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The Puddingstone Track: Deconstructed

  Puddingstone Track

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Along the Track: NORFOLK

 

 

The 'Discarded' section: Heacham to Grime's Graves

 

In October 1949, when Dr. Rudge read his first paper on the subject to the Essex Field Club, he concentrated on the fieldwork he had conducted that summer on his home turf in Essex. But he already suspected - through knowledge of sporadic puddingstones in Cheshunt, St. Albans, Chesham and Henley - that his Track continued westwards. Having found a few in Suffolk, he and his wife then made assumptions about its course and found five boulders along a roughly north-south line in north-west Norfolk. These were at Heacham, Grimston, Gayton, and two at Snettisham. He considered these "strong presumptive evidence" that the Track continued up to the shores of the Wash.

 

By November 1951 he had jettisoned one of the Snettisham stones, but found three more along the same approximate line. These all remained as mark-stones on the Track up to 1954, after which they seem to have been quietly forgotten. (Although in a letter dated July 22nd 1961, he stated that he had now traced his Track "to the cliff edge at Hunstanton!" By what evidence this was revealed remains unknown.)

 

In 'The Lost Trackway' - most of which its editor John Cooper said can be reasonably dated to 1983, the year before Rudge's death - any puddingstone finds north of Grime's Graves were considered to be "insufficient to justify further intensive search." Among these he mentioned only the northernmost stone, at Heacham church, but added another, at Narborough Mill, which he seems to have been told about in rather vague terms at a late date.

 

So, I begin by looking at this 'discarded' portion heading southwards from Heacham near the Norfolk coast.

 

It must be borne in mind that NONE of the following stones in this first section ended up as part of the 'final version' of the Track.

 

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Heacham

'At St. Mary's church' (first mention in print 1950; read to the Essex Field Club 1949):

The map reference Dr. Rudge gave for St. Mary's of TF682380 isn't far off, but the stone itself should more accurately be TF6813837970. He variously described a block of conglomerate at the church as 'under a buttress', 'under a tower buttress', and 'beneath a buttress on the south side'. By the time of 'Lost Trackway', he had narrowed it down to 'under a buttress of the church porch' - which is exactly where it is, under the west buttress of the south porch.

 

As my photograph shows, the stone is a roughly semi-circular slab, measuring 80cm x 75cm x 18cm high, jutting out from just beneath the buttress. This is a rough ferruginous conglomerate containing small pebbles, a type occasionally encountered in Norfolk. But it doesn't seem to be carstone, which the church is partly made from, as well as much of the churchyard wall.

 

Carstone (sometimes spelt carrstone) is actually a form of sandstone, usually without pebbles, and coloured anywhere from a pale orange to a gingery brown. It occurs commonly in the cliffs of the Hunstanton area, and was once quarried at many sites throughout north-west Norfolk. I mention it here because it will crop up again along the Track shortly.

 

The author Shirley Toulson1 went looking for this particular stone and somehow managed to miss it, even though it's immediately visible when you approach the church along the main path. Instead, she found no more than a "slither of conglomerate" at the foot of the north buttress of the tower - an object that I couldn't find at all.

 

1. Shirley Toulson: 'East Anglia: walking the ley lines & ancient tracks' (Wildwood House, 1979), p.50.

 

 

Heacham

'At schoolhouse' (first mention in print 1952; read to the EFC 1951):

This stone is somewhat problematic. Rudge gives no details of the stone itself but says it is 'behind schoolhouse', then 'in grounds of schoolhouse'. The map reference he gives - TF679372 - takes you to Heacham Infant & Nursery School, at the junction of School Road and the Broadway. I've been there, and there's no boulder anywhere on the school grounds nowadays. However, the afore-mentioned Shirley Toulson also went in search of this stone, and found it "in the back wall of the old school house, which is now a private dwelling".1

 

But the 'old school house' Toulson refers to is nearly half a mile north of the Infant School, and 130m west of the church. It's beyond the archway next to the Green, among the private houses within the southern end of Heacham Park. It turns out that there was indeed once a school here, founded in 1838 by the vicar, and known as the Top School. The diagram that Toulson gives in her book is a little misleading, but it's clear that she's actually referring not to the school building itself, but to the Master's House close by, built for the vicar in 1837. This stands at TF6798637971, and is now known as No.34 Hunstanton Road.

