Over nearly a century, the Norfolk Archaeological Trust has brought many new insights about Norfolk’s history. But with every new insight our work brings, it also brings new mysteries. Mysteries which remain unanswered to this day. Such is the case with Fiddler’s Hill. This unassuming mound on the North Norfolk Coast has been known for centuries. In 1933, however, construction work was underway to expand the crossroads which encircle the mound. This led to a section of the mound’s Northern side collapsing, meaning that Fiddler’s Hill is only half a hill nowadays. However, this damage to the site also exposed depositions that betray a long history of agriculture and construction work.
This is what we do know about the hill. Its beginnings were as a Neolithic burial site. Excavations show depositions of charcoal and flint on this site as far back as 1500 BC. Over centuries, as these depositions were continually added to, the mound we see today would have been formed. Excavations of skeletons and even coffins suggest that it was likely a burial site, and was possibly still being used for this when the Romans invaded. Even after the hill stopped being the site of rituals, the association with death never quite went away. In the sixteenth century, it was a common site of executions. But a site with such a long continuous history has also been the source of many unusual stories.
The most famous legend tells of a mysterious tunnel that supposedly ran through its centre, reaching from Blakeney Guildhall to Binham Priory. Who built the tunnel, and their reason for creating it, was a mystery for the locals. But it quickly became a source of fear, as well as mystery. There were rumours of a spectral, black-robed monk that stalked the priory grounds. Was there any connection between this figure and the tunnel? The locals had no idea, and none were willing to venture into those tunnels, to solve the mystery themselves. Then a fiddler stepped up to the task. He would go down into the tunnels while playing his fiddle, so that the townsfolk could follow him above ground. But when they got the to current location of our hill, his music abruptly stopped. There were all sorts of rumours. Some said that the Devil had taken him. The site was given its current name to commemorate his sudden disappearance. Whether there is any truth to this story is a mystery. Sightings of the black-robed monk continue to this day, while the centre of Fiddler’s Hill has never been excavated. Whatever secrets it keeps, have been taken to the ground.