Ancient timber post on display at Beccles museum

PUBLISHED: 11:38 03 August 2013 | UPDATED: 11:38 03 August 2013

Beccles Museum 
curator Jennifer McIntosh with the 2,000-year-old causeway timber on display at the museum for the first time. 

Picture: James Bass

Beccles Museum curator Jennifer McIntosh with the 2,000-year-old causeway timber on display at the museum for the first time. Picture: James Bass

(C) Archant Norfolk 2013

A timber post used by people to help them across the boggy marshes of the Waveney Valley more than 2,000 years ago has gone on display at a local museum.

The timber posts were discovered by workmen undertaking a flood defence scheme close to the River Waveney at Beccles in 2006.

At first they were thought to be a relatively modern feature because they were so well preserved.

However, when archaeologists were called in they were able to confirm that the timbers were from a much earlier construction.

In further digs during 2007 and 2009, archaeologists from Birmingham University managed to remove the posts.

The posts have been accurately dated to 75BC and were likely to have supported a 16ft causeway capable of carrying carts across the marshes and were used by men and women of the Iron Age period.

The posts were so well preserved that Jane Sidell, an English Heritage archaeological science advisor called the discovery a “nationally-important find”.

Conservation work was carried out by specialists at York Archaeological Trust.

Thanks to help from English Heritage, one of the preserved posts has gone on permanent display at Beccles museum – only a few hundred yards from where it was discovered.

“English Heritage has played a key role in helping the museum to acquire this incredible exhibit,” said museum trustee David Broom.

The museum’s curator, Jennifer McIntosh, is also excited at being able to display the ancient timber to the public.

“We are extremely excited and proud to have such a permanent exhibit on display and hope that local people and visitors will be encouraged to come and look at this marvellous piece of history while admiring some of the other archaeological items on view,” she said.

The post is about 6ft tall and with a 2ft circumference. It has a pointed end which would have been driven into the ground and notches have been carved out which would have supported timber planks to form the causeway.

“We are having to display the post with the point upwards because the experts believe the narrow point would start to crumble if too much weight was put on it,” explained Mr Broom.

Visitors are made very welcome at the Beccles and District Museum at Leman House, Ballygate, Beccles.

It is open until mid-October six afternoons a week from 1.45pm to 4.30pm.

It is usually closed on Mondays, but does open on Bank Holiday Mondays.

Entrance is free but donations are welcomed at the musuem which is run by a dedicated group of volunteers.

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