded East Anglia defeating the Angles at a battle fought at Haegelisdun (Blood Field. Debenham). After the battle Edmund, the East Anglian king, ran away, but was captured at Hoxne and returned to his Hall (Blood Hall). Then a horrific war crime was committed in which he was executed. All religious buildings were destroyed.


Between 1087 (Domesday Book) and the last quarter of the 14th century major changes were made to administrative areas in High Suffolk –

   prior to 1240, a new Hundred, called Thredling, was created from parts of Bosmere and

     Claydon Hundreds and part of the Bishop’s Hundred, which was renamed Hoxne Hundred.

   parishes were re-organised – Winston and Aspall churches were moved.


Much of the evidence is circumstantial. It relies heavily on precedent and orally transmitted traditions of the area. It is, however, corroborated by field names It is submitted that the great mass of evidence is overwhelming and fits a consistent pattern. Prior to 869, the Debenham area was one of the most important places in East Anglia and, since Edmund was the over king of England, of major consequence in the whole of England. Moreover, the identifications indicate commentators/historians such as Bede and Abbo of Fleurie and the early chroniclers were substantially correct.



26 Saxon Way

Melton, Woodbridge

IP12 1LG                 

2nd January 2008







In view of recent attempts to trace a lost Roman site called Sitomago, this note examines the background to assist in establishing identification of its location.


The prime source of information is the Itinerarium Antonini Augusti, generally known as the Antonine Itinerary, which was apparently prepared in the late 2C or early 3C ACE. It seems to be a list of staging posts, with distances between them, in the Roman Empire, in Africa, Asia, Continental Europe and Britain, perhaps for use by travellers on inspection visits or delivering post. The mileages given are not always for the shortest route as sometimes there was a diversion to visit other, unspecified, places in the vicinity. The ninth Itinerary is a route from Venta Icinorum (Caistor St. Edmunds, near Norwich) to London and cites Sitomago as being 32 Roman miles from Caistor and 22 Roman miles from Combretonio (Baylham House, near Coddenham). In the Itinerary, place-names are often in the locative case, hence Sitomago. The nominative ending would be magus; the plural magi and the possessive magorum.


A secondary source of information is the Tabula Peutingerina, a Roman map, copied in 1265 by a monk in Alsace and found by Conradis Celtis, who bequeathed it to Konrad Peutinger (died 1547) of Ausberg, Germany. The copy is 6.82 x 0.34 metres and has been torn into 12 segments. The original may have been made in the 3C ACE. The routes of the Itinerary are shown in stylised form. The segment showing Britain has been damaged so that only the part relating to SE England survives. The Table quotes Sinomagi as being 22 Roman miles from AD TA UM (portion of Venta Icinorum – possibly XXXII has been wrongly copied as XXII) and 15 Roman miles from Convetani (possible transcribing error for Combretovium). The Table uses a series of icons showing buildings of various sizes, the purport of which is not clear. They may be for administrative centres or for varying facilities for use by travellers. Only the icon with the smallest building is used for Britain and is against Dubris (Dover), Ratupis (Richborough), Duroaverus (Canterbury), Lemavio (Lympne) and Sitomago. Surprisingly, it is not against Colchester.


A Roman mile consisted of 1000 runner’s paces. However, the length of a pace seems to have varied between individuals. Margery’s estimate of a Roman mile being of 1684 yards (2) is used here as the estimate is based on studies of Roman roads in Britain. Mediterranean people may have been shorter than the British, with a consequent diminution in the length of the pace.


32 Roman miles = about 30.5 Statute miles and 22 Roman miles = about 21 Statute miles. The locations of Venta Icinorum and Combretovium are certain and the stages between them in the Itinerary total 54 Roman miles (approx. 51.5 Statute miles). The distance as the crow flies is about 33 Statute miles or using modern roads about 35 Statute miles. The modern route uses by-passes, notably at Dickleborough and Yaxley and the Roman road may have been shorter, say 34 Statute miles. Thus the Itinerary makes a diversion extending the route by 17.5 Statute miles. The diversion could finish at Sitomago, or Sitomago could be on the diversion.


Matthew of Westminster, a ?14C chronicler who was probably drawing on earlier sources, says that King Edmund of East Anglia was martyred at Sitomago (3).


Among sites suggested for Sitomago are Dunwich (4), Haughley (5), Thetford, Norfolk (6), Woolpit (7), Buxlow, near Knodishall (8), Aspal/Debenham (9) and Yoxford (10). In each case there are objections that the mileages do not fit, that no substantial Roman remains have been found, or that a Roman road has not been identified as such.


Lists of place-names containing the element ‘magus’ or ‘magos’ have been made by –


(1) Dr Prichard in a work published in 1841 (11) giving 44 names, plus 3 with magus derivatives        (Magiovinum, Vacomagi and Magolitum), using as his sources The Antonine Itinerary and Claudius Ptolemy (circa 150 ACE)

(2) Canon Taylor (undated, around 1900) (12), giving 17 names.

(3) Alfred Holder in a work published in 1904 (13). He regards ‘magos ‘ and ‘magus’ as being synonyms and lists 89 names, of which 27 have ‘magos’ at the ending. 18 sites are listed for the name Noviomagus.


All three and Rivet and Smith in a work published in 1979 (1) derive  ‘magus’ from an Irish word magh, meaning a plain or a field. Canon Taylor totals over 100 Irish names involving  maes – pronounced mā, which I the same word in Welsh and Amorican. He adds Mahi Sanskrit=terra


Rivet and Smith consider that Sitomagi is an incorrect variant of Senomagi (there are four examples of this name in Continental Europe) – British Seno=old. [no comment is made about possible derivation from Latin  seno, old] P.J.Drury (14) takes original British magos’ field, plain, then market. Margaret Gelling (15) opts for Sitomagi=wide field.


Some of the place-names are repeated for two or more locations. Names with ‘magus’ or its derivatives are given for over 150 sites, all in the Celtic (including Belgic) area of the Roman Empire, i.e., in Northern Italy, Germany south of the Rhine, France, the Low Countries and the British Isles.. There are none in Greece, Spain or the Balkans.




Dewi Davis (16) lists 27 Welsh place-names with the element ‘maes’. In each example ‘maes’ apart from Maes itself, is followed by a description. For example,  Maesfeln, meadow of the mill; Maes-mawr, big meadow. Maes is never preceded by a description as in the ‘magus’ names. No examples of a ‘maes’ name have been traced in Scotland although this may because Gaelic was a late introduction to that country. None of the ‘maes’ names has developed a ‘gus’ ending. If a name is derived from ‘a field’ one would expect the neuter declension  – um to appear but no ‘magum’ ending name has been traced. Why wasn’t the Latin word for a field, plain, campus i,m (neuter) used?


In 4 cases (listed below), the ‘magus’ name is linked to the emperor or his family. Why is such a distinction conferred on an apparently unimportant site? If ‘magus’ implies market, one would expect references in the name to fortifications, since markets often grow up in the shelter of a fortification or a fortification is sited to protect the market but there are none such. Moreover many of the locations seem in the first century ACE to have been remote and did not develop. Thus Vindomagus, west of Nantes; Scindomagus, near Mount Vescules; Duromagus, near Cologne; Cameliomagus, near Placentia; Caesarmagus, near Beauvais.


Several of the ‘magus’ names seem to relate to the times of Germanicus and Claudius (circa 14-54 ACE). So many names reflecting a new field would indicate a major economic change but there is no contemporary record of such.



An alternative etymon supported by Nennius


In considering the Roman world, Latin or Greek may be the source of names, although Latin itself may have been influenced by Celtic languages. A straight forward derivation of Sitomago is from Latin sito the locative of situs, the place, site, situation of anything, and Latin mago, the locative of magus (plural magi, possessive magorum), learned man or magician, from Greek magos. In corroboration, the text of the History of the British, put together by Nennius, chapters 40-42 under the heading ‘De Ambrosio’ uses the word magos  or its variants magi, magis and magorum eleven times. John Morris , the editor of the Phillimore edition (1980), translates magos as wizard, a word these days conveying the image of a children’s party conjuror. Perhaps, preferable is the translation ‘wise man’ used in the King James’ Bible (St Matthew Chapter II). The earliest surviving edition of Nennius is dated 828/9 ACE but as Nennius has a detailed knowledge of Roman Consuls, it is thought that Nennius when writing the relevant section used a source now lost, written not much later than the 6th century. The word  mago is also used in the poems Wanderer (ms 10C, line 92) and Beowulf (ms circa 1000, line 215).


Who were the magi?


Herodotus (died circa 425 BCE), when writing about Babylon and the Medes and Persians, makes numerous references to the Magi as one of the tribes who formed the Medes into a nation (17). They were interpreters of visions/dreams (18). Had the custom of not burying their dead until the body had been torn by a dog or a bird of prey (19),and unlike priests,.are prepared to kill all animals except dogs and men (20). They had royal powers (21) Had wives (22), assembled the people (23). During the festival of Magophonia, which commemorated the slaying of Magi by Darius, no magus might remain at home the entire day (24). One magus was described as a king (25). An eclipse of the sun was described as an omen (26). Poured libations (27). Sacrificed white horses (28). Babylon had a sacred precinct of Zeus Belas (29). Confirmation of the worship of Bel is contained in Isaiah 46,1. Bel was associated with light and is represented by fire and George Rowlinson, the translator of the Wordsworth Classics edition of Herodotus, in a note, says that Bel was the sun god. Zeus was called in Homeric poems ‘the thunderer’ and was the principal god of the Greek Pantheon. The Romans called him Jupiter, the thunderer, and to Swedes and Anglo-Saxons he was Thor. Adam of Bremen (30), describing the temple at Upsala. Says that the people worship statues of three gods, the most powerful of whom, Thor, is seated on a couch in the niddle, with Woden on one side and Frica on the other.


Ausonius, writing in the 4C ACE (31) refers to the memory of people sprung from the stock of the druids of Bayeux tracing their hallowed line from the temple of Belenus. In another passage (32), Ausonius refers to Phoebicius, who though keeper of Belenus’ temple, got no profit thereby. Yet he, sprung from the druids of Armorica, obtained a chair at Bordeaux by his son’s help. Pliny the Elder (died 79 ACE) says that the Gauls called their magos druids (33). Pliny said also (34) that at the present day Britannia is still fascinated by magic and performs its rites with so much ceremony that it almost seems that it was she who had imparted the cult to the Persians. Further Pliny (35) indicates that oak was the sacred tree of Zeus and that his sacred colour was white – he describes the sacrifice of two white bulls and the wearing of a white cloak. Robert Graves has a reference (36) to Zeus of the white poplar (aspen tree), although this tree is associated also with Zeus’s brother Hades (syn. Pluto and Dis). Jupiter, to use the Roman name, was the lord of Heaven, prince of Light, the white colour was sacred to him; his chariot was drawn by four white horses, his priests wore white caps and the Consuls were attired in white in the Capitol when they entered their office.


Reconstruction of the 1BCE– 1ACE situation


Throughout the Celtic area in the first century BCE, prior to invasion by the Romans, the druids were a strong influence. We know of them mainly from the writings of Julius Caesar (mid 1C BCE; Cicero (about 8 years later); Diodorus Siculus (about 8 BCE); Strabo (died 23 ACE); Ammianus Marcellinius (4ACE); Pliny the Elder (died 79ACE); Pomponius Mela (1C ACE) and Lucan (written between 54 and 68ACE). T.D.Kendrick has extracted the quotations relevant to druids from those writers (37) and the following paragraph is mainly based on the extracts


The general word druid is applied to three types of person – Bards, Vates or Euhayes who were seers and, perhaps, chanters and Druids, men of greater talent. The druids were teachers, doctors, lawyers, judges, and peacemakers between combatants. They held aloof from war and were exempt from taxes. They discussed stars and their movements, the size of the earth and the order of nature. Strongly committed to the Pythagorean doctrine that souls did not die but after death the soul passed from one to another; they specialised in prophecy and the interpretation of dreams. A chief druid was appointed and they sat in conclave at a consecrated spot, frequenting remote groves. Trees were important to them, especially the oak. They favoured the colour white. All men moved out of their path and shunned their approach and conversation, for fear that they may get some harm from the contact. Tacitus (late 1C ACE) describes (38) how in Anglesey, the druids poured dreadful imprecations and how frenzied women scared Roman soldiers. Human sacrifices were made.


