A number of sites of human habitation have been found in the valley of the Nar, mostly in areas where the water from the Nar and peat could be easily obtained. The area has been inhabited by the ‘Clactonians’ and the ‘Beaker’ people. A few flint axe and arrow heads have been found in scattered positions. There do not appear to be any early history finds between the main street and the chalk ridge to date.
Iron Age and Beyond
Again, the presence of Bronze and Iron Age man are found mostly in the Eastgate area, and other finds of pottery and metal pieces are confined to the valley of the Nar. These sites, also known as ‘pot-boiler’ sites, are identified by a heap of calcined flints and flints split by heat. At the position of the present Eastgate House, larger numbers of the “pot-boiler” sites were congregated. Eastgate may imply that this could have been some kind of fortified area with a gate. As there is no trace of any defence works, the most likely explanation is that ‘gate’, being the Danish word for a lane, drove or road, is a legacy of the Danes when East Anglia was under their occupation. A drove to the Nar still exists and this is on the eastern side of the village. Later inhabitants were Iceni, Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Normans, all of which added to the rich history of the area. Recent excavations on the Old Bell site have revealed the remains of an early Saxon settlement, possibly dating back to about 500 AD.
The first appearance of the name ‘Marham’ is in the entry for the Hundred of Clackclose in the Doomsday Book, where the place is referred to as ‘Merham’ meaning ‘the hamlet by the mere’. In the medieval period, there existed low-lying marsh ground in the vicinity of the local Waterworks catchment area, which provided peat for the inhabitants of the village. This peat area was enclosed early in this century by the Waterworks Company the villagers being compensated annually by the Company with coal for their loss of peat as fuel. Another marsh area existed between the Abbey and the River Nar, where the river ballooned out into a shallow lake.