Discovery of nationally significant Bronze Age settlement found on NDR route

Archaeological digs prior to the start of the NDR construction unveils interesting finds. Pictured a

Archaeological digs prior to the start of the NDR construction unveils interesting finds. Pictured are Tom Phillips, project manager Oxford Archaeology east David Gurney County Archaeologist - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

It is a road for the future but it has helped unearth a significant find from our past – a Mid Bronze Age settlement the like of which has never been seen.

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Archaeologists working along the route of the £178.95m Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NDR) have uncovered a number of interesting finds but perhaps none as important as what was discovered at Horsford.

Excavations carried out in the Bell Farm area appear to have found evidence of a settlement dating back to the Mid Bronze Age which is made up of field systems and structures separated by lots of post holes rather than ditches which is more common.

Tom Phillips, senior project manager from Oxford Archaeology East, said: 'There aren't any known parallels for it as of yet that we can find for the period so, as it stands, it's very significant because nothing like it has been found before.

'It's potentially of national significance for the study of Bronze Age settlements in Britain.'


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Mr Phillips said the post holes would have been put in to 'look visually impressive' and would have taken 'quite an investment of labour'.

Finds made at the settlement area, which is incorporated within about a hectare and a half of field systems, include struck and burnt flint, pottery dating from the Mid to Late Bronze Age and even a spindle wheel.

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David Gurney, historic environment manager at Norfolk County Council, said the discovery of the settlement would 'be of interest nationally'.

He said: 'I think it's the first time in Norfolk that we've seen such a huge area of Middle Bronze Age settlement.

'I can't think of a similar development of that size which has uncovered so much Bronze Age material.

'We've seen smaller areas, in Hunstanton, but not of this size and not of this scale. I can't think of any other site which matches it, so in terms of our understanding of Middle Bronze Age settlements it's really very important indeed.'

Archaeologists will now spend the next six months compiling a report of the discoveries made as part of the work along the route of the NDR, including the settlement at Horsford which has been mapped out using GPS.

Artefacts found as part of the archeological dig on the NDR are being catalogued and will in time be sent to Norwich Castle Museum where they will be displayed in the future.

But it is not just items from the distant past that were found.

Parts of the wreckage of an American P-51D Mustang fighter plane, which crashed in Rackheath on April 22, 1945, have also been found.

Mr Gurney admitted the discoveries made along the 20km road which is set to open to traffic by Christmas next year, had been 'exciting'.

He said: 'One never knows what's going to be found when you dig along a route like the NDR but I think it's fair to say what's been found has probably surpassed our expectations.'

An exhibition featuring some of the finds will be held at Holy Trinity Church in Rackheath on Saturday, October 1. The exhibition will take place between 11am and 2.30pm.

Have you discovered an interesting historical artefact? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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