Strabo (39) said that the Romans put a stop to the customs of the druids, mentioning sacrifices and divinations. Pliny (40) says that, in the time of the Emperor Tiberius, a decree was issued against the druids and the whole tribe of divines and physicians – Tiberius’ adopted son Germanicus, who commanded in Germania 14 – 17 ACE, may have inspired this. Suetonius says (41) that the Emperor Claudius very thoroughly suppressed the barbarous and inhuman religion of the druids in Gaul, which, in the time of Augustus, had merely been forbidden to Roman citizens. Claudius visited Britain in 43 ACE, attending a parade at Colchester. No doubt the suppression was enforced in Britain also. Although both the expeditions to Anglesey of Suetonius Paulinus in 59 ACE and Agricola in 77 ACE may have had copper deposits in view, they resulted in the suppression of a druidic centre.


The suppression of the druids would have left a void. The people would still have needed doctors, teachers and lawyers. It seems that the Romans took the more intelligent, and less frenzied, druids,  to create a new class, called magi or wise men, not indulging in human mutilation, by way of sacrifice or augury. As a precedent in Rome there were the Magistri, the title of the heads of a religion, or semi-religious organisation: the officials were not priests, although they had some sacred duties. The magi were still officiating in the 5C when Vortigern was the leader and they would have become the Witan of Anglo-Saxon eras. – Witan from wit = knowledge. Thus the knowledge of the Iron-Age peoples passed to later generations. It may be that some of the Magi became converted to Christianity and entered monasteries as priests or monks.  When in 725 Bede wrote “The Reckoning of Time”, he had vast knowledge of astronomy and the causes of tides, no doubt, acquired from his predecessors. We do not know the origin of English Common Law – there are indications that some legal customs have come from Celtic times, for example the custom known as Borough English, applied in numerous Suffolk Manors whereby copyhold land passed on death to the youngest son (42).


In Ireland, not subject to Roman invasion, the druids persisted and the festival of Bel(l)taine was still being celebrated on the 1st May circa 900 (43).


Examination of the earliest known ‘magus’ names


In this section selective etymons only are given. L =  Latin.


Examination of Dr Prichard’s list of magus names based on the Antonine Itineraries and Claudius

Ptolemy (1C ACE) discloses that the names of 10 sites are based on Latin NOVIOMAGUS or Greek NOEMAGOS, implying something new. Four names are linked to the Roman ruler – JULIOMAGUS, DRUSOMAGUS, AUGSTOMAGUS, CAESAROMAGUS [Julius the name of a gens or clan used by Julius Caesar and his adopted son Occavianus, who later took the surname Augustus; Drusus, cognomen or family name of Nero: after Octavianus  all the emperors bore the name Caesar with the title Augustus until Hadrian, when the reigning emperor was called Caesar Augustus and the appointed heir Caesar]. To this group may be added CLAUDIO-MAGUS and NERO-MAGUS listed by Holder. Five names reflect legal or financial terms – VINDOMAGUS L vindex, vindico, a surety: ARGANTOMAGUS L argentarius relating to silver: CAVENTOMAGUS L caveo, to give security for: CONDATOMAGUS L ? conditio, varius legal meanings, especially  as regards marriage contracts: LICIDOMAGUS L ? licitus, ? licet, allowed, permitted: Seven names reflect religion – HEBROMAGUS there were Hebrew connections with the Magi (Simon Magus, a Samarian, is mentioned in Acts 8: 9-12: Justin Martyr, a 2C ACE theologian, says that Simon visited Rome in the time of Claudius): BROMAGUS Bromius was a surname of Bacchus: SERMANICOMAGUS L sermo, talk,, possibly as in sermon; CAMELIOMAGUS Camelus was the Celtic god of war c.f. Camulodunum, Roman name for Colchester; LATTOMAGUS Lato, the mother of Apollo and Diana, who she bore to Jupiter; CASSINOMAGUS, now Chassenon, France, whose web site, translated, gives “Gone of the Oak”: DURNOMAGUS, nor Dormagen, Germany, whose web site gives one interpretation of Durno as amended form of the word for tower in Latin or eingedeutscherter  borrowing as derivative of the indogermanischen form of the word for ‘tree, wood or oak’ or also as name of a protective patron (the name Durmast, a species of oak, may be relevant). Holder gives, both in Britain, LEUCOMAGUS L leuco can mean white: L LITANOMAGUS L ? litatio, an auspicious offering, a successful sacrifice. Four names appear to relate to knowledge, teaching or prophecy – RHATOMAGUS L rheto, a teacher of rhetoric: CATORIMAGUS L ? catus, sagacious, acute, clever, L ? cateria, troop: SCINGOMAGUS L sciens (scio), knowing something: BODINGCOMAGUS possibly from Gothic bidjan , the p.t. of which would give the modern ‘bode’ to portend. Only three names are not relevant to the druids or are unexplainable – RIGOMAGUS L rigo, to lead or conduct water to any place; GABROMAGUS (in Austria) ? Gabreta were a people in Bavaria, c.f. Gabrantovices, a people in NE Britain: BORBETOMAGUS, now Worms, Germany. Dr Prichard also lists – VACOMAGI L vaco, to be empty, void: MAGIOVINUM, as in Vindomagus above: MACOLITUM (Mull, Ireland) Irish maq=mag, Litum as in Licidomagus, above.




The nearest magus element place-name to Sitomago is Caesaromagus, identified as the present Moulsham on the outskirts of Chelmsford. There is no evidence of the occupation of Chelmsford town area before 1199. The Roman site is on the opposite bank of the River Can, near its confluence with the River Chelmer. A Neolithic ritual centre (cursus) and Bronze Age enclosure lies to the east. There is evidence of early Iron Age occupation along the banks of the River Can but no evidence of any large scale Pre-Roman  settlement. There are traces of a large building described as a Roman mansio- posting station of courtyard plan, re-built of stone in early to mid 2C. From a re-examination of earlier finds, it is now thought that there was no fortification there. (45)


Clues for the identification of Sitomago


In addition to appropriate mileage figures, evidence should be expected for a ritual site, a wooded area (grove), or springs/wells; place/name evidence for a connection with Bel/Zeus/Jupiter/Thor: association with trees such as white poplar (aspen): seat of learning. If Matthew of Westminster is to be believed, evidence should be sought of a Battle against the Danes.


From an examination of the lines of major Roman roads, only that from Baylham House to Hacheston Margary No. 34) lends itself to a diversion. This supports identification with a site near Knodishall proposed by Robert Steerwood (8). The name Knodishall (Cnotesheala in D.B.) may contain the element ‘he(a)lh’, a corner, nook, secret place (46). Cnotta, as used by Aelfric, can mean knotty point, puzzle. The Hundred River rises there. However, there is no evidence of a mansio or clear evidence of a Roman road from there to Caistor St. Edmond.


Aspall also gives a place-name clue (halh, as above, with aspen trees [white poplar]). The parish was formerly much larger, extending south as far as Gracechurch Street, Debenham (47) and containing the sources of three of the four streams, which unite to form the River Deben. One of the streams arises in the Belwell Plantation (48). One stream, regarded by the Ordnance Survey as the main stream, in Victorian times came from springs in deep holes near the ‘Groaning Stone’ and a barrow; near there Gallo/Belgic pottery finds (49). One of the Domesday Book entries for Aspall (50) refers to a fair, the only fair mentioned in East Anglia, indicative that this was the most important location in the region at that time. There is evidence from coin finds and field walking finds of continual occupation from the 1C BCE onwards . Manorial records indicate that in medieval times the area was heavily wooded. Blood Field, which would have been in Aspall parish, is the traditional site of a battle against the Danes and Anglo-Saxon swords were found there about 1900 (51). There is as yet evidence of neither a mansio, nor, in order to meet the mileage specification for a diversion to Hacheston, that the present road along the Deben Valley from Hacheston to Debenham existed in Roman times.



The Aspall element in the name Stonham Aspal is of post 1086 origin, possibly reflecting a population move from Aspall following a drying up of streams due to a climate change.


Diss, with its Mere, the only natural deep lake in the area, the name possibly derived from Pater Dis (syn Pluto/Hades), is rejected, as the mileages do not fit.







Cassell’s Latin Dictionary been used as it is a dictionary of Classical Latin, omitting archaic or post-Augustian words. The British part of the Peutinger Table has been reproduced by Rivet and Smith (  ) 

(1)    The Place-Names of Roman Britain. A.E.F.Rivet and Colin Smith. B.T.Batsford Ltd. London 1979         

(2)    Roman Roads in Britain. Ivan D.Margery. John Baker. London. 3rd Ed. 1973. Appendix.

(3)    Records of Saint Edmund of East Anglia, King and Martyr. J.R.Thompson. London. 1890 p25.

(4)    The Buildings of England. Suffolk N.Pevsner. Penguin Books Ltd. 2nd Ed. 1974. p23.

(5)    William White’s Directory of 1844.

(6)    Dr Prichard, as (11) p 178.

(7)    William White’s Directory of 1844 and the Guide to the Parish church.

(8)    PSIAH XL Pt.3. Article by Richard Steerwood.

See below.

(9)    Margary, as (2) p531.

Researches into the Physical History of Mankind. James Cowles Prichard. MD FRS MRIA. 3rd Ed. Vol III. London 1841. p 126 et seq.

(10)Words and Places. Isaac Taylor. J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd. London. Undated (circa 1900).

(11)A. Holder. Alt-celtischer Sprachschatz. Leipzig. 1896-7. Vol II.

(12)Brit. Arch. Reports 15. Oxford . 1975. The Small Towns of Roman Britain. P 163.

(13)Signposts to the Past. Biddles Ltd. For J.M.Dent 1978. p 42

Welsh Place-names and their Meanings. Printed for The Cambrian News, Aberystwyth . undated.

(14)Herodotus. Histories. Book 1,101.

(15)Ibid 1,108; 120. Book 7,109.

(16)Ibid 1,140.

(17)Ibid 1,140  They are different from Egyptian priests.

(18)Ibid 3,65-7.

(19)Ibid 3,73.

(20)Ibid 3,75.

(21)Ibid 3,79.

(22)Ibid 3,150

(23)Ibid 7,37.

(24)Ibid 7,43

(25)Ibid 7,113

(26)Ibid 3,158

(27)The passage is given by Dr Prichard (as 11) p 388.

(28)Commem. Professorum, IV, 7-10.

(29)Ibid X, 22-30.

(30)Nat. Hist., XVI, 249

(31)Ibid XXX, 13

(32)Ibid XVI, 249

(33)The White Goddess. London. 196.  p 434

(34)T.D.Kendrick. The Druids. Ed. Published by Senate. 1994 gives the extracts from the Classical Authors, both in the original text and translation.

