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Seahenge set for final resting place

PUBLISHED: 08:58 17 August 2007 | UPDATED: 13:24 22 October 2010

Seahenge - set for a permanent home in Norfolk

Seahenge - set for a permanent home in Norfolk

Norfolk's famous Bronze Age timber circle has finally returned to the county ready to take pride of place in a flagship exhibition. The finishing touches are being put to the 4,000-year-old timbers of Seahenge at the county's Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse near Dereham before it is transported to its permanent home in King's Lynn.

Norfolk's famous Bronze Age timber circle has finally returned to the county ready to take pride of place in a flagship exhibition.

The finishing touches are being put to the 4,000-year-old timbers of Seahenge at the county's Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse near Dereham before it is transported to its permanent home in King's Lynn.

A display of the iconic Seahenge, which was controversially excavated from the shoreline at Holme near Hunstanton in 1999, is set to be the crowning glory of a £1.1m museum redevelopment at King's Lynn, due to open in Easter.

Half the 55 oak posts and central upturned tree stump, which were all that remained of a structure built by an inland farming community in the spring or early summer of 2,049BC, will go on display at the museum, while the rest will be kept off display for research.

All the timbers have undergone specialist conservation at the Mary Rose Trust in Portsmouth.

Work has included immersing the timbers in a liquid wax solution, which replaced the water and supported the cell structure.

The timbers were then freeze-dried to remove any remaining water.

John Gretton, cabinet member for cultural services and adult education at Norfolk County Council, said: “Seahenge is an iconic and unique find as land-built henges are known only fro excavation of postholes following cropmark identification from the air.

“The original function of seahenge is mysterious and yet to be interpreted and I hope that visitors will flock to the newly restored King's Lynn museum to speculate on the ancient meaning behind the timbers which we have been able to rescue for all time from further damage.”

The timbers on show will be displayed glass cases in a semi-circular arrangement, with the rest of the circle being completed by a replica, made of wood, which people will be able to touch.

Artist visuals will show people how the timbers would have looked in situ when the structure was built on what was originally an area of saltmarsh.

And there will even be the smell of oak, supplied by a specialist aroma firm, wafting through the gallery.

Dr Robin Hanley, area museums officer for King's Lynn and west Norfolk, Norfolk Museum and Archaeology service, said: “This is a really exciting time for us, leading up to the opening of the new Seahenge gallery in 2008.

“It is fantastic that this find of international significance is returning to west Norfolk, where it will play a key part in telling the West Norfolk Story in the wonderful new displays at the Lynn Museum.”

The makeover was funded with the help of a £778,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as Norfolk County Council and the DCMS/Wolfson Foundation.

t The EDP is being given unprecedented access to the timbers and the experts working on them next week.

To find out more about what has happened to them since being excavated in 1999, and what is happening to them now at Gressenhall, plus artist's impressions of what the new display in King's Lynn is going to look like, buy next Thursday's EDP.


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