 

The fact that Rudge never described the stone, and never mentioned it again in print after January 1952, leads me to conclude that he never saw this rock himself. His typewritten notes (apparently dating from his stone-searching heydays in the early 1950s) say, after listing the one at the church: "Also reported by Mr. Newton-Brain, one behind the School". This would be an error for Charles Lewton Brain, who retired to Heacham in 1947 and became an enthusiastic and respected amateur archaeologist. Rudge obviously knew nothing of the old school near the church, and instead naturally assumed it to be the one further south, which would have been the only active school in the village at the time.

 

I've ventured through the archway near the Green, but all the houses there are sequestered away behind locked gates. It's a very private area, and I have little hope of ever gaining access to be able to search for this stone.

 

1. Shirley Toulson: 'East Anglia: walking the ley lines & ancient tracks' (Wildwood House, 1979), p.50.

 

 

Snettisham

'At old church' (first mention 1950):

Here, about 2 miles south of the previous stone, Rudge said he found a conglomerate block "in the foundations of the ruins of Snettisham old church", and gave the map reference TF691344. This isn't particularly accurate, but takes you to the vicinity of St. Mary's, the current parish church, which dates from the 14th century. There's no actual 'old church', but in the churchyard just a single pier some 3m high is all that remains of a massive chancel of the existing church which was demolished in about 1600 (TF6908034281.) Rudge's conglomerate should therefore be somewhere at the base of this flint work column, but Toulson failed to find it in the late 1970s. I visited in June 2016 and also failed, but one angle of the pier is filled at the base with rubble, so it could still be hidden there. The chances are that it's just a piece of the local carstone, which is very common in buildings of the area.

 

 

Snettisham

'In wall of house' (only mention 1950):

This stone was simply said to be "in the wall of a house", but the location given of TF682347 actually takes you to woodland north of the village, where there have never been any houses. Luckily, in his undated typewritten notes, he describes it as being under the corner of a house next to the post office, in the main street. In Rudge's time the post office was in the market place, in the terraced house now numbered 27 Lynn Road. Beside the house is a narrow dirt alleyway, and immediately next to it a very old cottage, No.25, under the south corner of which is a small lump of pale stone about 30cm x 20cm x 10cm high (TF6847734286).

 

This, however, is NOT a natural conglomerate of any kind. It's simply old and poorly-made concrete, with very little aggregate in it, that I think was just a rough attempt to replace some missing bricks. There's a smaller but similar object at the corner of a wall next to Stockley's pharmacy about 40m away along the same street. And there's a much larger block of the same material 60m further south along Lynn Road, at the corner of Hope House. It's odd that Rudge never mentioned either of these.

 

This was the first stone that he discarded from his early version of the Track. Possibly, this was because he soon realised what a poor specimen it was; but more likely, it was because it was about 600m west of the church, and thus considerably off the route he was proposing. He had already said in his 1949 paper that it was out of alignment with the other four stones found at that time.

 

 

Ingoldisthorpe

'At church' (first mention 1952):

Just less than a mile to the south of Snettisham is St. Michael's church, at TF69073276. Rudge describes many "brown puddingstone boulders" under the walls and buttresses, with another half-buried in the churchyard, at the west end. This latter is now quite exposed, 70cm x 50cm x 30cm high, sitting about 5m away from the west wall. It looks as if it has been partly shaped for use in the church fabric, but never used. But - like those smaller rocks under the buttresses and walls (mostly on the north side) - this is NOT puddingstone. All these are composed of the local and very common brown carstone, with no visible pebbles in them at all.