(35)Annals. XIV, 30

(36)Geographia, IV,4, c. 198,5

(37)Nat. Hist. XXX, 13. Tacitus mentions that at that time the Senate ordered the expulsion of the astrologers and magicians from Italy – The Annals of Imperial Rome. II, 31

(38)Claudius, 25

(39)See PSIAH Vol. II. 1859. Herodotus mentions the custom Book 7,3

(40)Mentioned in the Glossary of Cormac, Bishop of Cashel and King of Munster, died 908: he derives the name Beltaine from a god Bel or Bil and the Old Irish word tene, fire Enc. Brit)


(42)Extracted from ‘The Small Towns of Roman Britain. Oxford 1975 (BAR 15); Historic Towns in Essex. Essex C.C.1983 and Small Towns in Eastern England and Beyond. Edited by A.E.Brown. Oxbow Books. Oxford 1995 p 126-7

(43)The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names. E.Ekwall 4th Ed. 1960

(44)The case for the move of the church of St Mary of Grace from Gracechurch Street, Debenham is examined in Debenham’s Ecclesiastical Heritage. Debenham History Society 2003 p 54-6

(45)The Belwell name, various spellings, can be traced back to Sackville’s Manor Court Rolls of 22.9.1428 (Collation 10) SRO QS Debenham 9

(46)James Cornish’s Debenham. Debenham History Society 1990 – originally published by Country Life 1939. Field Walking reports by A.E.Savery 12.2.1999

(47)Phillimore Ed. Vol. 34 Suffolk 34,18

(48)Samuel Dove’s Debenham. Debenhan History Society 2nd Ed. 2000. p131. Note by F.E.M.Chevallier in East Anglian Miscellany 1909. p 6.




5th August 2004





The element ‘priory’ is in a number of names of fields and roads in Debenham Parish.


Today, a road from the north-eastern point of Cross Green to Water Lane is named Priory Lane, but this road in the 1950s was called Hogs’s Close and in 1922 Hoskess  Lane (1). The 1:25000 Series Ordnance Survey Map published in 1956 gives the name Priory Lane to a track leading from Water Lane north by northeast (approx. 35º) towards Blood Hall and Kenton Hall, where it links with a path to Kenton. In the 1980s, elderly residents of Debenham said that, prior to the 1914-18 war, this was used as the main cart way from Debenham to Kenton.


There are a number of sites, grouped together, whose names suggest a connection with a religious house –


   Priory Field    (approx. TM16 177636), where there are allotments today.

   Priors Close   Part of this is of Kenton cum Suddon Hall Manor fee: vide that manor’s Court Rolls of


   Pains Priory      

   Second Priory            vide 1837 Tithe Map and Associated Rent Charge.

   Great Priory               Round Priory is of Crows Hall Manor fee vide abuttals cited in Debenham Butley

Manor Survey

   Round Priory              of 1621, folio 20.

   Pyes Closes alias Prests Closes.   Vide Debenham Butley Manor Survey of 1621, folio 20.

   Pyes Closes.              Vide Debenham Butley Manor Survey of 1621, folio 20, in abuttals – enclosure

of two clerks [clericorum].        


   Pyes Close                 Vide Crows Hall Manor Survey of 1621, folio 6 (in abuttals).

   Pryory Lane.              Many references in manorial surveys of 1621. Corresponds with the O.S. map

reference mentioned above.

   Priourslanesend.         Vide Will of Robert Cheke 1476.


A 1251 Survey of Wetheringsett Manor (3) has a reference thought to relate to Priory Field describing it as “the lands of the Bishop”, but the location is not precisely identified and although the diocesan Bishop of Norwich is probably referred to, he could be the Bishop of Ely, since Wetheringsett Manor is held by Ely.


The site


Early editions of the O.S. maps mark Priory Field as the site of a Priory. The 1829 Suffolk Traveller said of the site, that a little below the surface some foundations of an old and extensive building were discovered and quotes a 16 line romantic poem about the Priory. The East Anglian miscellany 1931 p.36 (quoting British Archaeological AssocVolXXVIII, 72) states that here foundations were discovered [in the 1920s] a little below the surface and quotes Excurs. Suffolk 1819 p.50.   Morley searched the spot and found a human arm, many iron nails, doubtless from coffins, and some red tiles. In a 1922 History of Debenham, Morley refers to some brick foundations there. Following harrowing in each of the years 1986-90, it was observed that the possible location of the foundations could be deduced from differences in soil colourisation, levels, and a surplus of flints – the was no indication of any brick. In the exceptionally wet October of 1987, a combine harvester sunk on the site to a depth of 3 feet, but no foundations were visible. Local residents who had seen the 1920s excavation think that the foundations are 5 feet below the surface.




Numerous coins have been recovered from Priory Field or its vicinity. A Mr. Fitch reported (4) that he had visited Debenham on the 23rd June 1845, was shown Priory Field and informed that ancient coins were frequently found by labourers employed upon it. On the 1st July1845, he was brought 23 coins that were found in the last week. He lists, inter alia, coins of Trajan (98 – 117), Carausius (287 – 293) and coins from Henry III to Charles I. Other recorded coins found in Debenham include - Cunobelin (10 – 40), Offa. Beonna (both 8th century),Alfred (871 – 899), Aethelred II (978 – 1016) and Harold I (1035 –1040). Local people tell of their grandparents finding and selling coins from the allotments, part of Priory Field.


Was the Priory that of Butley?


In the 1970s and 1980s it was thought that the priory in question was that of Butley on the grounds that –


(a)    Extensive ecclesiastical records dating from the 12th century onwards make no reference to a religious building on the site.

(b)    Butley Priory held a manor containing over 500 acres centred on Debenham.

(c)    The 1621 Survey of the Manor of Debenham Butley (5) describes Oxeclose as lying opposite the gates or site of the manor formerly the Priory of Butley’s. Oxeclose is opposite to the original Priory Lane..

Criticism of that identification –

(a)    The 1621 Survey of the Manor of Debenham Butley lists all the properties over which the Manor held rights, other than the demesne lands. No part of Priory Field is listed in the Survey.   

(b)    The demesne land of Debenham Butley Manor lies to the west of the original Priory Lane and does not include land whose name contains the ‘Priory’ element (6).

(c)    The greater part of the Priory Field is of Kenton cum Suddon Hall Manor fee, vide that manors 17th century court rolls. A circa 1790 plan of Kenton Hall Farm corroborates this – see Appendix B.

(d)    Debenham Butley Manor is usually so called, i.e., does not include the element ‘Priory’. No reference has been found in the field names where the word Butley prefaces the word ‘Priory’.



 WHAT IS A PRIORY?.                                                                                                       


The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines a priory as a monastery or nunnery governed by a prior or prioress; usually an offshoot of an abbey on which it is dependent: also a house of Canons Regular. Butley Priory was founded in1171 by Ranulf de Glanville as a house for Augustinian Canons (7).


However, some early cathedrals were served by monks who lived in a monastery near the church. Here the Bishop was nominally the head of the monastery, but the Bishop was frequently absent  - attending the King’s Court, attending Synods called by the Archbishop, or visiting in the diocese to confirm new entrants and encouraging the clergy and the population generally. As a remedy, a Prior was appointed to act for the Bishop. Examples of such cathedrals are Canterbury, Winchester and Ely. Norwich, although not established until circa 1091, was the successor, after various intermittent stages, of a seventh century diocese founded in Suffolk, was also served by a monastery headed by a Prior. After the dissolution of the monasteries the cathedrals in question were reconstituted under Deans and Canons, and are said, therefore, to be of the New Foundation (8).




An alternative explanation of the ‘Priory’ field names is based on the Little Domesday Book entry for Hoxne –

   Under lands of William Bishop of Thetford, in the Bishop’s Hundred, -


   “Bishop Aelmer held Hoxne [Hoxana] as a manor in the time of King Edward [t.r.e.] ; 9 carucates of land …… In this manor    there was a market t.r.e. and after King William came and it took place on Saturdays, W(illiam) Malet made his castle at Eye and, on the same day that there was a market on the Bishop’s manor, W(illiam) Malet established another market in his castle. Because of this, the Bishop’s market declined so that it was worth little: and now it  takes place on Fridays. However, the market at Eye takes place on Saturdays; Robert (Malet) now holds it by the

King’s gift. In this manor is a church, the episcopal see of Suffolk t.r.e. Value of this manor then £28; now (£) 20; but it paid  £30 to Erfast…” (9)


Aelmar was consecrated Bishop of Elmham after August 1047 and deposed circa April 1070. He was the brother of Stigand  (formerly Bishop of Elmham, later Archbishop of Canterbury). William Bishop of Thetford (the successor of Elmham) was nominated Bishop of Thetford in 1085. He died or resigned before 27.1.1091. Erfast  was consecrated Bishop of Elmham in 1070. He moved the see to Thetford between 1070 and 1072.


The LDB entry for Hoxne is precise in its wording. The Bishop’s market and the church, the Episcopal see of Suffolk before 1066, are stated to be in the manor of Hoxne. The wording indicating that the location is in the manor is repeated three times. None of the other entries for markets in Suffolk refer so specifically to ‘in this manor’.  The monarch alone possessed the power of creating markets and fairs (10). The franchise of a market or fair carries with it a right to be protested from disturbance  by a rival market or fair [on the same day] levied within the common law distance of 7 miles. A 13th or 14th century ruling (Bracton bk IV C.46 fol. 235) gives, more strictly, 6⅔ miles. The present mile of 1760 yards was established by Statute in 1593. Robert Morden’s map of circa 1694 gives a scale of miles represented by 2430, 2200, and 1830 yards (11). 1830 yards is a distance frequently noted regarding early field measurements in Suffolk and as ‘a mile’ would indicate a distance between markets of approx. 7½ statute miles. [Eye Market and Framlingham Market are both 7½ miles from Debenham Market]. Aethelstan, King of the West Saxons 927-939 added to an existing law of Edward the Elder “Let every market be in a city” (12).


Markets in East Anglia established before the Conquest are usually 15 miles apart. The 6⅔ miles ruling seems to have been introduced by the Normans. Hoxne is well spread out, but measured from the parish church, it is about 3¼ miles from Eye Castle. In view of the distance and the legal protection given to a market franchise, it can be deduced that the Bishop’s market is not in Hoxne Parish. No trace of a pre conquest market or cathedral as been found in Hoxne Parish. Later, Hoxne did have a market but its charter was not issued until 1227, when it was held on Wednesdays (13).


Michael Aston and James Bond in The Landscape of Towns (14) comment that markets were held in churchyards up to the 13th century. It is likely the episcopal see, church and the Bishop’s market were in the same place. To locate this it is necessary to locate where Hoxne Manor lands were. Copinger in his Manors of Suffolk lists 3 manors for Hoxne – Hoxne Priory, Hoxne Parsonage and the Manor of Hoxne (15}. There was a small Benedictine Priory at Hoxne but it was an outpost of Norwich cathedral (16). The word parsonage seems to stem from Middle English and to be post 1066 in origin. It seems, therefore, that of the 3 manors only Hoxne Manor existed in 1086. The LDB gives us clues as to where the lands of Hoxne Manor were located as some entries state that the ‘soc’ was in Hoxne.

The modern spelling is ‘soke’ as, for example, ‘the Soke of Peterborough”. In considering the meaning of the word ‘soc’ regard should be had to the legal phrase ‘sac and soc’ [sake and soke], frequently met with in the area of the Danelaw. –

(a)   sac, saca, sacan,sacu. Lay claim to right to hear a cause, i.e., power to hold a court. The powers granted to manors to hold a court varied. Most of the manorial courts in High Suffolk were Courts Baron, which did little more than maintain a land register, with power to charge rent (payable by service or money) and to record changes of ownership, charging a fee for so doing. Some manors held Courts Leet with powers to appoint constables, maintain highways, and to collect ‘geld’ (a tax). Wetheringsett manor is known to have power to punish criminals.

(b)    soc, socn, socna. Seeking, question, inquiry, case, cause, district in which socn was exercised (17).


The powers of manorial courts varied and the extent of the powers seem to have been determined by custom, as original royal grants have not survived. In High Suffolk the manors as we know them today, are thought to have originated after the Danish invasion of the mid 9th century.


A list of the locations in the L.D.B. with Hoxne connections is given in Appendix A. It should be noted that when the ‘soc’ is stated to be in Hoxne, that item is in Hoxne Manor. In examining the list to establish the possible whereabouts of the Bishop’s seat and market, attention is immediately drawn to Wineberga, whose name is significant.  The element ‘wine’ is Old English, friend, protector, lord; or in modern English, King.  The element ‘berga’ is modern burg, burgh, or borough – in Saxon lands, bury – meaning fortification, stemming from O.E. beorg, protection, defence, refuge. Thus the name becomes King’s Castle. Early bishop’s sees were usually founded in the shelter of a fortification, for example, Canterbury, Chichester, Chester, Gloucester, Peterborough, Rochester, Salisbury, Winchester, and Worcester. The LDB reference to ‘wineberga’ is now examined in detail.




