Build it and they will come: New discovery trail to put Deep History Coast on map
They form one of the fastest receding coastlines in Europe; but the soft sand and clay cliffs of north Norfolk also hold the secrets to the country’s past.
Considered to be the best place to study Ice Age geology in the UK, the most dramatic finds unearthed to date have been the almost complete skeleton of a Steppe Mammoth discovered at West Runton in 1990 and 850,000 year-old footprints of a wandering family group of ancient humans exposed by the pounding waves at Happisburgh in 2013.
Now North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) has revealed plans to link the discoveries with a new trail between Weybourne and Cart Gap, along a waymarked coastal path, as part of its proposals to transform the area into a living landscape museum and rebrand it the Deep History Coast.
It is hoped the move will encourage more overnight visitors to the area and generate an extra £35m for the local economy in its first two years.
The local authority’s vision, which is currently the subject of a £2m bid to the Coastal Communities Fund, includes the creation of a new geology hub at Cromer Museum and improved toilet facilities at West Runton and Cart Gap, with new buildings which will also house an exhibition space; as well as story boards, sculptures and interactive displays.
And, if the plans are approved this spring, work would have to be completed within two years.
NNDC leader Tom FitzPatrick said: “This is really exciting, discoveries are happening all the time. This is an area of world importance and what we want to do is link the whole coast.”
The local authority revealed it wants to recruit local residents as volunteer ambassadors to sell north Norfolk as a desintation to visitors by displaying Deep History Coast branding in their shops and businesses.
And, with more discoveries waiting to be unearthed, the team behind the project believes, if successful, it could become even bigger than the Jurassic Coast in the south of England.
Dr David Waterhouse, senior curator of natural history at Norfolk Museums Service, said: “In five years time we hope it’s going to be as big as Jurassic Coast. It’s started off small and it will hopefully snowball.
“We’re fascinated about our own ancenstry and we’ve got evidence of four species of human in Norfolk, nowhere else in northern Europe has got that.”