 

Conveniently for his theory, Dr. Rudge failed to mention the 50cm high sandstone boulder deeply embedded on the south side of the churchyard. There is as much evidence (i.e. none at all) for this to have been here since Neolithic times as his stones. If his Track was supposed to have been marked by only conglomerates, in order that the prehistoric traveller would follow the correct path, surely a different boulder on the same site would have been somewhat confusing? After a gap of 5 miles, we reach:

 

 

Grimston

'Wall of house in village' (first mention 1950):

Dr. Rudge gave two very similar map references for this stone: firstly TF722222, then later TF722221. Both of these take you to farm land just off Gayton Road, just north of the church. The nearest house to this spot is No.52, called 'The Springs', whose walls are a patchwork of carstone and clunch. However, Rudge's typed notes are once again helpful, as there he describes it as "a small stone beside a house near [the] village square." That takes us about 250m north, to the old market place at the junction of Gayton Road, Congham Road and Massingham Road. And there, at TF7206622437, is a pebbly brown carstone rock measuring 52cm x 30cm x 21cm high. It sits, oddly, on a low concrete base in a blocked-up doorway of the house attached to the Post Office Stores. I've made enquiries, but no one can tell me who set it there or why. I suspect that it might be the same rock visible in pictures of 1910 and 1920, that was then a corner-guard at the nearby Bell Inn (now the Old Bell Guest House.) Two miles further south is:

 

 

Gayton

'Behind Mill Stores' (first mention 1950):

Again there are two similar map coordinates given for this stone: TF732193, then TF733193. The second one takes you to the yard of the old tower mill, while the first is located at the nearby Mill House, now a care home. This reference fooled me for years, because right on the corner of Mill House, there is indeed a large rectangular stone, 72cm x 35cm x 36cm high. When I first saw it in the 1970s it was painted black, but the coating has now worn away and it can be seen to be sandstone, not puddingstone. There are other loose stones nearby, and some closer to the old mill yard entrance which were there in old pictures from the early 1900s. And just to the left of the entrance is a 32cm square block of actual flinty conglomerate - but it wasn't there when I first visited.

 

It was only in 2016 that I realised that once again Rudge's map references were inaccurate, and that I'd been looking in the wrong place. His published articles said that the puddingstone was "behind Mill Stores" and "in lane behind Mill Stores". His notes say "behind Mill Inn Stores". While there has never been a building with either name at Gayton, there was a 'Mill End Stores', about 75m away to the north-west. Now a residence called Mill End House, while its frontage faces Lynn Road, beside it runs Grimston Road. Dr. Rudge's photo (left) in the 'East Anglian Magazine' in 1952 enabled me to locate the correct spot as being TF7312219327, at the corner of an outbuilding attached to the back of Mill End House in Grimston Road.1 The building line, a blocked-up window, a curve in the pavement curb and a drain cover all point to this as the actual site.

 

Oddly, while his photograph shows two stones of the same type sitting loose on the surface, he only ever spoke about a single stone. He recorded it as a "white siliceous conglomerate", and described it in his notes as "the only doubtful one" in the Norfolk section of his Track. This is somewhat ironic, given his poor identification of stones so far. A small picture of both stones - then in the garden of Mill End House - can be found in the parish's 'Character Assessment' of 2019, where they are accepted as part of Rudge's Track without reservation.2 They are clearly conglomerates, with small rounded pebbles set in a whitish sandstone matrix.

 

Both were probably placed beside the road in past times to protect the corner of the building. More recently the property stood empty for a while, and the present owners have told me that one of the stones was taken for safekeeping into a neighbouring garden. The whereabouts of the other is less certain, but may still be nearby.3 Not far away is Gayton Hall, where more conglomerates have been reported, and which Rudge never knew about. Photographs of these suggest them to be closer to carstone, in that the matrix appears to be ferruginous.4

 

1. Anonymous (with info from Rudge): 'Pudding-stones' in 'East Anglian Magazine' Vol.11, No.5 (Jan. 1952), p.246.

2. 'Gayton & Gayton Thorpe Character Assessment' (Gayton & Gayton Thorpe Neighbourhood Plan, 2019), p.13.