The Victoria County History suggests that the Wineberga entry in the Suffolk part of the LDB., be identified with Wingfield but records a question mark. The ‘berga’ element is unlikely to have been replaced by ‘field’. Although Wingfield has a castle, it was only given licence to crenellate in 1382. There is no evidence of an earlier fortification. Wingfield castle was built by Michael de la Pole, who moved there from Harborough , one of the Debenham group of manors. Moreover, Wingfield appears in the LDB. as Wighefelda (18). In view of the significance of the name the two entries for ‘Wineberga’ in the LDB are given in full below.


6,308 This entry in the manuscript lies between those for Bedfield and Horham. The words underlined are an insertion in the manuscript. Lands of Robert Malet in Suffolk –  Bishop’s Hundred.

Edric held Stradbroke t.r.e.; 5½  carucates of land. Then and later 16 villagers, now 11; then 11 smallholders [bordars], now 30. Then 11 ploughs in lordship, later 6, now 5; then and later 12 men’s ploughs, now 5. 12 ploughs could be restored.

‘winebga’, one outlier [beruita] in the same reckoning and assessment.

In all, meadow, 20 acres; woodland, 400 pigs. Then 3 cobs; then 16 pigs. Now 30; 30 sheep.

2 churches, 40 acres. ½ plough.

17 freemen; 1 carucate of land. 3 ploughs. Woodland, 40pigs; meadow 5 acres. Of these freemen, the jurisdiction [soca] is in the Bishop’s manor of Hoxne; Edric held half from the Bishop. Value then £14; now  (£) 16.

Of this manor, Walter holds 2 freemen with 40 acres. Value 8s in the same assessment.

Robert of Glanville (holds) 4 (freemen) with 20 acres. (Value) 5s in the same assessment.

Walter son of Grip (holds) 1 (Freeman) with 15 acres. (Value) 30d in the same assessment.

Loernic (holds) 1 (Freeman) with 20 acres. Value 3s in the same assessment.

Edric (had) full jurisdiction [soc].

It has 2 leagues in length and 1 league in width; 14½d in tax. Others hold there.


21,45 This entry is followed by that for Monk Soham. Suffolk lands of St Etheldreda’s [Ely]. Bishop’s Hundred

A freeman, over whom St.Etheldreda’s had patronage t.r.e., held Wineberga [Winebga]; 2 carucates of land.

7 smallholders [bordars]. Then 2 ploughs in lordship, now 1; always 2 men’s ploughs. Meadow, 11acres;

woodland, 140 pigs. Then 2 cobs, now 1; 1 cattle; then 60 pigs, now 20; 20 sheep; 2 (bee) hives.

A church, 24 acres; value 4s.

13 freemen; 80 acres. Robert Malet’s predecessor had patronage over one of them. Then 4 ploughs, now 3.

Value then £4 13s 4d; now £4.

Roger Bigot claims this by the King’s gift, but the Abbot of Ely established his claim against him. Now Roger holds (it)

through a postponement.

The jurisdiction [soca]  (is) in Hoxne. It has 1 league and 2 furlongs in length, and 4 furlongs in width; 11½ in tax. Others hold there.


To establish Wineberga’ location, a site should be found with a fortification, probably, in the pre conquest time,

consisting of some kind of earthwork. For legal reasons, a distance of approx. 7½ statute miles, possibly near, or just the other side of the Hundred border, from Eye and a considerable, but unspecified distance from Stradbroke, forming an outlier (i.e., a ‘beruita’ or berewick) . Moreover, there should be evidence for 2 churches.




The LDB records a ‘Wineberga’ in Norfolk, now Whinburgh, about 2¼ miles SSE of East Dereham. Whinburgh has a market charter of 1284, and an irregularly shaped moat of exceptional size, now filled in. A deer park was nearby (19). The only similar moats traced are at Prestley Wood, Great Stukeley, Cambs. (where the moat is of similar shape , but smaller, approx 200 x 150 yards); between Shelfhanger and Burston, Norfolk (in LDB Kingsland) and at Kenton Hall, Suffolk. The similarity of the moats at Whinburgh and Kenton Hall plus the location of a deer park near Kenton Hall strongly indicate that Kenton Hall should be identified with the Suffolk entry in the LDB for Wineberga.




Kenton Hall (TM 16,187652) is approx. 1000 yards SW of Kenton Village. The Hall was much damaged by fire in August 1919. Burnt timbers from what was probably a Tudor period house are incorporated in the present structure, which is not in the prime position in the moat. It may be that there was an earlier building in the central part of the moat. The moat, of an irregular shape, today is still as shown in the 1839 Tithe Map, and in a plan of Kenton Hall Farm, by Isaac Johnson, circa 1790). A track led from the southern entry to the moat to Debenham Market, the main concourse of which, prior to the 13th century, seems, from coin evidence, to have been on Priory Field, some 2200 yards to the SW. The irregular plan of the moat may be intended to facilitate the driving of cattle from Debenham Market to safety in the event of raiders from overseas (the Vikings). The moat occupies over 7 acres of land and is the largest moat in Suffolk. The second largest is at Bedingfield Hall and encloses about 4 acres


The manor is Kenton cum Suddon Hall. Suddon Hall lies approx. 1000 yards east of Kenton Village  - the name is recorded as Sutton Hall on both the first edition of the O.S. Survey Map published in 1837 and Joseph Hodskinson’s Map of 1783. The manor court rolls of 14.11.1626 refer to Suddon Hall as a separate manor. In 1628 the manor held a Court Baron. On 15.5.1627 there was a Court General with a view of frankpledge and on 18.5.1630 there was a Court Leet. Copinger records (20) that in the time of King John the manor passed to Ivo de Kenton, who resided at Kenton Hall. However, in 1194-95, Sylvester, uncle to Alice, the wife of Ivo de Kenton, is said to have been seized of ⅓ of a knight’s fee in Debenham, Kenton and Ashfield. Alice is said to have been his nearest heir… seisin was granted to her(21). An article in a local newspaper dated 30.8.1919 reporting the burning of the Hall says that Ivo de Kenton  acquired the manor from Robert Aquillon (named in 13th century Debenham Charters). The article seems exceptionally knowledgeable, but the source of the information has not been traced.


Kenton Manor lands are extensive. Copinger records that an Ivo de Kenton died in 1355 seized of the lands and rents in Bramford, Burstall, Sproughton, Hintlesham, Whitton, Broke and Blakenham (22). In 1519 a fine was levied of Kenton Manor including tenants in Bramford, Sproughton, Intilsham (?Hintlesham), Bristowe, Wyttington (?Whitton), Brokes (Brokes Manor lies in Ipswich) Whitton, Thurleston,  Westerfield and Blakenham. If Bristowe is the same as Burstall, then all the places mentioned have a connection in the LDB with the king (Harold or Edward specified but not always named as such) (23). There is still a Kenton Lane in Bramford. In 1556 a fine levied of Kenton Hall Manor includes lands in Kettleburgh and Branston (23). Of particular note is a substantial raised earth  mound to the rear of Cherry Tree Inn, Debenham (1837 Tithe Map plot 29 Cherry Tree Mead), which is of Kenton Manor fee. It may be significant that an area near Sizewell Power Station is known as Kenton Hills. It is the custom of the manor that, on death, copyhold land descends to the youngest son. This custom is known in Law as Borough English and is indicative of a manor created prior to 1066.




The Bishop’s market, originally held on Saturdays, but following the opening of Eye market on the same day, it took place on Fridays. Identifying Wineberga with Kenton Manor indicates that the Bishop’s market became one of the Debenham markets, which met on a Friday. Debenham markets and fairs are the subject of 3 early charters –

(a)    Rolls I 456. 1220-21 Robert Aguillum granted a weekly market on Mondays at his manor of Debenham.

(b)    Rolls I 499. 1221-22 Robert Aguillum granted a yearly fair at his market of Debenham lasting for 2 days viz., on the 23rd and 24th of June and a weekly market on a Friday.

(c)    Rolls II 1226-7 Confirmatory grant to Robert Aguillum for him and his heirs to hold in perpetuity, a weekly market on Mondays at his manor of Debenham and another weekly market on Friday, and an annual fair of 3 days’ duration, viz., on 23 – 25 June.

The third part of a fair is mentioned in the LDB, under Aspall (20). The boundaries of the parishes of Aspall and Winston have been changed  - they formerly met at Debenham Market Cross (21). The fair was abolished in 1872. Where a new market is established, the required the king’s charter specifies the tolls that may be levied. In the three charters no mention of the tolls is made and, therefore, the charters are of a confirmatory nature as the markets (and fair) pre existed, the right of tolls being by prescription. The 1226-7 charter is actually described as confirmatory (22). No other earlier reference to the Friday market has been traced.. The Monday market is dealt with below under Carahallam. The LDB entries may be based on manorial records. Copinger gives the full name of the manor as Harborough Hall cum Aspall or cum Debenham (23). The remaining two thirds of the fair are not specified in the LDB, but may have been held by Malet at Eye as in 1480 the Duke of Suffolk released the bailiffs and burgesses of Eye from paying £4 p.a. fee farm for their market and fairs of Thrandeston, Finningham and Aspall except the payment of ‘stalpeny’ (24).


The importance of the fair cannot be over emphasised. One of the Laws of William I (Willalmi Articuli Retractati Cap 11) stated that no market of fair shall be permitted to take place except in the cities [civitatibus] of our realm, and in boroughs which are enclosed and walled, and in castles, and in well guarded places,…. There is no physical evidence of such walls in the Debenham area but there were two boroughs, namely Harborough (see below under a separate heading) and Wineberga, as identified with Kenton Hall. The great moat at Kenton Hall and two earth structures, one on either side of the River Deben (Hill House site of Harborough Manor fee and behind the Cherry Tree Inn of Kenton Manor fee) indicate that the Debenham area was a well fortified place.


The Aspall fair is one of only three to be listed in the whole Domesday Book. Mid summer fairs were held only in the most important centres, e.g., Winchester and London. The record of the Aspall fair Indicates that the Debenham/Winston/Aspall/ Harborough complex was at one time the most important commercial venue in East Anglia and, therefore, the likely principle seat of the king and Bishop of East Anglia.


The tolls of the markets (and fair) of Debenham are received as to –

(a)    one half by Bloodhall Manor (24),

(b)    one quarter by the Manor of Scotnetts with the Haugh (Survey of 1621 folio 2 lists a quarter of a toll house in Debenham,         

(c)    One quarter by Sackvilles Manor – 1316 order of the Eschestor to deliver to Joan widow of Sir Andrew de Sackville Kt a quarter of profits of toll of markets and fairs of Debenham assigned to her in dower (25). (Ermintrude was a maid of honour to Queen Eleanor, which is, no doubt, why her daughter Joan received a dowry from the King)

The name Scotnetts is intriguing. No family of that name has been traced from the usual reference books. The name appears to be derived from OE ‘scot’ and modern nett, clear of all charges, or as we would say today ‘Scot free’ or untaxed. Doubtless, the quarter of the Debenham market tolls is derived from the Bishop’s Friday market. The Sackville’s share was not created until 1316. Bloodhall Manor’s half share by inference would have descended from the Monday market. This leaves the question as to the origin of the Monday market. Bloodhall, as such, is not mentioned in the LDB. There is, however another market recorded in the LDB in the Bishop’s Hundred under the name Carahallam, which seems to correspond with Bloodhall.




Carahallam is listed in the LDB as part of the lands of Roger Bigot in the Bishop’s Hundred (26). Two manors are recorded, one held by Roger Bigot, whose predecessor in the t.r.e. is stated to be Norman  (probably Norman the Sheriff) and the other by Wulfeva.


In Bigot’s manor there were 35 freemen, 10 villagers (in 1086 15) and 7 bordars (in 1086 17). The value in 1086 £24. There is woodland and a church with 30 acres.


Wulfeva’s manor was valued at £8. There was a market in 1086 by the king’s gift.


The LDB lists a number of further holdings which the Phillimore edition links with Carahallam but the spelling differs, namely, Keleshala, Kereshalla, Chylesheala, Kireshala, Cheressala, and Cheresola (27).


The Victoria County History identifies Carahallam with Kelsale but records a question mark. Subsequent researchers seem to have regarded the identification as a certainty. However, Kelsale is in Plomesgate Hundred as are other of the  places with the spelling variations. Others are in Blything and Loes Hundreds. No early market concourse has been identified in Kelsale parish. Norman Scarfe suggests that the market at Kelsale was transferred to Saxmundham (28), whose market charter is dated 1272. The relevant boundaries of the Hundred’s will be examined under a separate heading below.


Carahallam is a significant name. The first element of the name is from Latin ‘carus’, dear, beloved, esteemed. Thus we have ‘ Beloved’s hall’.’ Carus’ was applied to saints of exceptional holiness and popularity – compare the final phrase in the first line of the 13th century Metrical Life of Saint Hugh of Lincoln. “ nec caro care” [to Hugh the flesh was not dear] (29). An example of caro being used in the place name of a principal town is Cagliari, Sardinia, where, apparently, the beloved is Saint Saturn, a 5th century martyr (30). There is one particular saint connected with East Anglia likely to have qualified for ‘ beloved’ and that was Edmund, the martyred king of East Anglia. In view of the Carahallam having a market in the Bishop’s Hundred and a proposed identification with Bloodhall, that manor is  examined in greater detail below.




Today Bloodhall is represented by a derelict moat, of typical size for this part of Suffolk, located in Kenton Parish 400 yards South West of Kenton Hall. In the 1980s Bloodhall moat was in the garden of Bloodhall Cottages, which themselves are in Debenham Parish; the parish boundary follows one side of the moat. The cottages are identified as a single capital messuage of Debenham Butley Manor fee (31). The cottages were later converted back into a single residence now known as Bloodhall. The effect of the 1290 Statute of Quia Emptores is that manor boundaries may not be subsequently altered by splitting up or division. Thus it may be supposed  that the site of Bloodhall moat was already derelict in 1290 and was probably so in the 1170s, the likely time of the creation of Debenham Butley Manor  as an endowment by Ranulf de Glanville when he founded the Priory. It is highly unlikely that the new manor lands would have been created so near an existing operative manor seat.


John, son of William de Claydon, held Bloodhall Manor circa 1350 (33) and on his death it passed to Elizabeth, the wife of Sir Andrew Luttrell, who had grant of free warren here. The Luttrell family held the manor until about 1490, when it passed to Robert Cheke. Later holders were Margaret Blowers, Thomas Fastolfe, John Pitt and members of the Henniker family.


In 1395 and again in 1406, a moiety of the market of Debenham was pertaining to the manor in fee, the holding then of John Duke of Norfolk by service of 2d at Framlingham Castle: these legal phrases are repeated in a document of 1482. In 1513, the manor passed with a moiety of the market and fair of Debenham. In 1621, the manor held half of the toll house of Debenham (34). A 1621 Survey of the manor recites lands of the manor as being in Debenham, Aspall, Kenton, Ashfield, Thorpe, Winston and Crettingham (35). In the manorial records for the Debenham area, the following names with the element ‘blood’ have been traced – the dates shown are those of the earliest traced record

Blodfield 1439 (in 1461, part of the field was 33 acres in extent)

Blodfield Green 1621

Blodfield Green Wey 1621

Little Blodfield 1621

Bloodclose 1469

Bloodhall Meadow 1621

Bloodhall Pightle 1461

Bloodhallfeld 1461

Bloodhall alias Hawes Close 1621

Bloodhall Lane 1621

Bloodhallwey 1439

Bloodhallwood 1461

Longblode 1574

In addition there is Goreyland 1566 – Gore can relate a triangular plot but no triangle here has been noted. It is remarkable that so many holdings reflect the name of a manor whose site has apparently been derelict  for some 900 years.


The manor is said to take its name from a battle against the Danes – the evidence for this will be examined in a later note for record. In the 12th century there was a fashion for changing names associated with battles to incorporate a reference to blood. The Battle of Hastings was fought on a ridge arising out of Santlache Valley. The Norman French adapted the name to Senlac or Sanguelac , ‘Lake of Blood’ (37). Blood Hill or Bloody Knoll, Lynford, Norfolk is said to be where ancient battles were fought (38). Bloody Point, Shotley, seems to have been so called from a naval incident at the mouth of the Stour mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for 885.


Points of similarity between Bloodhall and Carahallam.

Both have a market in the king’s gift.

Carahallam was held by Roger Bigot, whose successor was the Duke of Norfolk who, in the 14th century, held Bloodhall, as tenant in chief. Wulfeva, who held a manor at Carahallam, had also a manor at Rishangles (possibly Woodhouse manor). The farmer at Rishangles Lodge has stated that one of his relatives had rented and ploughed Bloodfield turning up Anglo-Saxon swords. 


Carahallam identified with Bloodhall would mean that Bigot’s estate abutted onto Wineberga, an estate claimed by Bigot.

Bigot was a sheriff, as it seems was Norman of Carahallam. There is a property in Debenham named Sheres or Shires (i.e., Sheriffs), which can be traced back to 1405 (39) and has been thought to have a connection with the Sheriff. It would be logical for the Sheriff to hold a property near markets and a fair.

Bloodfield, of Bloodhall fee, is the reputed site of a battle against the Danes. It is proposed that the battle was that of Haeglesdon, where St Edmund was defeated, and subsequently martyred, in 869. The LDB name for the manor

‘Carahallam’ having later been changed to Bloodhall.




The LDB in connection with Wineberga refers to a total of 3 churches, all in the ‘soke’ of Hoxne. One of these churches could be that which was the episcopal see of Suffolk t.r.e., mentioned in the entry for Hoxne (LDB 18,1).

Carahallam, a manor not within the Hoxne ‘soke’, has one church. The sites of the four churches have not been identified but there are 5 possible sites within Debenham Parish –

(a)    Priory Field.

(b)    Near Brices Farm. The name Brice can mean ‘community’ (40). Foundations are reported as lying beneath an orchard there.

(c)    Near the junction of B 1077 and Bellwell Lane – stone foundations lie below the surface – part of a column shaft found there.

(d)    Chapel Field, near Derrybrook Farm.

(e)    Chapel Field, near the track leading to Ulveston Hall.

The LDB mentions two priests in Ulveston who may be associated with chapels in the two Chapel Fields. The compiler of the LDB may not have differentiated between a church and a chapel.




Both Carahallam and Wineberga are listed in the LDB as being in the Bishop’s Hundred. Kenton Village is in Loes Hundred. A major reorganisation of the hundred boundaries around Debenham occurred in the 12th Century. A new Half Hundred, called Thredling, was set up consisting of the parishes of Debenham, Winston, Pettaugh, Ashfield and Framsden. The earliest reference to the new hundred is in the Pipe Rolls for 1168, where there is a reference to “Trelling de Claidon”. In 1188 the Pipe Rolls refer to “tertia pars de Trillinge Hundrede”. A book of Ely written about 1170 (40) refers to the ’trilling of Winstou’ (here the spelling Winstou could be Winston as u and n are easily confused in medieval writings). In some reference books, Thredling is incorrectly given as derived from ‘third’. Both the Shorter Oxford English and Chambers Dictionaries give trilling as being one of three, thus a triplet is described as a trilling. The name of the Bishop’s Hundred was changed to Hoxne Hundred at an unknown date but by 1191 (42). The alteration may well have taken place at the same time as the creation of Thredling Half Hundred. The change to Hoxne Hundred may well have been triggered by an alteration in the boundaries. An examination of the Hundred boundaries indicates that Carahallam and Wineberga (I.e., Bloodhall and Kenton Hall) were hived off from the Bishop’s Hundred to Loes Hundred thus creating the long thin piece of Loes Hundred, stretching westwards from the main block, shown in early maps (see extracts from these given in the Map Appendix B). This would associate the Bigot holdings with his other lands contained in Loes Hundred. A Study of the Place-names of East Suffolk by Cynthia Baron (located in the Seckford collection of Woodbridge Library) attributes Loes as being derived from Old Norse ‘hlose’, pigsty. More likely it is derived from O.E.’hleow’ ‘hleo’ a shelter, protector, and ‘gehleotha’, companion – the O.E. poem, The Wanderer, line 31, uses geholena meaning companion. The companions of the king became the nobles and, later, the earls. Roger Bigot was an ancestor of the Bigods, Earls of Norfolk, whose seat was Framlingham Castle.




Our main knowledge of the origin of the original see of Suffolk is from a man who was in East Anglia in the late 7th or early 8th century. He eventually became a monk in Jarrow, where he narrated events in East Anglia to the Venerable Bede who included them in his History of the English Church and People completed in 731 (43). About 627 Bishop Felix established his see at Dommoc (44). Felix was assisted by Fursey, who had come from Ireland. Fursey founded a monastery built on a site given by King Sigbert. It was pleasantly situated in some woods close to the sea, within the grounds of a castle called Cnobheresburg. Subsequently King Anna (died 654) and his nobles endowed the house with finer buildings (43). About 680, the see of Dommoc was split, part being transferred to (North) Elmham, Norfolk (45). Dommoc, Elmham and all the other East Anglian religious houses disappear from the records in the 9th century, being apparently desecrated during the Danish raid of 869. Elmham emerges again about 955, was moved to Thetford in 1071 and from there to Norwich in 1095.



Dommoc was formerly equated with Dunwich but S.E.Rigold writing in the Journal of the  British Archaeological Association (46) examined the evidence and concluded, convincingly, that the seat was not at Dunwich. The early references to the diocese are –

   Dommoc. Felix “accepit sedem episcopatus  in civitate Domnoc” in various copies of Bede’s History, but  an 8th century version, the only one of English origin, reads “in civitati Dommoc”. The 9th century English translation of Bede’s History has “Dommoc Ceaster”.

   Dommuce. The Peterborough version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Entry for 798.

   Dommucae. Act of the Council of Clovesho of 803.

   Dummuciae. Profession of obedience to Archbishop Ceolnoth (died 870), but the Profession is known from a 12th century manuscript.

There are further variants of the spelling in later manuscripts.


From the word ‘civitate’, it may be deduced that the location was in a town, probably of Roman origin. The word ‘ceaster’ indicates that there was a fortification there. In the Will of Bishop Theodred, dated 942 x 951, grants of estates at Horham and Aethelington are made to God’s community at “St Aethelbrichtes” church at Hoxne and a grant of £10 is made for distribution at his “biscopriche” at Hoxne (47). Bishop Aelfric in a Will dated 1035 x 1037.


Grants to the priests at Hoxne fenland worth 1000 (? Pence) (48). St Aethelbrichte was a Kentish prince martyred with his brother St Ethelred in 640 and was related to Sigebert and to Anna, both Kings of East Anglia. It is reasonable to assume that when Anna and his nobles further endowed the monastery founded by Fursey, a dedication to St Aethelbrichte was arranged by way of saying thank you.


Two finds relating to Dommoc have come from Eye, namely –

(a)    A 9th century seal of Bishop Ethelwald, now in the British Museum.

(b)    The Red Book of Eye, alleged to be the Gospel used by St Felix. It is supposed to have been reported in 1539, when it was described as having been written in large Lombardic letters. It is stated to have been passed to Eye Corporation. However, the Corporation in the 19th century allowed the book to be sent to Brome Hall, where it was cut up for game labels (49).




The name of most of the early cathedrals implies that they are associated with a fortification. Thus –

Canterbury. Contwarbure (in 851). The British form of the name, Durobernia (circa 849) is translated by      Ekwall as ‘swamp by the fort’.



