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Picture gallery: Archaeologists delve into Norwich's past at YMCA site

PUBLISHED: 19:44 26 January 2011

It will soon provide somewhere for young homeless people to sleep but archaeologists have been discovering how our ancestors used to live on the site many years ago.

Archaeological digs have been taking place at the site of the former YMCA building which has just been knocked down in Bethel Street, Norwich.

The back part of the YMCA’s current building has been demolished to make way for a new development which will include 40 self-contained units for homeless young people.

Artefacts discovered on the site include ancient steps which are believed to date back to 1075 and bits of pottery.

Soil from the site will be analysed to give an indication of what people used to eat and an intact beetle, thought to be a few hundred years old, was discovered on the site.

Tim Sweeting, chief executive of YMCA Norfolk, said: “It has been wonderful to have the opportunity to delve into the history of Norwich through this archaeological dig and there has been much of interest.

“The YMCA itself has a long history of over 100 years of providing services to young people on the site and we are very excited that the new building will pave the way for another 100 plus years of supporting the young people of our community.”

As part of the £4.4m redevelopment project, which is being carried out by Lovell, people are being urged to buy one or more of the 70,000 bricks that will be required for the new complex.

The charity needs £1m towards the scheme and just £1 will cover the cost of each brick, mortar and labour required for the development.

It is hoped that this part of the YMCA’s £1m appeal will enable the charity to receive small amounts of money from as wide a cross-section of the community as possible with a view to making long-term friends and supporters.

Names of all those who have donated, whether they are individuals, community groups, churches or schools, will be displayed in a permanent exhibit in the new development.

Once complete, in early 2012, the three and four-storey development will provide ‘move-on’ accommodation helping young homeless people prepare for pathways to independence.

This Saturday, YMCA Norfolk will host its Sleep Easy event at St Peter Mancroft Church, opposite the Forum.

More than 40 people will sleep rough for the night to raise awareness of homelessness and to raise funds to help tackle the problem.

For more information about the Sleep Easy event go to www.ymca-norfolk.org.uk. To donate to the Brick Appeal, go to www.justgiving.com/ymca-1m-appeal

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