Mystery over possible 11th-century stone carving hidden in fireplace

Historic stones

Award-winning builder Kevin Baker had just started to take down a 1970s stone-built fire surround in a detached house at Mileham, between Dereham and Fakenham when he noticed something unusual. - Credit: Michael Pollitt

Mystery surrounds a possible 11th-century piece of Norman stone carving that was hidden in a modern fireplace in a mid Norfolk house.

1970s stone-built fire surround in a detached house at Mileham

Award-winning builder Kevin Baker had just started to take down a 1970s stone-built fire surround in a detached house at Mileham, between Dereham and Fakenham when he noticed something unusual. - Credit: Micheal Pollitt

Award-winning builder Kevin Baker had just started to take down a 1970s stone-built fire surround in a detached house at Mileham, between Dereham and Fakenham when he noticed something unusual.

As he picked up a piece of stone, he noticed some unusual carving on the back, before handing it to Michael Pollitt, vice-chairman of the Round Tower Churches Society.

Volunteers at St John Maddermarket Church, Michael Pollitt, right, and Mike Spivey.Picture: ANTONY

Michael Pollitt - Credit: Archant

On the back of the block of stone, which measured six inches by four inches, there was a distinct chevron carving, that looked like the design commonly attributed to Norman stonemasons and often used to decorate church doorways.

As the fire surround was removed, two other pieces of stone, both with typical rebates found in church windows were identified.


You may also want to watch:


Mr Baker, of Hellesdon, who had undertaken the refurbishment of the three-bedroomed detached house for Michael and CJ Pollitt, was puzzled as to where the stone had come from.

The Norman stones found in the mid Norfolk home

The Norman stones found in the mid Norfolk home - Credit: Michael Pollitt

He said: "There were another three pieces, all shaped, which may have come from part of a column. They did not actually fit together but were of a similar nature."

Most Read

The house, with its six-foot fireplace surround, was almost certainly built around 1973 because it was registered with the National House Building Council by Colin Read, of Hevingham, on September 1, 1974.

He paid £20, including the inflation cover premium, for registration.

Builder Kevin Baker points to a newly-installed swift box on a brick garage gable in north Norwich.

Builder Kevin Baker - Credit: Archant

The society’s secretary, Lyn Stilgoe, who has seen the photograph of the inverted-V carving, thought it "could be 11th century and dating from Norman times" and wondered if it had possibly come from Castle Acre priory or castle.

A groove in the other stone looks like the space cut to hold glass, she added.

  • Do you know anything about where the stones might have come from? Email Abigail.Nicholson@archant.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus