Body cameras are to be worn by staff at one of Norfolk's most remarkable archaeological sites - because of a "huge rise" in crime amid the Roman ruins.

The sharp increase in incidents - including threats of violence, anti-social behaviour and harassment - at Caistor Roman Town has sparked the unusual decision to kit out staff with cameras to catch wrongdoers.

Eastern Daily Press: The remains of the Roman town at Caistor St EdmundThe remains of the Roman town at Caistor St Edmund (Image: Archant)

Bosses at the Norfolk Archaeological Trust, which manages the 120-acre site - also known as Venta Icenorum - say incidents have soared over the past 18 months, with many triggered by dog walkers who refuse to keep their pets on leads.

They say staff working at the site, at Caistor St Edmund, south of Norwich, have reported 35 crimes to police in the past 18 months.

They include anti-social behaviour, theft, criminal damage, assault, threats of violence, dangerously out of control dogs, sheep worrying and causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress.

The trust has a grazier with sheep on the site and bosses say it is crucial dogs are kept on leads.

But some visitors have grown abusive when they have been challenged - and trust bosses hope the body cameras will make them think twice.

Eastern Daily Press: Natalie Butler, director of Norfolk Archaeological TrustNatalie Butler, director of Norfolk Archaeological Trust (Image: Norfolk Archaeological Trust)

Natalie Butler, director of the trust, which permits free public access to the site, said: "There does appear to be a group of people who are not comfortable with keeping their dogs on leads.

"They have told our staff where to go and the grazier has lost sheep because dogs have gone running through the flock.

"We are trying to create a place where people can enjoy the history and the site and this is not acceptable.

"Due to the rising crime levels, we have now taken the decision to issue our staff at Caistor Roman Town with body cameras.

"This is to give confidence to the team that any unpleasant behaviour they may experience on site can be captured and prosecutions sought."

She said rising crime levels had a "big impact" on the charity's finances, but was also "hugely demoralising and upsetting" for staff, volunteers and visitors.

Eastern Daily Press: Norfolk Archaeological Trust says nighthawkers have targeted the Caistor Roman Town siteNorfolk Archaeological Trust says nighthawkers have targeted the Caistor Roman Town site (Image: Norfolk Archaeological Trust)

The trust also says nighthawkers - who carry out illegal metal detecting under the cover of darkness - have also targeted the site, once the largest Roman settlement in East Anglia.

Norfolk police has been using drones in an effort to catch people illegally digging on sites, including Caistor St Edmund.


The town was first established in the AD70s as the capital of the Iceni tribe - whose Queen Boudicca led a revolt against the Romans.

The town's Roman name Venta Icenorum means the market of the Iceni.

But the banks and walls which can be seen at the site today date to the Romans in the 3rd century.

Eastern Daily Press: Prof Will Bowden with a 4th century AD skeleton found at a previous archaeological dig at Caistor Roman TownProf Will Bowden with a 4th century AD skeleton found at a previous archaeological dig at Caistor Roman Town (Image: Archant)

It continued to be occupied until the early 6th century - demonstrating that it retained its importance into the Anglo-Saxon period.

It was eventually abandoned in the 8th century, when Norwich became the county's most important centre.

Renewed interest in the town was initially triggered more than 90 years ago after a series of aerial photographs were taken by the RAF.

Those photographs of the parched field, published in the Times, revealed the Roman town's grid layout of streets and buildings.

Excavations were carried out in the 1930s, but the understanding of the town - and how far it spread - has been extended through a string of excavations in recent years.

This summer, volunteers and archaeologists involved with the Caistor Roman Project, carried out excavations on farmland known as Friston Field, close to where a Romano-British temple was previously located.