Durham. Dunhom circa 1000.

Exeter. Escanceaster (876).


Peterborough. Burh (972-92), Berg (DB)

London. Lundenceaster, circa 890.


Winchester. Wintancaester and Wintonia (9th century).

St Albans. Verlamacaestia (circa730) Werlameceaster (circa 890).

Salisbury. Sorviodunum in the Antonine Itinerary and Seaorbyrig in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles.

York. Eoforwicceaster (circa 890).


Of the major ancient cathedrals only Hereford, Lichfield, Lincoln, Oxford, Ripon and Wells had names not implying a fortification, and some of these are known to have been near fortified sites.

[the words ceaster, and its derivates caester and chester, bury (Saxon), burgh (Anglian) and dun (Celtic) all denote fortified sites]

None of these cities is on the coast. However, Chichester was formerly at Selsey: this see seems to have originated in a hermitage.


Other scholars suggestions for Dommoc.


S.E.Rigold, when demolishing the Dunwich theory, suggested Felixstowe as an alternative. This was based on the Chronicle of Bartholomew Cotton written in the 13th century. Cotton came from near Stowmarket and was a monk of Norwich. There is a Roman fort, now submerged in the sea, by the “Dip” at Felixstowe (50). The Felixstowe hypothesis is supported by J. Fairclough and S.J.Plunket (51). However, Felixstowe is Burch in the LDB and the Felix element in the name was, no doubt, derived from the dedication to St Felix of a monastery founded by Roger Bigod soon after 1066.

Ekwall derives Dommoc from Celtic ‘dubno’, deep, but seems uncertain (51). Another possible derivation is from Latin ‘dommus’ a house, and O.E. ‘oc’, oak, thus “house built of oak”. To men like Felix and Fursey, used to stone as a construction material, a wooden church would have been most unusual, but there is no local stone in East Anglia.




Whinburgh, Norfolk, has a deer park. Early maps show a deer park near Wineberga (Kenton Hall). The maps are inexact but the precise location of the park is disclosed by an examination of the 1:25000 O.S. map (Sheet TM 16), which discloses a circular shape between Camp Green and Hill Farm, 1000 yard due south of Bloodhall moat. The boundaries, in part, still consist of unusually thick hedges (e.g., near Crows Hall and near Hill Farm). When the Field Name Survey for Debenham Parish was carried out, it was noticed that none of the usual manors had land within the circular shape. It is possible that this shape is referred to in a jury’s return of 1251 relating to the Bishop of Ely’s manor of Wetheringsett contained in the Ely Coucher (53) under the heading Woods, “A small park there of 200 ac., with the ‘launds’ “. No survey of Wetheringsett Manor is known to exist but the manor held other lands in Debenham Parish. The park diameter is approx 1000 yards and it contains approx. 162.27 Imperial acres. The Wetheringsett return of 1251 uses a perch of 15’6”. 200 acres of this measurement equals 176.5 Imperial acres. The difference between the 1251 record and the perceived acreage is 14½ acres. The round figure of 200 in the 1251 record indicates an approximation and the perceived shape is not an exact circle so the figures may be said to correspond. A 6.2.1360 Commission of Oyer and Terminer to Thomas de Holbrok, Gilbert de Debenham and John de Sudbury touching those who have at divers times past broke into the park of Wetheringsett, parish of the Bishop of Ely’s temporalities and entered the warren there, hunted in there and carried away deer from the park and hares, conies, pheasants and partridges from the warren. The keeper of the park appointed by the king in 1357 was a yeoman of Debenham (54)


No dates can be allocated for the park. Within the circle shape, there is a drift way leading N.E. from Camp Green and lining up with the road heading N.E. from Hill Farm. A Roman coin has been found in the drift way (55). It would seem that the park was created over an existing field system at some post Roman time but before 1066. The park is shown on Robert Morden’s map of circa 1694 but this map may have copied earlier precedents rather than have been surveyed anew.    




One of the entries for Wineberga in the LDB (6,308) quotes Wineberga as being a ‘beruita’ in the same reckoning as Stradbroke. Beruita is rendered by R.Welldon Finn, in “ Domesday Book: A Guide”, as berewick but the Phillimore edition of the LDB translates as ‘outlier’. A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary 14th Ed. C.U.P. gives, ‘berewic’, barley yard, demesne farm [berewick].


In the lands of Robert Malet, under Debenham, Brictmer, a freeman, held an outlier (buita) in (the lands of) Kenton t.r.e. There seems to be a connection here between Debenham’s berewick in Kenton and Wineberga (as identified with Kenton Hall) an outlier of Stradbroke, the two berewicks lying together. The reasoning behind the outliers is not known. It is not possible to ascertain how much of the Stradbroke entry in fact relates to Wineberga.


Welldon Finn (as above p 27) considers that demesne lands are exempt from land tax (geld), and that a large number of manors had at varying times obtained partial exemption from land tax, many being royal manors or belonging to the church. Exempted land was often described as being ‘in demesne’ (in domino). As previously stated a law of William I exempted demesne land from paying ‘Peter’s pence’.


F.E.Harmer (Anglo-Saxon Wills 2Ed. 1989 p 40) says that the berewick in the 11th  century was normally an outlying estate attached to the central manor. The soil of the berewick was considered to belong to the land of the manor of which it formed part.


Berewicks tend to be on the Hundred boundaries or even in another Hundred. Other examples from the Suffolk entries in the LDB are –

              Main entry/ berewick                                       Hundred

21,80     Melton/Bawdsey                                              Both in Wilford

1,100     (E) Bergholt/Shelley                                          Both in Samford

1,101     (E) Bergholt/Bentley                                         Both in Samford

6,187     Staverton/Bing                                                  Loes/Wilford

14,153   (B) St Edmunds/Fornham St Genevian               Bury/Thedwestry

26,128   Wrentham/Henstead                                         Both in Blything

43,1       Houghton/Fenstead                                           Both in Babergh

43/2       Cavendish/ Coddenham                                    Babergh/Bosmere

65,1       Badmondisfield/Denston                                   Both in Risbridge

EE1        Brightlingsea/Harkstead                                   Tendring, Essex/Samford




To conform with precedent, the church having the Bishop’s seat, would have been staffed by clergy living in a monastery close by, the monastery under the control of a Prior. Bede writes (56) that Fursey, who came from Ireland, built a monastery on a site given by King Sigbert of East Anglia. The site was pleasantly situated in some woods close to the sea, within the grounds of a castle that the English called Cnobheresburg, meaning Cnobhere’s town. Subsequently Anna, King of the province, and his nobles endowed the house with fine buildings and gifts. Fursey was assisted by Bishop Felix, a Burgundian, who had come to him via Kent and provided him with teachers and masters from the school at Canterbury. Sigbert wished to follow the custom of Gaul and he founded a school for the education of boys.


The Will, dated 942 x 961, of Theodred, Bishop of London, bequeathed estates at Horham and Eylyngtone [Aethelington] to the community at St Aethelbricht’s church at Hoxne. St Aethelbricht was related to King Anna, thus



____ ⌡____

⌡                 ⌡

Redwald    Eni

                    ⌡                                        Ealdbald

                Anna (died 653)    ___________⌡__________

                    ⌡                       ⌡                                         ⌡

           St Sexburga m Eorcenbehrt                          Eurmenred


                                                                           ⌡                               ⌡

                                                                St Ethelred                St Aethelbricht

                                                                  (died 640)                    (died 640)


It is reasonable to assume that the dedication to St Aethelbricht was arranged by way of saying thank you to Anna, who, with his nobles, had endowed the monastery, and that the community mentioned in Theodred’s Will were living in the monastery. The words in the Will ‘church at Hoxne’ could well mean ‘in Hoxne Manor’ rather than in the Parish of Hoxne. However, the assumption should be treated with caution.


The name Cnobheresburg is derived from ‘Nob’ (variety of knob), head; O.E. ‘here’, an army, a host, a great company, and ‘burg’, a fortification. The translation army is misleading, as in early times, when the warriors went to war they were accompanied by a baggage train consisting of most of the non combatant populace, who would have watched any battle from afar. Thus Cnobheresburg is ‘ the head of the whole people’s fortification, or, as we would say today ‘King’s Castle’.


The name Cnobheresburg draws attention to the Debenham area manor of Harborough, the earliest traced version is Herdeberge recorded in a Feet of Fines dated 1212. A major tenement of the manor is called Nobbys. In the 14th century Bellwell Lane (formerly The Upper Kenton Road) was called Knobbysyngeweye (61).




Copinger in his Manors of Suffolk gives the style of the manor as Harborough Hall cum Aspall or cum Debenham. The location of Harborough Hall, as such, is not known. There is, of course, Aspall Hall, which has an unusual round moat. Debenham Hall is thought, on the evidence of abuttals to have originally been on a moated site near Esthers Barn. The manor hall was later moved to a site on the other side of Gracechurch Street/Stowmarket Road, at one time called Goslings and subsequently renamed Debenham Hall. The earliest traced reference to Harborough is in a Feet of Fines of 1212 listed by the pipe Roll Society under Norfolk (57), there the name of the manor lord is given as William de Herdeberge, where Roger Bigot sells two fields in Molton, one to Lambert, the Teuton (Lamberton Theuthonicum), and the other to Bertram de Verdun. Molton, Lamberts and Berts are all names subsequently traced in Debenham Parish (many references) (62).


An escheat of 7 Hen IV (1405) associates Dickleburgh, Norfolk; Aspall and Harborough Manors (63). In 1356 Acquitances were received by the Sheriff of Norfolk concerning the manors of Grymeston. Aspall and Debenham for William de la Pole and his wife. Three lords of Harborough Manor, namely,Sir John Oldcastle. Sir John Major and Edward Brooke de Cobham, chevalier, were summoned to Parliament.


The 1438 manor Rental has a reference to an 8 acre tenement called ‘Nobleland’. The rental also records that a number of tenants are due for ‘castleward’ (64). No doubt the ward payment is in respect of Eye Castle.


The transition from ‘her’ to ‘har’ is common: it has occurred, for example, at Harwich, Harefield, Middx., and Harlow.. Margaret Gelling in Signposts to the Past (65), with a plea for extreme caution, quotes the name Harborough as indicating ‘earth fort’, mentioning Harborough Banks in Lapworth, Wa., where there is a known prehistory earthwork. However, Gelling is relying on a 1220 reference to Erdbyr as indicating a derivation from O.E. earth-burgh, whereas from the Debenham studies it seems that Erdbyr is a contraction of Heredebergh – byr and bergh are dialect words for fortification. Gelling also suggests a possible confusion with the word  ‘bor’ harbour, from O.E. here – beorg, which may refer to an ancient building or encampment. Harborough Manor lands include an earthwork near Hill House, at the bottom of the lane leading up to Crows Hall (66).


About 1984, I was twice referred by men maintaining hedges and road verges to the junction of the B 1077 and the Upper Kenton Road’, now called Bellwell Lane, as ‘ Ethelbert’s Corner (phonetic spelling). Not being then aware of the significance of the name, I did not record the names of my informants. The local farmer (Red House Farm) was not aware of the name but drew attention to a site near the corner where he was unable to plough because of stone (? foundations) near the surface. A part of a column shaft, such as might have come from an ecclesiastical building lay embodied in the roadside at the corner. If in fact Ethelbert’s Corner is a reference to St Aethelbert, there is a possible identification with the monastery founded by Fursey pleasantly situated in some woods close to the sea, within the grounds of a castle called Cnobheresburg. The area in question would have been wooded and is near Bellwell Woods, which are known to have been more extensive. Bede describes the site as being close to the sea. Close is a comparative word. In Anglo-Saxon times, it seems that the tidal estuaries were regarded as the sea since river names change when they become tidal. Thus the River Pant becomes the Blackwater, the River Gipping becomes the Orwell and the River Frome becomes the Alde/Or. There is no evidence that the River Deben was anciently so called below the tidal limit at Ufford/Wilford – the tidal estuary of the Deben was, in the 19th century, called the Woodbridge River and the buoy marking the entrance across the bar is still called the Woodbridge Haven Buoy. Ethelbert Corner is just 10 miles from the tidal limit  at Ufford or some three hours walk. In the 7th century it is estimated that at Sutton Hoo  the Estuary was at least one meter deeper than it is today, in which case the tidal limit would have been even further up stream.


