Farming in the Stone Age

Next time you see a farmer rumbling through the fields sat in a heated tractor cab ­- spare a thought for his Stone Age ancestors.

Next time you see a farmer rumbling through the fields in a heated tractor cab ­ - spare a thought for his Stone Age ancestors.

Naked, barefoot, and armed only with rudimentary tools, they toiled all day to harvest their crops, exposed to the full force of the elements.

Norfolk's illustrious farming history, which goes back more than 10,000 years, will be displayed at a new gallery at a museum from this half term.

The exhibition, being put together at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, near Dereham, traces man's earliest attempts to domesticate plants and animals - as visitor numbers at the attraction broke records for the fourth successive year.


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The popularity of the old workhouse, which has seen visitors up by around 40pc to 70,000 so far this year, has been put down to a new adventure playground, and enactment days, by museum manager Stuart Gillis.

He said the event days, where actors recreated history by dressing up in period costumes, were popular because they "brought the past alive."

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And the past is set to be recreated every day, with the museum open all the year round, he said, if the planned first-time Christmas opening, was successful.

"This year we had 20 enactment days, next year there will be 90, and within two or three years every visitor will be able to experience it," he said.

Highlights of the gallery, called Norfolk's First Farmers, include a nationally famous 11,500-year-old antler harpoon used for hunting, which was dredged up from the sea floor north of Cromer in 1931, and a bronze-age cauldron.

A demonstration of how Stone Age delicacies were prepared is taking place at the museum from next Monday to Friday.

Apple Day, Gressenhall museum's celebration of all things autumnal, is tomorrow. Visitors can see cider pressing, taste apple juices or go on an orchard walk.

For information about these events contact the museum on 01362 860563 or visit www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk

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