The site can be easily missed- I first visited the field about a decade ago, unaware of the henge, and failed to spot it (although in my defence I was downhill from it, near the river). Much easier to find second time around, entering over a stile from White Horse Lane, the local electricity board has helpfully marked the spot by placing a pylon either side (they also stuck the adjoining substation over a related round barrow). On a hot, parched summers day like the one of my visit, the earthworks are quite clear, and the vegetation still conforms to the henge contours. Lots of flints lying about, and the ground is turned over by moles- a few finds have been spotted fairly recently. I’m sure someone with a better eye for flint tools than myself could spend a productive half hour here.
I live 5 minutes away from this "most important henge of its kind outside of Wessex". Unfortunately, it is most unimpressive but if you walk around the circle in the field and imagine what might have gone on all those years ago you will surely smile.
If you park in 'The Cock' pub car park in Old Lakenham and have a drink, and then walk over the river and railway bridges there is a footpath into the field in the direction of the henge. Follow the line of the hedgerow to the South along to towards the house. The henge is between two pylons to the left (east) of the house.
[visited 9/12/02] A perishingly cold december day couldn't temper the joy I had visiting this site. Really not much to see on the ground, just a depression with a low bank around it. It also has the pleasure of a fck off huge pylon right next to it..
But it's a henge, in Norfolk. And its even on the Norwich A-Z, Alan Partridge would be proud...
A henge monument at Arminghall photographed from the air (as cropmarks) in 1929 and partly excavated in 1935. The site comprises two concentric sub-circular ditches, the innermost circa 27 metres across and the outer circa 82 metres across. The outer ditch is much narrower. Traces of a slight bank were noted both inside the outer ditch and outside the inner ditch. These are presumed by the excavator to represent the same bank. The inner ditch has an entrance on its south-western side. The outer ditch could not be traced on the south west, so it is unclear if it featured a corresponding entrance gap. Cropmark evidence in fact suggests that there may have been three or four interruptions in the oute circuit in the south to southwest sector. Within the inner enclosure was a horseshoe-shaped arrangement of 8 substantial post holes, each of which was accompanied by a ramp (all facing the same direction). The two post holes which were excavated suggested that they held oak posts each about 1 foot in diameter, and sunk about 8 feet into the ground. Several decades later, a radiocarbon date of 2490+/-150 bc (uncalibrated) was obtained from charcoal recovered from one of the post holes. Finds from primary contexts were rather limited, comprising mainly flint flakes, cores and burnt flints plus 16 sherds of rusticated Beaker pottery from a "charcoal seam" in the inner ditch. The presence of Beaker sherds is a little at odds with the radiocarbon date, even allowing for the age of the wood, which suggests that the timber circle/horseshoe may well pre-date the henge itself. Unstratified material and finds from secondary contexts included items of Mesolithic, Iron Age and Roman date.
The henge was supposedly aligned on nearby Chapel Hill (much more detail in this excellent study: http://www.uea.ac.uk/~jwmp/CAA2003.pdf ). This hill, now obliterated by the Norwich to London railway line, was once surmounted by the parish church of the deserted medieval village of Markshall. The nearby village of Caistor also had its church away from the village, in this case in a corner of the ruined town of Venta Icenorum (perhaps on the site of one of the town’s temples?). Incidentally, both of these churches were dedicated to St Edmund.
The naming of White Horse Lane adjacent to the site is intriguing. Now, I may have been staring at this for too long or spent a little too long in the sun, but I think there could be a hint of the outline of a horse figure in this photo: http://www.heritage.norfolk.gov.uk/map-record?UID=MNF6100&BBOX=623931,305974,624012,306055&CRS=EPSG:27700&count=1&ck_MON1=true&ck_MON=false
Just outside of the northern curve of the henge, I’m seeing a head due north of the western electricity pylon, and two hind legs just to the left of the eastern set of cables. Just me?!
Arminghall is one of those sites that looks like nothing today, but in its time would undoubtedly have been pretty astonishing.
Like Woodhenge, its potential was spotted from the air by brave military pilot Gilbert Insall, who snapped it with his camera. Grahame Clark excavated it in 1935 - he found eight enormous post holes in the middle of the henge. Each was equipped with a slope to help manoeuvring (you can see these in the diagram posted by KK), and they were arranged in a horseshoe, with the open part next to the henge entrance.
The two holes that Clark excavated most thoroughly had post pipes nearly 1m across. Post pipes are the traces in the soil of rotted timber posts - so the oak timber posts must have been Enormous.
Considering Maud Cunnington thought her 85cm postpipes at Woodhenge translated into posts rising 7.5m above the ground and weighing 5 1/2 tons - well, Arminghall must surely have been a stupendous sight.
Though this may take some imagining considering its current environment.