December 10 2013 Latest news:
By Andrew Papworth
Thursday, October 3, 2013
A Viking brooch from the 10th century and an Iron Age sword were found in fields around the West Norfolk village of Congham during one of the area’s most revealing archaeological digs.
A team led by King’s Lynn archaeologist Dr Clive Bond were using metal detectors to help them discover items of historical significance when they picked up something buried underneath the surface.
After a little digging in a series of 1m x 1m test pits nearby, the volunteers from the Gaywood Valley Archaeological and Historical Project found a range of pottery items dating back to Roman times, as well as a bell dated from the 16th or 17 centuries.
They showed there had been settlements created even before the village’s first church was built – but the pick of the bunch was the Viking brooche, which was beautifully laced with designs of dragons and serpents.
It is thought to be more than 1,000 years old and, experts believe, shows that the Vikings – who were famous for their wooden longships which could land on beaches – moved to west Norfolk and settled here.
Dr Bond said the brooches, which were found during the dig over the weekend of September 21 and 22, were “quite elusive in archaeology”.
He added: “It is a key find and a first for the project.
“We also found a Roman brooch from about the first century AD and, very close to those finds, there was a full piece of a late Iron Age sword, which shows there was clearly settlement and Iron Age activity.
“We think they are important finds.”
The archaeologists gathered at True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum in King’s Lynn last weekend for a finds processing day, where they cleaned the items they had found, so they could tell more about their history and where they came from.
The project, which is supported by Cambridge University and Cambridge Community Heritage and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has already organised excavations in Fairstead, Gayton, Gaywood, Grimston and Great Massingham since March this year.
For those events, the team identified a series of areas there they would dig test pits to see what they could find.
However for the Congham dig, a different technique was introduced where metal detectors were used to ascertain where items might be, so test pit locations could be targeted.
The seventh and last dig in the series takes place in the Reffley area over the weekend of October 19 and 20 and a conference is planned for the end of the year to review the project’s finding over the year.
Earlier in the project Dr Bond said: “People are interested in the history of where they live, how old things are and where the history of their village begins. Every location will have its own little history.”