3. Information gratefully received from Sarah Ellis of Gayton, 17/9/2019.

4. 'Gayton with Gayton Thorpe Parish Plan' (Gayton Parish Council, 2006), p.8.

 

 

Narborough

'At Narborough Mill' (only mention 'The Lost Trackway', 1994):

The only Ordnance Survey reference Rudge gives for this stone is TF7413, which is certainly the grid square that contains Narborough Mill, but he gives no other location or indeed description. This is about 4 miles south of Gayton. I suspect that this was one that was reported to him only in his later years. Without more information, it's impossible to track down.

 

 

Beachamwell

'The Cowell Stone' (first mention 1952):

Veering slightly more south-east, after just over 2 miles we reach the next mark-point. Rudge's given grid reference is TF767093, which is about 200m south of the true location, at TF7673509558. The Cowell Stone is quite a notable one for Norfolk, sitting on a spot that was once the junction of three ancient Hundreds and three parishes. It also rests on the grassy verge of an old track called Salter's Way, on the line of both a Roman road and the (allegedly prehistoric) Icknield Way. When I first saw it in about 1973 it was deeply embedded, with only about 25cm showing above ground. But in the 1980s it was dug up by two local historians and moved a few metres along and further back from the track. Now, its visible dimensions are 1m x 89cm x 60cm high, and it has a small iron plaque attached, stating it to be (on no evidence at all) a 'waymarker' of the Bronze Age.

 

Even in late 1951 Rudge hadn't seen this stone, but said in one of his letters that, "from its photograph it is clearly a conglomerate".1 He apparently didn't change that opinion when he visited it the following year - but it's NOT a conglomerate at all. It is a plain sandstone, probably from the area of Spilsby in Lincolnshire, in common with many erratic boulders left in Norfolk after the last Ice Age. An empty stretch of over nine miles is next, heading south-east to Cranwich.

 

1. Letter from Dr. Rudge to Mrs R. Pilcher, 5/10/1951.

 

 

Cranwich

St. Mary's church (first mention 1952):

In his 'Essex Naturalist' article of March 1952, Dr. Rudge included Cranwich church (TL78279487) as a point on his Track, but made no mention of any stone here.1 By July 1952, in the 'East Anglian Magazine', he was citing a "layer of pudding-stone" encircling the round tower - but it's a single string that only goes partially around, and it is NOT puddingstone.2 Once again, it's the very common dark brown carstone, here with no pebbles in it at all. Rudge was told by the rector that the church was supposed to be the site of a 'pagan chantry', because of the fact that it sits in a perfectly circular churchyard, and that prehistoric flint tools were often found there. The trouble with this is that 1) the shape of the churchyard is almost certainly determined by the slight natural mound upon which it sits, 2) it's far from a perfect circle, and 3) although Neolithic flints have been found all over the parish, there's nothing in the archaeological record to show that any came from the churchyard.

 

1. E.A. & E.L. Rudge: 'The Conglomerate Track' in 'Essex Naturalist' Vol.29, part 1 (March 1952), p.31.

2. E.A. Rudge: 'The Puddingstone Track: Further Discoveries' in 'East Anglian Magazine' Vol.11 (July 1952), p. 516.

 

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From Cranwich, Rudge believed that his Track then headed four miles south-east to the ancient flint mines now deep within Thetford Forest, at the place called Grime's Graves - which is where his final version of the Track now begins.

 

Grime's Graves to the Suffolk border

 

Grime's Graves is a site of great importance for British archaeology, and the reason why Dr. Rudge believed the Track had been constructed in the first place.

