New lease of life for Breckland visitor attraction
14:44 16 April 2014
© Archant Norfolk 2014
Hopes are high that visitor numbers at a Breckland heritage site will double after the venue was given a new lease of life.
The Cockley Cley Giant
-It is the skeleton of an early Bronze Age man
-The man was buried in 1800 BC
-He was 1.77 metres or 5ft 10in tall which was well
above the average height of people at that time
-He was in his 50s when he died
-His remains were discovered in 1963 at a tumulus (burial mound) on the Cockley Cley estate
The Iceni Village, just south of Swaffham, has been renamed as the Iceni Centre and will reopen its doors for the season this Easter weekend.
As part of the refurbishment programme, the main farm building has been redecorated and reorganised to include a new entrance area, an exhibition of 1800 carriages and what is hoped to be the main attraction – a showroom displaying the remains of a 4,000-year-old Bronze Age giant.
It is hoped the attraction will be able to help double its number of visitors from 10,000 to 20,000.
Sir Samuel Roberts, who owns the site and lives at nearby Cockley Cley Hall, said: “As an Iceni Village, it had lost its way. Nothing had been done on it for 20 years and we had tried various projects that hadn’t drawn in any more visitors.
“We have changed the emphasis and now it is a place to explore all the genuine and historic artefacts, including the genuinely phenomenal Cockley Cley giant.”
The museum complex was founded by Sir Samuel’s father, also Sir Samuel, in 1975 after he had become interested in the history of the area.
It had become a mock Iceni Village and what has been described as an “inaccurate historic attraction”.
But now, under the first phase of improvements, it has reverted back to the original conception: a place where people can discover real historical artefacts from Breckland.
As well as the Cockley Cley giant, the Iceni Centre is home to historic carriages, carts and agricultural equipment, an intricate model of the Battle of Waterloo, an Elizabethan cottage and a Saxon church.
The former Iceni Village area has been turned into a picnic area and there is now a nature trail where families can explore the surrounding area.
Manager Andy Partridge said: “We wanted to improve the facilities for the public and change the ethos.
“It’s moved from being an inaccurate historic attraction to being an eclectic mix of historical agricultural equipment and local history.
“We wanted to raise the standard of presentation throughout the whole complex.”
The next phase of refurbishment will start in October.
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