Swaffham Museum celebrates the return of archaeological treasures

A Norfolk town with links to celebrated Egyptologist Howard Carter has explored history a little closer to home with a hands-on archaeology day.

The family-friendly event, held at Swaffham Museum yesterday (Saturday) gave people the chance to see treasures found locally displayed in the town for the first time.

Experts excavating an Anglo Saxon cemetery in 1970 uncovered 19 sixth-century bodies along with dozens of grave goods including brooches, spear points and traces of textiles at the site, where The Paddocks care home now stands.

The museum was yet to be established, so the items were taken to the Norwich Castle Museum where they have remained ever since.

'Some of the items are currently on display there, but we have managed to negotiate the loan of 24 items from the reserve collection,' said chairman David Wickerson.


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'They include some fine brooches, some amber and glass beads with a silver pendant, wrist clasps and part of an Anglo Saxon spear, all found during the excavation. When they were found, Swaffham had nowhere suitable to store or display them.

'It was a great day for the museum and for Swaffham to get these artefacts back.'

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Heavy rain disrupted some of the outdoor activities, but visitors still enjoyed flint knapping and weaving displays, arts and crafts while volunteers dressed as Anglo Saxons and Howard Carter.

The renowned archaeologist, famous for discovering the tomb of Tutankhamun, was born in London but raised in Swaffham and the museum has a dedicated display area exploring his life and career.

Older residents are being invited to share their memories of the 1970 dig as part of a new �50,000 Lottery-funded heritage project recording stories of Swaffham's people, buildings and events from 1930 to 2010.

'The project is coming towards the end of its first three months and we have had a lot of very good offers of help,' Mr Wickerson added.

A team of volunteers has been recruited to record people's memories and its first training session will be held early next month.

The activity day was held as part of the 21st annual Festival of British Archaeology, running from July 16 to 31, which will see hundreds of events take place and down the country.

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