Celebration of archaeological project which gave new insights into West Norfolk’s past

Gaywood Valley Archaeological Project. Dr Mary Chester-Kadwell, Keith Robinson and Dr Clive Bond sur

Gaywood Valley Archaeological Project. Dr Mary Chester-Kadwell, Keith Robinson and Dr Clive Bond surveying Reffley spring well. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

A weekend of events is to be held to celebrate a year of archaeological digs which have shed a new light on Norfolk's past.

Dr Clive Bond said the Gaywood Valey Archaeological and Historical Project helped to bring communities together to learn about their history.

He also said the digs - which took place in areas such as Fairstead, Gayton, Gaywood, Grimston and Reffley - revealed that settlements in those places were being formed earlier than first thought.

'Across the different events we have managed to get different bits and pieces that relate to different periods of time,' said Dr Bond, including a 10th century brooch which showed the Vikings may have settled in Congham.

'People have been very interested in the project and have learned more about the history of where they live and, in some cases, even their own gardens.

'There has been a real buzz at the events and it has brought different communities together.'

Other significant discoveries during the project - which ran from March to October and benefited from a Heritage Lottery Fund grant - included a treasure trove of artefacts that revealed Grimston's age-old role as a pottery exporter, as well as an Iron Age sword in Congham.

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A Germanic token unveiled in Great Massingham also showed the area's Hanseatic links. A flint handaxe circa 400,000 BC was found in Fairstead.

The digs have attracted notable archaeologists such as former Time Team experts Dr Carenza Lewis and Paul Blinkhorn and have mainly consisted of digging 1m x 1m test pits in a variety of locations.

However the volunteers have also used metal detectors to help pinpoint interesting areas to dig underground.

After each dig members of the public have then been invited to help wash artefacts at the King's Lynn True's Yard Fisherfolk Museum, so they can better evaluate each item.

The weekend of events will include a display of project findings at True's Yard and a showing of artefacts on the second floor of Marriott's Warehouse.

Marriott's Warehouse will also be the venue for two celebration events at 7pm both today and tomorrow, where people will be able to listen to presentations about the project and its findings.

The project funding was for a year but Dr Bond is hopeful cash will be granted for future projects.

Are you organising a community project in West Norfolk? Contact Andrew Papworth on 01553 778681 or email andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk