Sites in East Anglia that give a glimpse into the region's ancient past have been given a new status.

Introduced to England by the Normans, warrens are areas of land set aside for the breeding and management of rabbits.

Breckland became a hotspot for warrening with the landscape the largest of its kind in the country.

Eastern Daily Press: Mildenhall Warren LodgeMildenhall Warren Lodge (Image: Historic England)

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has now recognised their significance and granted the warrens special protected status.

The newly protected sites include Thetford Warren and the remains of Reed Fen Lodge, Langford Warren Lodge and Santon Downham Warren.

Caroline Skinner, East of England listing team leader at Historic England, said: “The Breckland warrens and lodges are a ghostly reminder of a high-status industry that once dominated the local landscape.

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Eastern Daily Press: Warrener at work in BrecklandWarrener at work in Breckland (Image: Friends of Thetford Forest)

"Protecting these rare structures helps to ensure that the agricultural history of East Anglia can be discovered and understood."

The warrens used to run as businesses with many being owned by monasteries and once the monks had taken their supply they were sold on. 

Local factories in Brandon and Thetford created felt from the fur exporting as far afield as South America.

Eastern Daily Press: Breckland Warrens warren bankBreckland Warrens warren bank (Image: Friends of Thetford Forest)

Warrens continued to be used until they declined with agricultural changes in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 

The planting of Thetford Forest in the 1920s by the Forestry Commission conserved the warren banks and lodge sites beneath the trees. 

New research undertaken by the Breckland Society and Friends of Thetford Forest identified 26 warrens north from Baron Mills to Brandon - giving a glimpse into the ancient land and its agricultural past.

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Eastern Daily Press: Ickburgh WarrenIckburgh Warren (Image: Friends of Thetford Forest)Anne Mason, chair of the Friends of Thetford Forest, added: “From my very earliest days researching the warrens in the 2000s, I realised that the banks and lodge sites were very important survivals of an industry which has vanished from the landscape."