Fig 1 Western portion of Wangford Hundred showing distribution of common land


The above sketch map shows the major arial units of the western portion of the Hundred of Wangford (Wainford; meaning river crossing of the wagons) as it appeared in Domesday book and up to the present. The boundaries form a remarkably regular rectangular array of seven distinct communities with boundaries aligned to the course of the River Waveney to the north and the road from Halesworth to Wainford towards the east. Two large rectangles may be defined. The Nine Parishes make up the western rectangle and the eastern one consists of the four Ilketshalls, plus Bungay and Mettingham. Looking at the precision of this large scale division of land, the conclusion cannot be avoided that the comparmentation was part of one great plan, which probably predated the formation of the Hundred and came after the formation of the road. The old name for this road is Stone Street, an indication that it follows the line of a Roman highway.

Fig 2 South East corner of South Elmham (1870)

(red dash is part of the hundred boundary; dots on field boundaries represent trees)

The same degree of topographical organisation is seen in the laying out of fields. The above map shows the south east corner of South Elmham where the hundred boundary divides it from Rumburgh. The north to south alignment of land divisions between communities seen in Fig 1 is continued down to the individual field boundaries. Each field in part of a jigsaw of parallelograms aligned with Stone Street about three miles to the East. The planned alignment cuts across the Hundred boundary. This makes it highly likely that the community boundary was set up after the fields had been surveyed and marked out. But, the Hundred corner is not aligned with the field boundaries and actually follows a curve across a field (see break in red dashed line). This is significant because it is evidence for the existence of an older less regular boundary of local importance known to the two communities. A closer examination of the junction between the three parishes at this point reveals that although the fields are part of the larger coaxial pattern across the parish boundaries, the field boundaries north/south as well as east/west are not continuous across these boundaries. It is interesting that the major natural drainage feature of this part of South Elmham, Rumburgh Beck, also shows discontinuities of hedgerows across it, suggesting it was used to mark property boundaries within this particular community of All Saints at the farmstead level.

Fig 3 Enlargement of part of Fig 2


(blue line = Rumburgh Beck; Red dash= parish boundaries; IM= Ilketshall St Margaret; Ru= Rumburgh; AS= South Elmham All Saints)