The intricate arrangements of parish boundaries in this part of the Hundred are legacies of the primary forces of human settlement whereby particular families or clans began to move from their initial locations in the lower valleys to expand onto the higher and more difficult claylands of the plateau. There they would come up against others who were engaged in the same process.

parish_shapes.jpg As far as the Blything peoples were concerned, five communities of Henstead, Wrentham, Frostenden, Uggeshall and Stoven had to adjust their plateau lands in relation to the demands of their neighbours and the boundary of Sotterley, which was probably already settled in the other northern hundred of Wangford. It may have been that Stoven, Uggeshall and Frostenden were originally one settlement that was later subdivided.

All of these events are shrouded in the Dark Ages after the Romans left and the Saxons established the hundredal tax system.

The distribution of claylands was a factor in human settlement and may be roughly determined by the pattern of ponds and pits in the landscape. This diagram shows all ponds (small black dots) on the current 1:25000 map. The area includes parts of Wrentham (W), South Cove (SC), Wangford (W) and Uggeshall (U) around Frostenden (F). The larger dots represent pits and the black lines are the main north-south roads.

Many of the ponds were originally located in the corners of small fields, most of which have now been obliterated through hedgerow removal to make the fields larger. Their distribution clearly shows the predominance of deep clay to the north west.

Below is a coloured contour map of Frostenden and its neighbouring parishes to show how the village is squeezed into the Hundred boundary between Wrentham and Uggeshall. Actually it only contributes a few hundred metres to the boundary.


Purple circles are churches and the black dotted line is the Frostenden parish boundary

Moving from west to east across the map, the soils become lighter and the parish of South Cove is essentially part of the coastal sandlings. Two valleys dominate the landscape at between 5 and 10 metres above sea level. They are delineated in light green and yellow. The western edge of Frostenden runs along the watershed between the River Wang (south west corner of map; draining Uggeshall) and the Easton River, which marks the boundary between Frostenden and South Cove. At this point the Easton valley consists of wet alder carr and fen pasture, which blocks east west road communication at this point. In the Domesday survey, Frostenden is listed as having a port, which indicates that in these times the Easton River, now blocked by a sand bar at Easton Broad, was open to the sea navigable through South Cove at least as far as Frostenden Corner. The name Easton, probably refers to Easton Bavents, on the southern shore of the river estuary which has long since been lost to the sea.
There are two mysterious earthworks in South Cove. The one to the west on the 5 metre valley contour may have been connected with an ancient landing place. Excavations of the site have been inconclusive. The eastern one is probably a sand/gravel pit.

Regarding the site of the Domesday port, one possibility is Frostenden Bottom, which is at a junction of three roads (dashed lines) and the site of the first road crossing of the Easton Valley. The church is positioned at the head of this little valley and although it is off the local main road system, it is situated on a track which, as Green Lane, runs to the south of the Hundred boundary and eventually connects with the the communities of the Waveney Valley.

Another possibility for the site of the port is Frostenden Corner, which now has the highest density of farms and houses in the parish. Evidence in favour comes from the extent of the 1953 North Sea surge which carried flood water over the sand bar through Easton Broad almost up to the houses at Frostenden Corner. The sketch map on the left was made by John Holmes of Whitehouse Farm who had personal experience of the impact of this remarkable event in the parish.