Theodred, Bishop London, bequeathed an estate at Horham to God’s  community at St Aethelbrichte’s church at Hoxne. The Will is dated between 942 and 951 (68). The Townsmen of Horham held land in the vicinity of Red House Farm (near Ethelbert’s Corner). Theodred in his Will also mentions his Episcopal demesne at Hoxne [and ic an at Hoxne at mine biscopriche that erfe that at Hoxne stand]. This reference to Hoxne seems to corroborate the LDB entry.


The Will of Bishop Aelfric, Bishop of the East Angles, (died circa 1038) bequeathed fenland to the priests at Hoxne worth 1000 [pence] (69). There is much fenland along the Deben valley: the hamlet Fen Street is between Debenham and Winston.


The monastery in the grounds of a castle does not mean within the walls of the castle. In early times an area was set aside as responsible for maintaining the castle.  The Honour of Eye was the area of such grounds in respect of the Norman castle at Eye and stretched for at least 7 miles south of Eye.


Attempts have been made to identify Cnobheresburg with Burgh, near Great Yarmouth, because a Roman fortification called Gariannonum is located there. Sir Frank Stenton (69) did not wholly accept this identification and the site would probably have been described as next rather than near the sea.




The village name Kenton appears in the LDB as Chenetuna and Kenetuna. In the charter Rolls of 1252 it is Kingeston. According to The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names (74) the name is derived from O.E. Cyne-tun ‘royal manor’ or Cena’s or Cyna’s tun. Kenton, Devon is on the River Kenn, but as Kenton, Tyne and Wear is near Kingston Park and Kenton, Mddx. Is near Kingsbury, it seems that the origin of the name of Kenton, Suffolk from ‘royal manor’ is correct. Thus there are three royal estates, which form a block about 1½ miles wide – Kenton village; Wineberga  (identified with Kenton Hall) and Blood Hall (identified with Carahallam).




In 1304 Walter de Langton, Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, granted Harborough Manor in exchange to Thomas de Grantaut (?Grauncourt) and Agnes his wife and their heirs.


In 1304 Walter de Langton, Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, levied a fine of Aspall, Debenham and Brampton Manors. In 1303, the Bishop granted Aspall Manor to Thomas de Grauncourt and Agnes his wife for life with remainder to the Bishop’s heirs. From the Close Rolls of 1316 it appears that the Bishop had demised Aspall Manor with that of Debenham to Matthew de Huddescham as well as to Thomas de Grauncourt and Alice his wife (70).


It appears from the above entries that the Manor of Harborough cum Aspall cum Debenham was, prior to the early 14th century transactions, in the personal estate of the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry. In the LDB (6,201) ‘Brictmar’ (translated as Brictmer), a freeman under the patronage of Edric, held 30 acres in Aspall as a manor. Florence of Worcester reported that in 1039 Brihtmaer Bishop of Lichfield died. It could be that Brictmer (variously spelt) was a family name. The bishopric of Lichfield was raised in status to an archbishopric by King Offa of Mercia (788-803) (71). The archbishopric was abolished in 802 (72). The South Folk came within the Mercian orbit vide the Tribal Hidage (73). Debenham was at one time within the Lichfield administrative area and it is a speculation that the acquisition of a Suffolk estate by the head of the diocese for his personal estate dates back to that time and that the estate was inherited by his successors through the ages.





The LDB entry for Stradbroke, which includes the reference to the Wineberga berewick (6,308), lists Robert de Glanville as holding 4 freemen with 20 acres. The addition in the entry of the words “in the same assessment” implies that the item is in Wineberga and not Stradbroke town. This would correlate with the 12th century Ranulf de Glanville who donated land in Debenham to Butley Priory.




The name Wetheringsett is significant in considering the early Anglo-Saxon period in the Debenham area. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names gives the earliest forms of the name as –

Weddreringsete. In the 1023-50 Diplomatarium anglicum.

Wetheringsete. Anglo-Saxon Wills 1043-5.

Wederingesete. Circa 1050 Codex Diplomaticus Sevi, Saxonicici 907

Wederingaseta. LDB.

Wetheringeset. 1201 Cura Regis Rolls.

The Dictionary continues “Perhaps ‘the (ge)set or fold of Wedr’s people’. But the place is not very far from Wetherden, and the first el. Of the name might be O.E. Wetheringas ‘people of Wetherden’”.

Wetherden in West Suffolk is some 8 miles from Wetheringsett.

It is more likely that the name should be split up –

Wedd .” A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary” gives wedd, a pledge, agreement, covenant, security.[Wulfstan’s Adress to theEnglish (early 11th century) uses wedd in this sense]. Wedd was still known recently in the City of London, where members of The Stock Exchange regarded “my word is my bond”. Wedd = bond or agreement. A number of 19th and 20th century jobbers took the word as part of their trading name – Wedd and Owen; Wedd Durlacher, Wedd Jefferson and, more recently, Barclays de Zoete Wedd. The word is, of course underlying the modern ‘wedding’ – before Christian priests declared that a wedding was a sacrament, a wedding was a matter of agreement between the parties concerned.

er. As in Modern English, er personalises the preceding element.

ing. As in Modern English, ing = pertaining to.

sett. Abode, seat or place of residence.

Thus Wetheringsett means  ‘The abode or seat of those who hold by agreement’.

The nomenclature draws attention to the story narrated in Nennius 46 that the Anglo-Saxon warriors were invited in by Vortigern to help with defence and were allocated lands.


Wetheringsett Manor was given to Ely Abbey in the time of Edward the Confessor.


According to a 1251 jury’s return in the Ely Coucher (C.U.L. EDR G/3/27), Wetheringsett Manor had liberty of tumbril, gallows, view of frankpledge , of vessels and other measures of pleas for the prevention of distress and of all pleas which the Sheriff can plead, by writ of the king or without; and of free warren; and of escheats of beasts called wayfs. [In frankpledge, all males over 12 were placed in groups of about 10 whose members were held responsible for each other’s   lawful behaviour]. The same source lists carriage service –

a)      Short to Hitcham, Ipswich, Diss, Stowmarket, Framelingham, Pulham, Barking, Bramforde, Ratylesdene and to “other

        similar  places”.

b)      Long to Ely, Balsham, Glemsford, Hartest, Brigham, Shipdham, Dereham, Norwich, Dunwich, St. Edmunds, Colchester,

        Feltwell, Brandon and Northwold, “and other similar places”.

Such an extensive carriage service must surely have been in respect of the Debenham markets and fair. [One marvels at such facilities available in the mid 13th century compared with the inferior services available today]

The same source lists two knights’ fees held in “Ulveston Debeam”.


Low Road (formerly Hays Waye and Haywardes Waye); Gracechurch Street (formerly Kolersweye [in 1361 Tithe Award]), Cherry Tree Green, but not the land on either side, were identified as in Wetheringsett Manor by the Debenham History Society Group studying field names.







6,70      Aldringham [Alrincha]

6,76      Bedingfield

6,77              “

31,5              “

75,5              “

6,311    Chippenhall [Cirbehala]              The jurisdiction is in the Bishop’s Manor of Hoxne but Edric

held half from Bishop Aelmer.

6,71      Denham

14,161   Horham                                    St Edmund’s (has) the patronage. The jurisdiction (is) in Hoxne.

64,3         “

75,3         “

75.4      Instead

6,72      Mendham

6,313          “

8,37            “                                         A villager, small holders and 3 men cited. They could not sell the

land; nevertheless, the jurisdiction (is) in Hoxne.

8,42            “

21,46    (Monk Soham)                         

31,3                  “

44,2      Syleham [Seilam]                      This entry refers also to a manor with the jurisdiction by Ulf.

1,92      Weybread                                 Land of the King, belonging to the Realm, which Roger Bigot

keeps in Suffolk.

6,312           “                                        A complex entry with insertions in the manuscript.

8,36      Whittingham

6,308    Wineberga [Winebga beruita]     of 17 freemen the jurisdiction is in the Bishop’s manor

            in the same reckoning and          of Hoxne; Edric held half from the Bishop.

            assessment as Stradbroke

21,45    Wineberga [Winebga]                Roger Bigot claims this by the King’s gift, but the Abbot of Ely

established his claim against him. Now Roger holds (it) through a postponement. – this entry is covered in full in the main text.



Hartismere Hundred.

18,6      Yaxley and Thrandeston.           Bishop Aelmer held 1 carucate of land as a manor t.r.e. It

belongs to the church of Hoxne.




Collation .  Peter Northeast assembled a collection of early references to the Debenham area, translating , where necessary. A copy of the collation is held by The Suffolk Record Office.




t.r.e.     Time of King Edward. The Domesday Book does not recognise Harold as having been king. Best translated as before 1066.

LDB     Little Domesday Book. The Domesday Book has two volumes. The Suffolk entries are in the second smaller book. In 1986, Phillimore & Co., Ltd., Shopwyke Manor Barn, Chichester, West Sussex P020 2BG published a reproduction of the text and a translation. For the purposes of this Note For Record that edition and the reference system adapted therein have been used.


1)      Debenham. Its market, fair, church, halls and other antiquities Claude Morley, Ipswich. 1922.

2)      An unpublished translation by Peter Northeast is held by the Debenham History Society. The original rolls are in the SRO Ipswich.

3)      Collation 3.

4)      Samuel Dove’s Debenham. Debenham V.A.G. 1986 p 112 See also p.111 and 135.

5)      Ipswich SRO S1/2/31. 6 folio 18. (Collation 31 page 7).

6)      Known from abuttals, e.g., Debenham Butley Manor Survey 1621 folio 2 – here the demesne land lies next to Aspall Road.

7)      The Buildings of England. Suffolk. N.Pevsner. Penguin Books 2nd Ed.1974. p.155.

8)      See Suffolk and Norfolk. M.R.James. J.M.Dent & Sons 1930 p 116.

9)      Other entries for markets are at 1,1;12;40;97. 6,191. 7,3. 25,1. 42,2.

10)   Halsbury’s Laws of England 4th Ed. Vol 29 under heading Markets and Fairs.

11)   Discovering Antique Maps. A.G.Hodgkiss. Shire Publications Ltd. Edition of 1981 p 49-50.

12)   British Borough Charters 1042-1216. Cambridge 1913 p. lxvi

13)   An Historical Atlas of Suffolk. Suffolk County Council 1988.

14)   J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd. P 96.

15)   Vol IV p. 53 et seq.

16)   History and Guide St. Peter and St. Paul Hoxne. Circa 1980. No publisher given. p 3.

17)   For a fuller explanation see Anglo-Saxon England, Sir Frank Stenton. Oxford 3rd Ed. p. 494 et seq. F.W.Maitland in Domesday Book and Beyond (CUP 1897 reprinted by Collins Fontana Library. First issued 1960, 3rd impression Dec 1965 p. 114 et seq.) examines sake and soke in yet more detail.

18)   LDB. 19,8.

19)   The moat at Prestley Wood, Great Stukeley is of a similar plan but is smaller (approx 200x150 yards) – see Domestic Moats of the Middle Ages. Cambridge Shire Archaeology. Information on Whinburgh from Portrait of Norfolk, David Xaxby. Robert Hale 1977 and Norfolk Shell Guide, Wilhelmina Hardy. Faber & Faber 4th Ed. 1982.

20)   Copinger, Manors of Suffolk Vol . IV. p. 297.

21)   Samuel Dove’s Debenham. Debenham V.A.G. Lavenham Press 1986 p.3.

22)   Copinger (as 20) p.296.

