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The Daynes Sports Hall, St Faith’s Lane, Norwich

Picture of excavation at Daynes sports hall

In the spring of 2008 NAU Archaeology undertook an excavation at The Daynes Sports Hall, St Faith’s Lane, Norwich. This work took place prior to construction work to extend the Daynes Sports Hall building.

The earliest evidence for human activity at the site comprised a small number of post-holes. Possibly structural, no coherent building plan could be discerned for their arrangement. The artefacts and the features stratigraphic relationships suggest a probable Late Saxon (10th–11th century) date for them. Associated with these features was a pit containing metalworking debris.

Sealing this phase of activity was a metalled north–south road of 10th–11th century date. Projecting the road line northwards brings it close to where the Late Saxon church of St Ethelbert is thought to have stood. The slighting of other Late Saxon features hints at a planned approach to the setting out of this road. A cellared Late Saxon building to the west of this road might have been used for activities such as antler-working, and, possibly unrelated, antler-working debris had been disposed of on this road.

The road seems to have fallen out of use in the 11th century, this abandonment perhaps reflecting post-11th-century changes following the Norman Conquest such as the construction of the Cathedral precinct.

In the medieval period the site was owned by a Franciscan friary – the Greyfriars. At this time a substantial building with large wall up to 1.10m wide was constructed along the south of the site. This wall formed part of a previously unknown friary building. Documentary evidence provides a plausible terminus post quem for its construction, as the land on which the site stands was not owned by the friary until after 1292.

The current site was expected to lie within the Greyfriars cemetery, but apart from a single skull redeposited in modern times, no evidence for the cemetery was recovered.

David Adams