Friary ruins at Thetford Grammar School
Castle Rising Church
Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum, East Dereham
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NNAS News

A letter from the new President - Andy Hutcheson

Andy HutchesonI was delighted to be elected as president of the Society at the AGM last Saturday. Thank you to all those who attended the AGM – and thank you to my predecessor, Sophie Cabot for an excellent four years as president. I thought by way of introduction that I would give you a bit of insight into my interest in archaeology and my thoughts for the future.

I have been fascinated by archaeology and history from a young age, and as a child was drawn to books on ‘cave-men’. As my reading developed, I discovered cave-men lived in a period that was actually called the Palaeolithic, but that was some years later. Growing up on the west coast of Canada I also became interested in the indigenous art and culture of the Nuu-Chah-Nualth, Salish and Haida peoples, with school trips to the Museum of British Columbia. Later I became interested in the archaeology of the near east and Mediterranean and my fate was sealed by a visit to Italy when I was 12 which included a tour of Pompei.

I eventually did a degree in archaeological science at the University of Bradford, and my career in archaeology proper began in the mid-1980s working in Scotland, mostly on urban sites. Throughout most of my career I have been a general practitioner but have tended to gravitate towards urban archaeology. At the end of the 1990s I directed the excavations at the Millennium Library site here in Norwich. Later I provided advice on archaeology within the planning system, again here in Norfolk. More recently still, I completed a PhD on the development of early medieval towns in East Anglia.

Norfolk is where I have spent the last 22 years. The County’s heritage and archaeological richness is unsurpassed and constantly throws up surprises. We boast the earliest evidence for human activity in western Europe at Happisburgh, epitomised by the footprints dating from almost 1 million years ago, and have in our county a set of extraordinary middle Palaeolithic remains at Lynford dating from 60,000 years ago. Norfolk is home to one of largest Neolithic flint mines in the country at Grimes Grave, and there is an emerging story of Bronze Age and Iron Age settlement and field systems now being exposed through the combination of aerial photographic mapping, excavation and metal detecting. The pinnacle of our prehistoric remains is perhaps the collection of gold torcs found at Snettisham, representing the height of pre-Roman culture. But, equally, the county’s Roman archaeological remains are of the highest quality, with a number of rich villa sites, a small town and the fort of Burgh Castle.

The work of liaison between metal detector users and archaeologists was pioneered in Norfolk by the late Tony Gregory and by Andrew Rogerson. Perhaps more than any other activity this work has transformed our understanding of Norfolk’s past from later prehistory through to recent periods. My own period of interest, which focused on the early medieval development of towns in East Anglia, has been utterly transformed through this work. The combination of metal detecting and systematic collection of plough-zone artefacts, particularly pottery, in Norfolk’s arable dominated landscape, has provided more data on the past than we are able to interpret. We are also fortunate to have wealth of information from meticulous excavation, with projects such as that at Caistor, and the long standing Sedgeford project providing deeper understanding of our Roman and early medieval, or Anglo-Saxon remains.

By the end of the medieval period Norfolk was clearly one of the most populous and wealthy places in western Europe; with a greater number of parishes and churches than anywhere else. This is a huge legacy that provides great scope for research. Norfolk also boasts a jewel of a city in Norwich and the two great maritime ports of King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth. The news this week that Norwich Castle has attracted £9.5m of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund is great news and will be a huge educational boon to the study of the medieval city.

Dynamism is a by-word for the county throughout the Renaissance and into the modern period, and the massive mercantile and agricultural transformations are reflected in the landscape and built environment of today. One of the legacies of these later periods is the network of railways, and it is great to see the county council and HLF investing in these with a view to enabling people to access the countryside, and ultimately, the historic environment.

There is much to be excited about by the archaeology of this county, and much to be proud of in this society’s work conducted by members since its inception in 1846. It is my ambition that NNAS continues to move forward and develop, reaching more people, and championing the archaeology of Norfolk. I would like to thank Sophie Cabot, out last President, for her excellent and tireless work engaging young people, particularly through her work with the Young Archaeologists Club. This is something I would like to see the society continue to build on. I would also like to see the society continue to work closely with projects such as the Aylsham Roman Project and SHARP, and continue to build our detailed knowledge of Norfolk’s past. I am also keen to see the society maintain and build links with other organisations locally, such as the Norfolk Archaeological Trust.

