Topographical relationships of Covehithe and South Cove
coves_red.jpg
Farms marked in purple; dotted line = parish boundaries

Neither Covehithe nor South Cove is listed in the Domesday survey. There is only one village 'Northhalla', which probably means 'the north nook'. Most of the land was apportioned to a manor of 2 carucates, and compared with the sizes of its neighbours the parish probably occupied the area now covered by the communities of Covehithe and South Cove. The modern coastline has been highlighted on the above map in relation to the 5 metre contour, which emphasises the two minor inlets, Benacre Broad and Covehithe Broad and the major topographical outlet of the Easton River, which arises to north of Wrentham village and now reaches the sea through the shingle-blocked Easton Broad. Referring back to Domesday times it has to be remembered that the coastline has been considerably eroded, particularly with respect to the lost lands of Easton Bavents, which it is thought extended far to the east as Eastern Ness, making it at one time the most easterly extension of East Anglia. Although there is no written evidence it is a logical deduction that the Saxon settlement of North Hales was centred on the outlet of the estuary of the Eastern River. About half a mile from South Cove church is a striking mound that has been equated with a Saxon dock. Subsequent coastal erosion led to the development of the inlet of Covehithe Broad being established as the focus of an inshore fishing community that consolidated as a separate parish with a new ecclesiastical centre on the cliffs. The modern parish boundary between the two 'Coves' is defined by rectilinear property boundaries on the sandlings, and was clearly apportioned by the enclosure of heathland. In contrast, the boundary between South Cove and its four western neighbours closely follows the course of the Easton River, a feature that indicates its antiquity.

Regarding the names of these 'cove' communities. They appeared late in history and refer to the northern 'hithe' established at the inlet of south of the new church, and the southern cove, which was a reajustment of the primary settlement to the erosion and silting up of the mouth of the Eastern River.

Returning to the Domesday name for this settlement, it logically define the people of 'the north nook' up the Easton River, to distinguish this coastal community from that of Easton that was situated further south on the estuary.