 

Although at that time he had not discovered any stones leading directly to it, even in his first paper read to the Essex Field Club in 1949, he believed that his Track had a "strongly suggestive link" to Grime's Graves. His suspicion was that "this track is probably the old flint trading route for the East Anglian settlements." By the time of his second paper, read two years later, he was certain of the connection. Indeed, he became convinced that the Track was "a trade route for flint and other goods" between Norfolk and the area of Stonehenge.

 

With its hundreds of pits, Grime's Graves is one of only ten known Neolithic flint mining sites in England; it is also the most-studied, and the only one open to the public. It is now known that its beginnings belong to the later Neolithic period, with the main extraction activities being carried out from c.2650 BC until c.2380 BC - far too late for Rudge's chronology.

 

Grime's Graves (Weeting)

'On edge of clay pit' (first mention 1952):

The first rigorous archaeological excavations to take place here in the modern period occurred in 1914, with the resulting report being published the following year, in the 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia'.

 

In 1951 Rudge consulted that report, and noted on the accompanying sketch plan of the site a clay pit just outside the southern end of the mining area. This pit (at TL81728958) dates from the 18th or 19th century, and was dug for marl, a type of clay rich in nutrients, which was widely used in post-medieval times for fertilising the land. According to him, the plan showed just within that pit "a feature described as an 'Erratic Boulder'." Upon visiting the site, he found what he termed "a sandstone conglomerate containing flint pebbles" that was now near the bottom of the pit, not far from a dried-up spring on its eastern side.1 He never described it in any greater detail, but his published photograph (left) shows a somewhat angular rock probably no more than about 60cm across and 40cm high, seemingly just resting on the surface.

 

By July 1952, Rudge had been told that the stone used to stand on a slope just outside the pit, but had rolled down into it. However, by the time of 'Lost Trackway' the tale had mutated somewhat. In that, he claimed that the 1914 excavation plan showed "a mound labelled 'tumulus', surmounted by a small dot labelled simply 'stone'." Supposedly the custodian of Grime's Graves told him the boulder had been dislodged from the top of the mound to lay at its foot.2

 

Much of this is far from accurate. I have a copy of that 1914 plan, and yes, it shows the pit, with a dot just within its northern edge - actually labelled as 'Glacial Erratic', not 'Erratic Boulder' - but the only mound shown on the whole plan is 300m away to the north-east! It's indeed labelled 'Tumulus', but there is no stone marked on it. (This mound is that named 'Grimshoe' by the Saxons, was found to be mostly formed of mining rubble, and may be later than the Neolithic.) Although this particular mound is nowhere near the pit, Rudge was convinced that his Track-builders had erected a mound purely for a stone to be set on top of it as a sighting-point - an idea that crops up again several times along his route. There are a few low banks of different shapes and sizes clustered about the eastern side of the clay pit, but these are simply the eroded remains of spoil heaps from the marl extraction; they have never been considered as archaeological features.

 

Rudge said that the stone "was sufficiently remarkable as the only boulder found in the district to receive special mention by the surveyor". In that same year, 1951, he also remarked in a letter to one of his followers that "It is the only boulder in the area, obviously brought from a distance".3 While it may have been the only stone on the excavation surveyor's plan, it wasn't the only rock in the pit. Rudge conveniently ignored another, even after being challenged on it by the geologist and fellow Field Club member S. Hazzledine Warren in 1954. The excavation report not only records two stones, but even specifies the types of rock: "On the Santon side of the plantation is a boulder clay pit, in which lie two erratic boulders. One of these was identified by Professor P.F. Kendall, F.G.S., of Leeds University, as Lincolnshire flint, the larger one being Carstone, from the Lower Greensand of Lincolnshire".4 As Warren pointed out when he saw them himself, "both are normal erratics in the Chalky Boulder Clay in which the pit was dug", and he saw no need for any more fanciful explanation.5 Rudge's 'sandstone conglomerate with flint pebbles' was presumably the one of 'Lincolnshire flint.'