I am also keen to see work continue on the digitisation of our journal. This is an excellent publication, and as it becomes available digitally, it has the potential to bring a wealth of information to a much wider audience.
I am constantly awed by the knowledge and learned achievements of my fellow society members and look forward to working with you all. We are living in a period of great change and it is to the past that we must look for inspiration, and we must take that inspiration into the future.

Andy Hutcheson, 3 October 2018

Book offer

Brian Ayers' very informative and well received recent book, The German Ocean. Medieval Europe around the North Sea, is now available in paperback. The publishers, Equinox, are offering a discount of 25% on both the hardback and paperback editions. Enter the code ARCHAEOLOGY at the checkout on their website. A flyer with more details is available for download here.

Newsletter

If you have anything to contribute to the newsletter - reports on fieldwork, adverts for lectures, society news, etc. - please send it to the newsletter editor by the end of March for inclusion in the Spring issue or the end of August for inclusion in the Autumn issue.

December 2017 lecture

The December lecture on Great Ryburgh was so popular that it was standing room only! Luckily for those who missed out, we've uploaded a video to YouTube, which you can access here.

2017 Excursion to Inverness

Some of Derek Leak's pictures taken during this event are now available to view online at our Facebook page. Click here to view them - you should be able to see this page even if you are not a Facebook member.

Next Summer

Council would welcome your suggestions for next year’s summer excursions – where would you like to visit that is normally closed to the public or otherwise ‘out of bounds’? Would you like the society to run day schools or other meetings in the summer? Send your ideas to our new Excursions Secretary, Margaret Gooch (excursions@nnas.info).

2018 4-day Excursion

We are planning a visit to Nottingham for the four days, Friday, September 21st to 24th. Most of the trip will be organised by Dr Will Bowden of Nottingham University. He is the mastermind behind all the recent work at Caistor St Edmunds and has been a member of the Society's Council. We cannot yet provide you with a programme except to say that on the Monday we are to visit Cresswell Crags and Bolsover Castle. A preliminary booking form is now available (see menu to right).

News from other groups

Links are to external websites or downloads

Hidden Heritage of the Gaywood River

WNKLAS, in partnership with Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council and NCC Libraries, is running a series of free community archaeology outreach events this summer (2nd May to 19th September), including Heritage Skills Roadshows, Mini 'Time Team' excavations and artefact day schools. A flyer is available here.

Breckland Society

Volume 1 of the Journal of Breckland Studies was published in 2017 and is freely available online here. Volume 2 will be published in June 2018. A pdf flyer with more details can be downloaded here.

Trailing the Hidden Heritage of High Lodge, Thetford Forest

There are various activities relating to this HLF funded project to make a new trail into the forest which will link and interpret its landscape history, wildlife and forest management. Several archaeology days are planned - see the website for more details, here, or on their facebook page @highlodgethetford.

New Books

Andrew Moore, Nathan Flis, and Francesca Vanke, editors, The Paston Treasure: Microcosm of the Known World (Yale Center for British Art and Norfolk Museums Service; New Haven and London, 2018). This sumptuously produced book contains the catalogue and essays designed to accompany the exhibition at the Castle Museum that opened at the end of June.

Archaeopress is an independent publisher from Oxford and we would like to bring to your attention our forthcoming title A Life in Norfolk's Archaeology: 1950–2016. Archaeology in an arable landscape by Peter Wade-Martins. This initial hardback edition, part of our 'Archaeological Lives' series, is limited to 100 copies (future reprints will be in paperback) and designed with the local community in mind. A pdf leaflet about the book, with an order form offering a 20% discount, is available here.

Events this Autumn/Winter

Winter lecture series

Most local societies have now published their lecture programmes. For details, visit the Federation of Norfolk Archaeological and Historical Organisations website.

CBA's Home Front Legacy Project

The Home Front Legacy project helps local communities find out about, and map, the remains of the First World War, and raise awareness of the wide range of archaeology that survives across the UK. To find out more please take a look at the Home Front Legacy website where you will find out all about the recording app, be able to search the sites that have been recorded so far, access useful resources, and discover all the latest news and research via our blog. When you do get involved, please share your pictures and news about what you have been doing on our social media sites.