Dig unearths picture of ancient Norfolk

SUE SKINNER It has already provided a series of fascinating snapshots of early life in a Norfolk village. And now an annual dig at Sedgeford, near Hunstanton, is providing more pieces of the jigsaw, as archaeologists slowly build up a complete picture of the life of the community.

SUE SKINNER

It has already provided a series of fascinating snapshots of early life in a Norfolk village.

And now an annual dig at Sedgeford, near Hunstanton, is providing more pieces of the jigsaw, as archaeologists slowly build up a complete picture of the life of the community.

The main focus of the 11th season of summer excavations by the award-winning Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project (SHARP) is the site of an Iron Age farm, which is thought to have been taken over by the Romans following their invasion.

The dig, which started earlier this month, has already uncovered plenty of Roman pottery and part of what is believed to be a fine drinking vessel, indicating that there was a domestic settlement in the area as well.

SHARP, based in a field known locally as Boneyard, began in 1996 and has grown to be the country's largest project for volunteer archaeologists from around the world.

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Discoveries to date include more than 270 skeletons unearthed from a Saxon cemetery, a hoard of Iron Age coins concealed in a cow's leg bone and the long lost end of a torc.

"People associate us with the skeletons, but we are probably going to come to the end of those before long," said publicity officer Chris Mackie.

"It was the Saxon cemetery which started us off, but of course we have expanded all over the village and done all sorts of things - the church and finding one of the early manor houses.

"A lot of them we can't take visitors to because it's on sensitive, private land, but Boneyard is the one everyone can come and look at."

The project has also involved field-walking and geophysical surveys, as well as excavations in local gardens.

"It's trying to get a complete picture of when man has come to Sedgeford, right through to modern times," said Mr Mackie.

"All the time we hope to fill in all the blanks so we can get a continuous look at the development of Sedgeford."

The season runs until August 18 and the main site is open to visitors from 11am to 4pm every day except Saturdays. The annual open day takes place on Sunday (10am-4pm), when a range of attractions will include a display of artefacts found by the project, re-enactments and the chance for children to make pottery.