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Norwich's Earlham Park reveals its secrets

Earlham Hall at its height

Earlham Hall at its height

Archant

Ever wondered what those mysterious lumps and bumps were in Earlham Park?

Their secrets and others were revealed to a lucky group of amateur archaeologists and historians at the weekend as part of the annual Festival of British Archaeology.

Dr Sarah Spooner, of the School of History, University of East Anglia, conducted the guided tours of the park that revealed its landscape history.

The walks looked at the earthworks, old trees and historic maps and illustrations to try and understand the development of the landscape.

Each walk encompassed three different parts of the park looking at the pre-parkland landscape, Earlham Hall and the dovecote on the other side of the park that dates back to the early 18th century.

Dr Spooner said: “The pre-parkland landscape dates back to the medieval period, so what is now Earlham Park, in medieval times would have been farmland.

“The park was created on top of this farmland in the 18th century, but you can still make out an old medieval road from the 15th or 16th centuries, and some of the trees are 600-years-
old.

“Earlham Hall was built in the 1500s and then rebuilt in the 1640s in the latest fashion.

“On the other side of the park, the main building is a square dovecote that dates back to the early 18th century.”

And if you wondered what those lumps and bumps were, Dr Spooner has the answer. “They are man-made earthworks, a result of past human activity on the site, that has resulted in the lumps and bumps on the landscape.”

One of those taking part on the tour was Frank Meeres, from the Norfolk Record Office, who has written several books on the Norwich area.

He said: “You can always learn something new through the eyes of an expert.”

The tour was one of more than 600 festival events happening around the country, ranging from excavation digs, talks by professionals and the good old family fun day.

Dr Spooner hopes to arrange more historic tours in the coming months, before next week’s festival.

Have you organised a guided tour of historic Norwich in the next few months? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email archant.co.uk.

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