Sedgeford dig uncovers the lifestyle of Anglo-Saxon Norfolk

Volunteer archaeologists digging trenches in Sedgeford to uncover the history of the village's past.

Volunteer archaeologists digging trenches in Sedgeford to uncover the history of the village's past. Picture: SHARP - Credit: SHARP

The extraordinary archaeological findings in a Norfolk village hold some clues to how the Anglo-Saxons lived in the area.

39 coins from the ice age were discovered in Sedgeford. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

39 coins from the ice age were discovered in Sedgeford. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY - Credit: Archant

History enthusiasts have worked through sun, rain and storm this season for the 22nd Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project (SHARP).

Since 1996, SHARP has uncovered an 8th century cemetery, dubbed Boneyard Field, and has excavated close to 400 human remains.

Researchers believe the arable lands made the area suitable for human settlement - and further excavation of the fields could reveal more human bones.

SHARP director Gary Rossin said: 'This could hold 800 skeletons. We believe we may have found half by extrapolating what we have got. It was a time when Christianity was getting a hold, it came and organised the settlement.'

A trench being dug to reveal the clay ovens beneath the soil, used for cereal processing in the Angl

A trench being dug to reveal the clay ovens beneath the soil, used for cereal processing in the Anglo-Saxon era. Picture: Matthew Usher.


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Layered in history dating as far back as 800BC, the volunteer archeologists have dug through 8ft of soil to find evidence of human life from the Iron Age and Roman period.

This season, assistant director John Jolleys said the project team has worked on a river valley, which would have been carved out during the last Ice Age.

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Since beginning excavation of this area in 2013, they have uncovered large cereal processing ovens built nearly 1,300 years ago.

The clay-lined ovens were marked with fingerprints, and further analysis found that some belonged to children as young as eight years old.

The Sedgeford dig continues for another summer. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The Sedgeford dig continues for another summer. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Evidence of wheat, rye and barley may suggest the ovens were used for more than domestic purposes and to produce beer.

'It was quite a food for them,' Mr Jolleys said. 'Even children would have had weakened beer.'

Close to the ovens was evidence of burning, which Mr Jolleys said is a stack of grain which caught fire.

The possibilities of how the fire began could explain how people lived in the area.

The SHARP volunteers built a bloomery furnace, a device used by the Roman to smelt iron. Picture: Ar

The SHARP volunteers built a bloomery furnace, a device used by the Roman to smelt iron. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

'They were either really careless or they upset somebody,' Mr Jolleys said.

'In the cemetery we found three well-built men who were victims of very serious axe trauma, and we have dated them back to somewhere between 750AD to 770AD.'

The excavation season will end on August 11. Visitors are encouraged to visit the site and join the programme of courses on offer.

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