 

I first visited the pit in May 2016, following the forest trails and across open heath from Santon Downham. (The photo left is an aerial shot of Grime's Graves from the west. The location of the pit is circled in red.) The pit itself is about 70m long, 25m wide, and several metres deep. It's now surrounded by trees and densely filled with bracken, brambles, nettles and thorny bushes. Rain and the intrusion of tree roots have caused a lot of soil slippage, making passage difficult. But, right where the 1914 plan shows it, I unearthed the tip of a boulder at TL8172089598. I was only able to expose a small portion of it, measuring 75cm x 45cm x 15cm high. Although this had to be the one described as carstone, it didn't have the typical brownish colouration of that rock; and though I found the site of the dried-up spring, I could find no trace of Rudge's flinty conglomerate in the dense vegetation.

 

I returned in October that same year, but by then the bracken was above head height, and denser than ever. I couldn't even find again the stone that I had already discovered, let alone Rudge's. If it's still there, probably nothing short of a complete clearance by flamethrower would enable it to be found.

 

1. E.A. & E.L. Rudge: 'The Conglomerate Track' in 'Essex Naturalist' Vol.29, part 1 (March 1952), p.24-5 (read 24/11/51.)

2. E.A. Rudge (ed. John Cooper): 'The Lost Trackway' (1994), p.4.

3. Letter from Dr. Rudge to Mrs R. Pilcher, 18/6/1951.

4. W.G. Clarke (ed.): 'Report on the Excavations at Grime's Graves, Weeting, Norfolk, March-May 1914', in 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia' (1915), p.34.

5. S. Hazzledine Warren: 'The Conglomerate Track' in 'Essex Naturalist' Vol.29, part 3 (1954), p.177.

 

From here Rudge imagined that his Track continued for another two miles in its south-easterly direction, over the burial mound known as Blood Hill - which dates from the Bronze Age, and wouldn't have existed during the Neolithic works at Grime's Graves - and then carried on for three miles over Gallows Hill (now known to be a Bronze Age/late Iron Age site), and south into Thetford.

 

 

Thetford

St. Nicholas Street (first mention 1952):

Initially, Rudge's only comment was: "In our opinion this street is aligned along the ancient track, and thus is probably the oldest thoroughfare in Thetford".1 Unfortunately for his theory, it turns out that St. Nicholas Street is very probably a late addition to the town's medieval road plan.2

 

This street then went unmentioned in his later published works until 'Lost Trackway'. There, he stated "the track enters Thetford by the railway station and continues in the same direct line towards the famous ford along St. Nicholas Street, one side of which is lined with an unbroken series of puddingstone boulders from the station to the river".3 At its north-west end, the street did indeed once join Mundford Road in the area of the railway station, but it has stopped well short of that since the early 19th century. Unfortunately the whole eastern side of St. Nicholas Street was swept away in a 1974 redevelopment, then cut in half by the London Road inner relief route. Very few buildings are left that were there in Rudge's time, and I've been unable to find any old photographs to show this 'unbroken series of boulders'. The south-east end of the street continues on to meet Minstergate.

 

1. E.A. Rudge: 'The Puddingstone Track: Further Discoveries' in 'East Anglian Magazine' Vol.11 (July 1952), p. 515.

2. Alan Crosby: 'A History of Thetford' (Phillimore, 1986), p.42.

3. E.A. Rudge (ed. John Cooper): 'The Lost Trackway' (1994), p.10.

 

 

Thetford

Minstergate (first mention 1952):

In the 1950s, Rudge claimed that there were still traces of the original ancient ford over the Little Ouse river, visible next to the 19th century Town Bridge on its western side. This is unlikely, as the river had been heavily canalised since before he was even born. According to him, "here are two conglomerate blocks lying one on either bank".1 At this point he clearly hadn't seen these stones himself, as a few months later he was describing two on the south side and four on the north. The latter, on the southern side of the street called Minstergate, were actually 75m from the river, and 90m from the bridge, so could hardly be said to have marked the ford, as he claimed. He also said they were only "a few steps" from the junction with the main road. Rudge, however, was very poor at estimating distances, as even the nearest stone was almost 50m away from the meeting with Bridge Street.

 

His (rather indistinct) photograph2 shows the stones - one of them quite a large boulder - spread out against a brick wall and the frontage of a building, all of which have since been demolished. They have been replaced by what is now No.1 Museum House, and the access way beside it. The stones were still there in 1970, when a newspaper article said that they "push through the pavement surface along Minstergate Street, whitewashed so that folk may avoid falling over them".3 Three of the boulders have since been removed, but one, the smallest, remains, embedded in the path just below the Minstergate street sign, at TL8684483179 (photo left.)

 

Whatever the others were, this is NOT a puddingstone, or any type of conglomerate. This is a rounded 'hump' of sandstone, or possibly siltstone, with no trace of a pebble in its surface. It measures 85cm x 40cm x 30cm high.

 

Quite remarkably, Rudge seems to have entirely missed an actual sandstone conglomerate, complete with visible pebbles, right next to the bridge. This one measures 85cm x 65cm x 25cm high, and is embedded just outside the gatepost to Bridge House, at TL8685383091. Judging from old photographs, it has been in that position since at least the 19th century.

 

1. E.A. & E.L. Rudge: 'The Conglomerate Track' in 'Essex Naturalist' Vol.29, part 1 (March 1952), p.24 (read 24/11/51.)

2. E.A. Rudge: 'The Puddingstone Track: Further Discoveries' in 'East Anglian Magazine' Vol.11 (July 1952), p.514.

3. R.D. Clover: 'The Infancy of Thetford' in 'Eastern Daily Press' 20/2/1970.

 

 

Thetford

'Maltings' boulders (first mention 1952):

250m away on the south side of the river stood the second set of what Rudge called his 'ford stones' - although again they were nowhere near the actual ford. While only 50m from the river bank, they were in fact 140m away from the bridge. He did acknowledge that they probably weren't in their original positions, "but they are of such a great size that surely they have not been moved very far".1 His photograph (left) shows two large angular boulders, each perhaps a cubic metre in size, propped against the corners of a small brick and cobble-faced building. This seems to have been a cottage or perhaps an office attached to the main 19th century maltings complex, most of which was swept away in a redevelopment of 1962.

 

He described the stones as being "in a tiny lane leading to the 'Maltings'. The lane leads off the Bury road, a few yards from its junction with the Newmarket road." A study of old maps shows that there was only ever one lane leading to the maltings off what is now Old Bury Road, an eastward extension of Star Lane now known as The Drift. Once again Rudge's distances are shown to be unreliable, as his "few yards" is in fact 100m. I've managed to locate the building against which the stones stood: it was at approx. TL86858293, now occupied by the western corner of a group of flats named Heath Court (previously home to the magistrates court.)

 

A newspaper of 1970 hints at the final fate of Rudge's stones: "Until recent months two great boulders stood by a building at the bottom of a lane near The Planes in Bury Road; the building has now been destroyed and what became of the boulders is unknown".2

 

Including Rudge's 'ford stones', and the conglomerate outside Bridge House, I have evidence of 14 boulders clustered within a 100m radius of the Town Bridge. Those that survive are definitely sandstone, including 3 large rocks beside the Haling Path on the south side of the bridge. This makes me wonder if all of them were not simply dredged up from the bed of the river when the current bridge was being built in 1829.

 

1. E.A. Rudge: 'The Puddingstone Track: Further Discoveries' in 'East Anglian Magazine' Vol.11 (July 1952), p.514.

2. R.D. Clover: 'The Infancy of Thetford' in 'Eastern Daily Press' 20/2/1970.

 

From here, Rudge felt that his Track lay roughly on the same line as the existing A134 to Bury St. Edmunds, traversing Barnhamcross Common and heading south for about two miles to the village of Barnham, in Suffolk.

 

Suffolk

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