23)   Ibid p 297.

24)   Sir Andrew Luttrell had a grant of free warren here in 1395 including moiety of Debenham Market pertaining to the Manor of Bloodhall in fee. Copinger’s Manors of Suffolk Vol. VII under Bloodhall Manor.

25)   Patent Rolls 1316 – Copinger’s Manors of Suffolk Vol.VII p.138.

26)   LDB 7,3.

27)   LDB 6,69;73 7,34-36;72;74;132.

28)   Suffolk in the Middle Ages. The Boydell Press 1986 p. 153.

29)   The Metrical Life of Saint Hugh, translated by Charles Garton. Honeywood Press 1986 p. 6. In the translation ‘cara’ is rendered as precious.

30)   See Unknown Sardinia and Unknown Corsica. George Pilment. Johnson 1972 and the Book of Saints A.C.Black Ltd., 1921

31)   Capital messuage called Bartlotts, Debenham Butley Manor Survey of 1621, f 17 and 18.

32)   Collation 31 Manor of Bloodhall f. 1.

33)   IPM. Vol. IX 390. Collation 4.

34)   See Copinger’s Manors of Suffolk Vol VII, Collation 2 and 18, and the sale particulars of the Prettyman and Henniker Collection of Suffolk Lordships of Manors published in 1988 by Strutt and Parker and Manorial Research Ltd. p. 43.

35)   Collation  31 Ipswich SI/2/31.6.

36)   Samuel Dove’s Debenham (as 21) p. 119 (original text probably written in the 1840’s.) East Anglian Miscellany 1909 p. 6. Local newspaper article of 30.8.1919.

37)   1066, The Year of the Conquest, David Howarth. Dorset Press 1977 p. 169.

38)   E.Anglian Arch. Report No.12 p. 11.

39)   Harl Rolls G29 – a compotus roll for Harborough Manor. There are many subsequent references to the property, which approximates to Moores Close, Debenham.

40)   The Liber Eliensis dated to 1170 by The Battle of Malden, Editor E.V.Gordon. Methuen Educational Ltd., 1937 but dated late 12th century by Seirol Evans  in The Medieval Estate of the Cathedral of Ely, published by the Dean and Chapter of Ely 1973.

41)   Liberties and Communities of Medieval England. Helen M. Cam Merlin Press. 1963. pp. 82, 111, 169,258.

42)   Phillimore Edition of the Suffolk Domesday Book paragraph on the Hundreds and Half hundreds following the general notes.

43)   See H.E. III ch. 19.

44)   H.E. II ch. 15

45)   H.E. IV 5. Elmham, as such, is first mentioned by William of Malmesbury. See East Anglian Archaeology Report No. 9. Norfolk Museums Service. 1980.

46)   3 Ser XXIV (1961) pp. 55-59 and 1974, 37 pp. 97-102.

47)   Anglo-Saxon Wills CUP 1930

48)   Ibid.Professor Whitlock, the editor, translates ‘biscopriche’ as episcopal demesne but there seems no valid reason for not taking the literal ‘the bishops riches’ as the modern bishopric ‘the office and jurisdiction of a bishop’.

49)   See Guide to the History of Eye. J.E.Perry and J.W. Arriens 1981., and The Dunwich Story, Alan Jobson. The Southwold Press. 1951.

50)   As 46).

51)   PSIAH XXXIX pt4 2000 p. 449 et seq.

52)   The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names, under Dunwich.

53)   COL EDR G/3/27 See Collation 3.

54)   Wetheringsett cum Brockford Early Days – 1800. D.J.Lawton 1981.

55)   Verbal from Mr. Drury of Camp Green Farm. Ipswich Museum identified the coin but did not record it. Mr Drury sent the coin to his son in Canada. The driftway is clearly shown on the 1837 Tithe Map as part of Debenham Mead, plot 594. The boundary hedges were taken up in the mid 20th century.

56)   H.E. iii. 19

57)   Pipe Roll Soc.. Vol.  LXX New Series Vol. .XXXII. 1956 at page 133 under Norfolk.

58)   The Rental is quoted in full in Collation 11. The marriage particulars are from Copinger’s Manors of Suffolk Vol. VII. p 139.

59)   The early records are stated in Copinger  Vol. VII. Walter de Langton, Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry died possessed of the manor p. 314.

60)   Brictmar (syn Brihtmar) had extensive holdings elsewhere and, it is argued, is the earliest named alderman of the City of London. For his connections with Lichfield see English Historical Documents Vol. II. Florence of Worcester gives Brihtmaer as a Bishop of Lichfield who died in 1039, possibly a relative of the holder of a manor in Aspall. In London Brihtmar is associated with Gracechurch and Aspall church is dedicated to St. Mary of Grace.                                                                                          

The LDB references are 6,201;221. 16,48.

Langton and Limesi are names of early Bishops of  Lichfield and these names are also associated with Harborough Manor.

61)   Ulveston Manor C.R. 17.5.1480, from an unpublished translation by Peter Northeast.

62)   Walter Bert is the first named holder in Harborough Manor Rental of 1438. Substantial fields called Lamberts and Berts are listed in the Surveys of 1621. Molton is variously listed in connection with Debenham, the name, doubtless, derived from Millton. The mill would have been a water mill – Mellfield abuts onto Lamberts to the north of the parish and there is there a water course with deep lagoons. Because of modern work by Anglian Water Board it is not now possible to say that the lagoons were once part of a mill complex but it is likely. Bigot appears to be selling fields to help fund the rebuilding of Framlingham Castle completed not later than 1213 (Framlingham Castle HMSO 1959 p. 9).

63)   All 3 manors held of John Oldcastle . Samuel Dove’s Debenham. Debenham V.A.G. 1986 p.36.

64)   Collation 11.

65)   J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd., 1978 p.147.

66)   Competus Roll of 1404. Harl Roll G 29 as translated by Peter Northeast.

67)   Anglo-Saxon England 3 Ed. OUP. 1971 p. 528.

68)   Known from abuttals cited in Scotnetts with Le Haugh Manor  survey of 1621. [Ipswich S1/2/31.6] folio 18v, which refers to an Extent of 26 Hen VI [1447-8]. See also Anglo-Saxon Wills CUP 1930 p.3,5 and Notes p. 99,102.

69)   Anglo-Saxon Wills (as 68) p. 71-3 and Notes p. 183-4.

70)   Copinger Manors of Suffolk Vol .VII.

71)   Social England Ed. H.D. Traill. Cassel & Co., Ltd. 1894 Vol.1 p. 161.

72)   Encylopedia Brittannica , Inc.

73)   In Search of the Dark Ages. Michael  Wood. BBC 1981 p. 82.




Aspall, Stonham Aspal. Old Newton


This note maintains that there has been a substantial movement of people from the Old Hall Estate in the parish of Aspall to Old East End in the parish of Stonham Aspal and Old Newton.


The area of the parish of Aspall formerly extended from the Debenham\Wetheringsett Road south to Gracechurch Street, Debenham. At some time between 1086 (Domesday Book) and the last quarter of the 14th century the church of St Mary of Grace was moved from Gracechurch Street, Debenham, to its present location in Aspall. (1)


      Today Old Hall is a part moated farmhouse on the Debenham to Wetheringsett Road (TM16 155645). The present house contains 17th century work. There is no evidence that this was ever a manor. Farmed in the 18th and 19th centuries by the Dove family. Now held by the Last family. In Ulveston Manor Survey of 1575 referred to as “Le Old Halle” – this survey quotes a deed of 26.9.1378 mentioning “Old Halle”. The present farm land extends south to Stony Lane. Formerly they included a triangular wood called “Le Haugh” containing the springs giving rise to the River Deben but the wood was transferred to the Ulveston Hall Estate in the 1990s. Among the farm lands there are a number of green lanes. There is no evidence of any wells along the lanes. The remains of cottages which formerly stood at  Bloodwood were bulldozed out in the 1980.s (TM  168637). The settlement of Ulveston, abutting on to Old Hall Estate, was deserted in the 1940’s. Ruins of cottages there still exist. Ulveston Hall was reoccupied in the 1980’s. Mr Horace Smith, who was born at Ulveston told me that they relied for washing water on ponds and the Hall’s moat but drinking water was brought from one of four town wells which was located at 24 Gracechurch Street, Debenham.


In the LDB the Old Hall Estate is called “Olden”. The ‘en’ is the old English plural. The estate is still colloquially referred to as ‘Olds. Olden seems to be an area where there are numerous smallholdings held by individuals. Part of Olden is stated to be land of the Vavassors (2), where 4 freemen are stated not to have belonged to any revenue. The notes to the Phillimore edition of LDB say the term Vavassors is rare in the Domesday records, being found only here, in Buckinghamshire, and in the Isle of Wight. The term is defined as undertenants but my contacts in Normandy and say that there the term indicates holders who are outside the manorial system. The LDB specified in respect of Olden a total of 48 freemen and three bordars (3) and states that “others hold there”.


The LDB indicates connections already existing between Olden, (Old) East End (4) and (Old) Newton. Part of Olden is held by Alwin (he held 2 freemen and 11 acres) and it is stated to be in the same assessment as (Old) Newton. Alwin holds 90 acres in (Old) East End as a manor (5). Aelfric held 1 carucate in (Old) Newton as a manor t.r.e. (6) and 1½ acres in Olden (7) and a further 16 acres there (8). However, Aelfric is a name frequently met with in the LDB and it cannot be established as to whether the references are to the same man.


The Victoria County History records that in 1650 there was a leet in Coddenham called Olden (9), but says that the location of Olden is lost: it is now submitted that there can be no doubt that Olden is the Old Hall Estate. The table in Appendix B gives the location of entries in the LDB adjacent to the Olden entries.


The evacuation of the Old area would appear to have been planned, part of the population moving to East End, which was subsequently named Old East End, the parish being subsequently designated Stonham Aspal. Other people moved to Newton, which was subsequently called Old Newton. The movement may have been triggered by a climatic change causing the upper stretches of the River Deben to dry up in the summer, thus depriving the populace of water for dinking and washing. The 1899 Tithe Map Apportionments give a number of field names in the vicinity indicating a wetter climate than exists today, e.g., Pond Field, Rushy Piece, Old Pond Field, Mill Pond Field, Rowell Pond Field. Moreover, the manorial records give the rent of some fields in the area as a pound of cumin seed In the 1980’s an attempt locally to grow cumin on a commercial scale failed as the weather was too cold.





(1) The evidence for this is set out in Debenham’s Ecclesiastical Heritage, Debenham     History Society 2003 p54 et seq.

(2) 74,4

(3) In modern times in Debenham a bordar lives in a cottage but whose grandparents would have lived in a farmstead receiving board and lodging in exchange for working the farmland. In addition the bordar would have held a small holding  (½ acre) which was worked independently.

(4) The LDB name Estena has been rendered as Stonham (Aspal) whereas it should, obviously have been rendered as applying to the hamlet of (Old) East End in the modern parish of Stonham Aspal. Old East End is a manor.

(5) 38,6.

(6) 23,3.

(7) 21,23.

(8) 16,16.

(9) Vol. 1 p 419 note 2.




The order of settlement names in the LDB involving OLDEN, BOSMERE HUNDRED


1.5      Somersham                   Olden               Stonham

6,7      Coddenham                   Olden               Hemingstone

8,61    Hemingstone     Olden               Langhedena, Stonham

16,16  Stonham                        Olden               Creeting

16,21  Coddenham                   Olden               Stonham

21,23  Hemingstone                  Olden               Coddenham

23,6    (Old) Newton                Olden               -

51,2    Creeting                        Olden               -

53,2    -                                    Olden               Battisford

56.3    Coddenham                   Olden               Hemingstone

74,4    Battisford                      Olden               Hemingstone



Old Hall to Coddenham/Hemingstone approx 6¼ miles

Old Hall to Creeting approx 5¾ miles

Old Hall to Somerton approx 10¾ miles

Old Hall to Battisford approx 20 miles



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