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Find shows Great Massingham's Hanseatic links

PUBLISHED: 09:22 05 August 2013 | UPDATED: 09:41 05 August 2013

Dr Paul Richards has a closer look at one of the major finds of the Great Massingham dig - a Nuremberg copper Jetton of Hans Krauwinckel from 1586-1635. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Dr Paul Richards has a closer look at one of the major finds of the Great Massingham dig - a Nuremberg copper Jetton of Hans Krauwinckel from 1586-1635. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2013

A discovery made by a community archaeology project has shown signs of West Norfolk's historical significance.

The Gaywood Valley Archaeological and Historical Project has carried out a number of digs at different sites across the valley.

Run by the West Norfolk and King’s Lynn Archeological Society, the project has unearthed a Germanic token, at Great Massingham, which demonstrates the areas Hanseatic links.

The Nuremberg jeton is dated between 1586 and 1635 and would have been used as a counter for a merchant to keep count of his stock.

Project director Dr Clive Bond believes this coin shows the extent of King’s Lynn’s reach as a trading port.

“The jeton demonstrates the Hanseatic connections of the Gaywood river community,” said Dr Bond.

“It demonstrates that a counting device was used at a fair in the area, it is not coinage. There would have been fairs at Great Massingham from medieval times.

“The rivers were an important transport route to the area and the river Nar was a route into the heart of Norfolk.”

The copper alloy jeton is believed to have belonged to German merchant Hans Krauwinckel.

King’s Lynn’s port was a source of goods such as wax, fish and tar from Hanseatic towns and the finding shows the extent of the port’s reach.

Society president Dr Paul Richards said: “All these villages in West Norfolk and Cambridge relied on the port of Lynn to get goods.

“There were no big lorries, no big roads for them and no railways. The Ouse and its tributaries, of which Gaywood River is one, were vital. The stone to build King’s College, Cambridge, was brought by sea from Yorkshire through Lynn.”

The project is aiming to help educate people about their heritage as well as getting more people involved in archaeology.

Dr Bond said: “The key thing is to get people doing their own archaeology and finding out about their own heritage.

“Most finds are recovered by amateurs just going out and digging. We want to educate people about the process and the scientific aspect of archaeology in a friendly environment.”

Dr Richards added: “It’s about making archaeology more accessible to the public. There is so much history left under the ground just waiting to be discovered.”

The project was launched in March after the society received Heritage Lottery funding. Since then archaeologists have worked at numerous sites including Fairstead, Gayton, Gaywood and Grimston.

Next weekend on Sunday, August 11, the Archeological Society will be holding a barbecue and dig at Lynn’s Hanse house. Visitors will be able to dig in a test pit as well as enjoying food and drink.

Tickets cost £10 and are available from True’s Yard Museum, North Street, and Denver Mills restaurant at the Hanse House, South Quay. Funds raised by the day will be going towards the Marriott’s Warehouse Trust.



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