In the Domesday book Peasenhall is variously spelt Pesehala, Pesehalla, Peseheala, Pesenhala, and Pisehalla. The common suffix 'hal' or 'hall' appears to have been used in Suffolk to describe a nook or an out of the way place. It is common to the cluster of communities including Spexhall, Westhall, Titshall (now an isolated wood in Brampton), Spexhall and Ilketshall, all situated at the northern edge of the Blything Hundred. In line with this, there is evidence that these boundary communities, like Peasenhall, spread out in Saxon times from the 'dead ends' of small well-watered valleys up onto the intractable wooded clayland of the high plateau. Kelsale was Kelksalla to the Saxons, and represents another nook community where the main north south coastal road through the county crosses from Blything into Plomesgate Hundred. It was here that the sheriff had his headquarters (Carlton).

At Spexhall the plateau between the Blyth and Waveney catchments was probably an impediment to north-south communication from the earliest times. In this respect, Stone Street, leading from Halesworth via Spexhall to Bungay is regarded as a local engineering initiative of the Romans to drive a route across the impenetrable claylands between Halesworth and Bungay. Similarly, the road to the west out of Peasenhall, through Dennington to Stowmarket was probably developed in order to export corn from the Romano-British farms of Blything, and to make an inward connection with the port of Dunwich. The relative isolation of the upper Yox beyond Yoxford was probably a factor that made Sibton attractive to the Cistercian monks who founded their abbey alongside the river, facing south beneath a wooded cliff, a semi-wilderness very much as it is today.

There is still something of a mystery about the so-called Roman Roads in and around Blything. Quite often, the straight bits connect up intermediate bendy bits. Where there are gaps, the maps often show a dotted line as if the intermediate section had been destroyed, but without archaeological evidence for the assumption. A more reasonable conclusion is that the bendy bits were in existence as a network of local community tracks before the arrival of the legionary task force, whose job was to connect up with the next local network on a straight line across a stretch of impenetrable terrain. After all, these roads were probably required for the long-distance movement of agricultural supplies rather than for the rapid deployment of military assets.

The southern boundaries of Peasenhall and Sibton mark the edge of the clay plateau at a height of about 50 metres. The plateau edge also carries the eastern boundary of Dennington southwards, where it separates the Hundreds of Hoxne (to the west) and Plomesgate (to the east).

Going south from Peasenhall over the clay plateau from the Yox valley the traveller quickly drops 30 to 35 metres into the upper valley of the Alde, which contains a tight cluster of villages. Here the communities of Bruisyard, Rendham, Cransford, Sweffling, Great Glemham and Benhall comprise the north western boundary territory of Plomesgate Hundred. Centred on their churches, these villages are aligned along a narrow valley floor about 20 metres wide. The Alde valley at this point is a classic example of the powerful forces of glacial melt waters, which here drained eastwards from the great Suffolk ice cap. Now the Alde rises as a small stream from the remote uplands at Owl’s Green on the boundary between Dennington and Laxfield.

contours3red.jpg





P=Peasenhall; B= Bruisyard; KC= Kelsale-Carlton; C=Cransford; R= Rendham;
S=Sweffling; Sa=Saxmundham; G=Great Glemham; Be=Benhall;

Purple= land 40-50 metres (Clay plateau)
Green = land between 15-20 metres (Alde Valley)

Dotted lines are parish boundaries
Dot and dashed lines are hundred boundaries.











Within this south western corner of Blything, Peasenhall is one of four boundary communities. From north west to south east these are Ubbeston, Heveningham, Peasenhall and Sibton. In the following diagram shows their relative positions in relation to a solid red line which is the Hundred boundary of Blything,

peasen_boundaries_red.jpg
The dotted red lines are the parish boundaries. This contoured sketch map shows that the Hundred boundary follows the western terminations of the Heveningham-Ubbeston Blyth and the Yox. At this point, Blything abuts Plomesgate Hundred (Badingham) and Hoxne Hundred (Laxfield).

The importance of Peasenall at the hub of road communications out of Blything is shown in the next map.

At this point two roads leave Blything to cross the plateau clays. They are important east-west routes from the coast. The northern one runs up the Heveningham-Ubbeston Blyth from Southwold, through Halesworth and reaches the Waveney Valley at Scole. At Scole it connects with the main road from Ipswich to Norwich and the route from Yarmouth to Bury along the Waveney Valley. The seond road, in the south, comes from Aldeburgh, via Westleton and Yoxford, and runs up the Yox valley through Sibton and Peasenhall, eventually connecting with the Ipswich to Bury road at Stowmarket in the Gipping Valley.

peasen_roads_red.jpg
These two roads are connected. At Peasenhall Church the so-called Roman Road runs in a straight line north east to Ubbeston. About two miles from Ubbeston there is a turn off to the east. This road, known locally as the 'Dunwich Road', goes through Sibton Street, Darsham and Westleton to the coast at Dunwich.

Another connection between the Yox and Blyth valleys is made by a road that leaves the Yox Valley on the Sibton/Peasenhall border to join the Halesworth Scole road at Walpole. Before the turnpike from Halesworth through Bramfield was built, Halesworth folk knew this road as 'the London Road', because it was the main route from the town to reach the main Yarmouth to Ipswich road at Yoxford.