Every house in Norfolk within 200 metres of an archaeological site, find or historic building

A Roman mount, found near Norwich. Picture: Norfolk County Council. A Roman mount, found near Norwich. Picture: Norfolk County Council.

Thursday, July 31, 2014
9:07 AM

The remarkably rich heritage of Norfolk has seen more than 15,000 archaeological finds reported to council experts in just 12 months - a rate of about 40 a day.

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Following headline-grabbing discoveries such as the footprints at Happisburgh, the earliest recorded evidence of humans in Northern Europe, and the timber burial circles at Holme - archaeologists say the sheer scale of finds reflect how Norfolk is one of the best endowed heritage locations in the world.

And that, they say brings an economic boost to the county, while evidence even shows those who take an interest in heritage are happier than those who do not.

A new report also reveals that, on average, every house in Norfolk is within 200 metres of an archaeological site, find or historic building, with the county’s ground continuing to provide fascinating glimpses into the lives of our ancestors.

The historic haul is revealed in the annual report of Norfolk County Council’s Historic Environment service, which details the work of the team which records, researches and helps to protect Norfolk’s remarkable heritage.

The report shows how nearly 15,000 “finds” – mainly by metal detectorists – were sent to the county council for recording and researching during the last year alone.

Among these are a medieval knight’s gauntlet, which was dropped having never seen battle, which was found in Wymondham and a Roman cosmetic set, complete with tweezers found in the Fincham area of west Norfolk.

Other historic features which came to life during the year include the network of First World War pillboxes along the River Ant “stop line”- the first line of defence to protect Norfolk in the event of an invasion.

These and many other military sites were recorded on the ground and revealed through studies of Norfolk’s aerial photography collections.

And a previously unrecorded Second World War pillbox at Carbrooke, near Watton, was entered into the county’s records for the first time.

The pillbox had somehow never been recorded before and was only brought to the team’s attention when the parish asked the county council for advice about how to resolve the problem of children climbing on it and not being able to get down again.

The heritage team, based at Gressenhall, has also received formal and unconditional approval by the independent organisation that oversees national standards in heritage services.

The report, by inspectors from the Institute for Archaeologists, praised the team’s work, in particular highlighting its effectiveness at raising the profile of archaeology within the county cCouncil and amongst local communities.

Brian Watkins, Norfolk County Council’s heritage champion, said: “I never cease to be amazed at the wealth of archaeology and heritage that we have in Norfolk, and this latest report covers the very wide range of activities and discoveries by the county council’s heritage team over the last year.

“We are fortunate to live and work in a county with such rich heritage, which local communities and visitors can get involved in, learn from and enjoy.”

He also welcomed the institute’s findings and said: “It is good when county council services are critically reviewed by an independent external organisation and we get as clean a bill of health as has happened here.

”Having worked been working with the team for more than a year, and helping councillors across Norfolk with information about the services we provide and the heritage projects we’re involved in, it comes as no surprise to get this formal approval from this important institution.”

County archaeologist David Gurney, who leads the team of 20 archaeologists based at Gressenhall and compiled the report, said: “Heritage is important to Norfolk in so many ways, including local character, sense of place, heritage tourism, the local economy, and people’s health and well-being.

“Recent surveys show that people who get involved in heritage are happier than those who don’t, and if what we do makes peoples’ lives better then that is even more of an achievement.”

“It’s only when we produce a report like this that we realise precisely how much is going on to record and protect our heritage and how interesting and exciting that can be.”

The finds can all be viewed on the national online catalogue www.finds.org.uk, but the county council team has also added a new Find of the Month feature to its own Norfolk Heritage Explorer website.

The rarest or most interesting finds can be seen in the Find of the Month section at the www.heritage.norfolk.gov.uk site.

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