Dig sheds new light on Norfolk’s past

PUBLISHED: 09:24 18 June 2013 | UPDATED: 09:24 18 June 2013

Dr Clive Bond with a piece of green glazed Grimston wear dated 1250-1400 found at the Gaywood Valley Archaeological and Historical Project in Grimston. Picture: Ian Burt

Dr Clive Bond with a piece of green glazed Grimston wear dated 1250-1400 found at the Gaywood Valley Archaeological and Historical Project in Grimston. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2013

Archaeologists behind a project to uncover west Norfolk’s medieval heritage believe they may have stumbled upon a treasure trove of artefacts that could reveal more about a village’s age-old role as an international pottery exporter.

Experienced Cambridge University and former Time Team archaeologist Dr Carenza Lewis said the group found more in one of the 1m x 1m patches in Lynn Road, Grimston than she has ever seen in any other test pit in East Anglia.

When her ex-Time Team colleague and medieval pottery expert Paul Blinkhorn arrived the next day to take a look at the finds, he said it was likely to be Grimston-Thetford pottery dating back to the 11th century.

If on closer examination that turns out to be the case, the discoveries will add more evidence to the theory that what is today a sleepy village just a few miles north of King’s Lynn was once a significant area for pottery production.

One of the key tasks for the team behind the Gaywood Valley Archaeological and Historical Project, which has organised a series of digs and activity weekends across west Norfolk, will be to identify whether the findings match Grimston pottery remains found in Scandinavia.

All will be revealed at the project’s next Archaeological Finds Processing Day at True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum in North Street, King’s Lynn, where volunteers will wash the artefacts so they can be more easily identified.

“It was a really impressive discovery which shows this could have been a huge centre for production,” Dr Lewis said. “It is really exciting to be digging here.”

The team had already organised excavations in Fairstead, Gayton and Gaywood between March and May as part of the project supported by Cambridge University and Cambridge Community Heritage. It is also funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

About 30 residents turned out in Grimston on Saturday and Pott Row on Sunday to find out more about the history of where they live.

Not all of the discoveries were medieval. One group digging in the grounds of the old Grimston Primary School came across a large corrugated iron structure.

It turned out to be a long-lost second world war air raid shelter which had been hidden in the garden.

Resident and volunteer digger Olive Turpin explained: “We heard it was hollow and then we realised it was corrugated iron. Perhaps they just covered it over with earth because they wanted to forget about the war.”

Dr Clive Bond, director of the project, said: “People are interested in the history of where they live, how old things are and where the history of their village begins. Sometimes, people may even be competitive about where the earliest findings are! Every location will have its own little history.

“This is a first-time experience for a lot of people. There is a very simple methodology to get people to learn about, excavate and be enthused about their village, about where it’s come from and ask some serious questions about why the church is where it is, for example.”

The next dig will take place in Great Massingham on the weekend on July 27 and 28.

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