Peddar's Way and Religious Sanctuary at Holme next the Sea

Take me home!

This interesting lead was forwarded to me by Pat fisher, and I too have never heard of it.     If any further light can be thrown on this subject please get in touch via email at The Webmaster.

"I have picked up a book written by Henry Hibberd, Rector of Burnham Thorpe, 1920-50 from Burnham Thorpe Church.  

In his early ramblings he refers to the Roman Garrison at Brancaster and the Peddars Way leading to Holme as follows:-  

Roman infantry moving in for garrison relief to Brancaster;  there they had built a fort to overawe the British religious sanctuary at Holme.  Rome always respected local religions, so long as local religions respected her supremacy.  Therefore she would now allow her legionaries to use the Peddar's Way, because it was of old times a religious road leading to the god's sanctuary at Holme.  Pilgrims on that road were taboo, sacred to the god.  No one might sling a nice smooth stone or draw a bowstring against them.  So maybe the soldiers used our road (Burnham Thorpe) to reach their camp at Brancaster.  Certainly Holme would be a hotbed of national or tribal feeling hostile to Rome;  Boadicea knew that as well as Caesar.  So on our road we might expect to meet Roman soldiers with their rhythmic tread bringing inland fierce fanatic Druid priests from Holme sanctuary. 

I wonder if you have any information on the above.  I have never heard of a religious sanctuary at Holme and certainly during the Seahenge fiasco when the Druids were around (including the chief Druid) no-one even mentioned that Holme was a Druid stronghold pre Roman.  Might it not be worth looking into - but where would one start looking?  This village priest cum historian does not give his sources."

Update from the Norfolk Museums Service

Peddars Way was accepted by early antiquaries as a Roman road but the 1883 edition of the six inch OS map marked at Holme next the Sea a "British Encampment"  and also showed the Peddars Way approaching it along the line of the modern road still called Peddars way North, although this is not the route shown on the tithe map and 18th century maps. In 1896 H M Beloe published a book entitled The Paddars (sic) Way in which the stated that the "Head of the Way at Holme was protected by two guarded enclosures divided by a bank with two large moats to each side"  He went on to suggest that the Way was Ancient British rather than Roman and it is suspected that he had earlier convinced the OS to mark it as such.  The enclosures were said by the late R R Clarke to be simply flood embankments; they have produced large quantities of medieval metalwork and pottery but only a few Roman sherds and nothing older. In the early 20th century they were used for a large tented? military camp! However Beloe's theory gained such a hold that not only was the modern road renamed Peddars Way by the council, but when the Long Distance Path was laid out in the 1980s there were complaints that it did not follow the correct route. In fact it follows the line shown on older field book maps. So possibly it was this that inspired Henry Hibberd?


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