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Norfolk’s hidden ruins revealed as the dry summer makes its mark

PUBLISHED: 14:33 11 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:58 12 July 2018

Aerial view of crop marks in south Norfolk. Picture: Mike Page

Aerial view of crop marks in south Norfolk. Picture: Mike Page

Copyright www.mike-page.co.uk

One of the driest summers on record is helping to reveal some of Norfolk’s hidden history.

Aerial view of crop marks in Norfolk. Pictured: Reedham. Picture: Mike PageAerial view of crop marks in Norfolk. Pictured: Reedham. Picture: Mike Page

While the heatwave may be leaving some farmers fearing for their crops, one Norfolk farmer is delighting in the Roman ruins the dry spell has revealed on his land.

Chris Skinner’s farm is a stone’s throw away from the Roman town remains in Caistor St Edmund, near Norwich, where the dry weather has also highlighted the outlines of ancient Roman road patterns.

And while Mr Skinner has known for a long time of the ancient history buried beneath High Ash Farm, it has taken one of the driest summers since 1976 to reveal the usually hidden ruins of a Roman-Celtic temple on his land in the form of scorch marks.

Mr Skinner said: “The last bit of rain we had was five millimetres on May 27. The farm is parched and that is why the crop marks have appeared.”

aerial view of crop marks in Norfolk. Picture: Mike Pageaerial view of crop marks in Norfolk. Picture: Mike Page

He explained that as the land dries in the hot weather the grass above the ruins dies, creating scorch marks revealing the outline of walls. Mr Skinner added: “It’s amazing to see these buildings and they’re big, it’s like walking into a church.”

A passionate historian, Mr Skinner, who has lived on the farm his whole life, said: “There is so much we don’t know about these people because it’s nearly 2,000 years ago but because of relics we can discover a huge amount.

“There was an excavation in 1953 and they found a few Iceni coins and they are beautiful and absolutely stunning, they were remarkable artists and clever and I have a huge amount of respect for them. I’m in awe of them simply because they lived in harmony with the environment.”

But it is not just Mr Skinner who is enjoying the usually hidden ruins, archaeologists are also enjoying the monuments the dry spell is revealing.

Chris Skinner of High Ash farm in Caistor St Edmund where the recent dry weather has revealed crop marks showing the outline of a Roman-Celtic temple . Photo: Steve AdamsChris Skinner of High Ash farm in Caistor St Edmund where the recent dry weather has revealed crop marks showing the outline of a Roman-Celtic temple . Photo: Steve Adams

Mike Pinner, project manager for The Caistor Roman Town Project, said: “The area is a hugely significant site for a number of reasons.

“It’s a complex that has been known about for some time and there has been some work on the site but further evaluations to discover what is there would be wonderful.”


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