Tracks and Traces – archaeological events in Reepham in July

Festival of Archaeology 2014This year the UK Festival of Archaeology, organised by the Council for British Archaeology, ran from 12 to 27 July. Over 1000 events took place across the UK each year to give everyone the chance to experience our unique archaeological heritage for themselves.

To coincide with this event, World Tree offered a series of guided walks and talks in Reepham. We wanted to try to imagine what our part of Norfolk looked like in centuries gone by. We drew attention to fascinating sites in the Reepham area that have now disappeared or are hidden. We talked about belief, ritual and folklore. Also, we tried to consider how archaeologists work. How do they come to conclusions … and how can we trust what they say?

A group of walkers exploring the ancient countryside of Whitwell and Witchingham on a wonderful summer afternoon.

A group of walkers exploring the ancient countryside of Whitwell and Witchingham on a wonderful summer afternoon.

On Saturday 12 July (a very hot day!) a guided walk explored the countryside at Whitwell and Great Witchingham, to the south of Reepham. The following Tuesday (15 July) we walked to the north of town, through the spacious countryside of Salle and Kerdiston.

Each walk drew attention to vanished settlements and other features – in Kerdiston’s case, the site of a vanished church. Where possible, we walked possible on footpaths, bridleways and the ‘ghost roads’ around Reepham that were once significant highways but which have been left behind by progress.

Dr Adrian Marsden explains to us one of the very few Roman objects from Norfolk that indicates the presence of Christians.

Dr Adrian Marsden explains to us one of the very few Roman objects found in Norfolk that indicates the presence of Christians!

We were pleased with the audiences for the three talks at Reepham Town Hall. Imogen Ashwin spoke about the archaeological evidence for enduring spiritual traditions in Norfolk, while Trevor’s talk focussed on finding hidden archaeological landscapes beneath the East Anglian ploughsoil.

Our guest speaker, Dr Adrian Marsden of Norfolk Museums Service, gave an entertaining summary of what we know about religion in Roman Norfolk. Adrian identifies thousands of finds collected from Norfolk’s fields every year and his talk was very well illustrated.

The outline of a round-towered church at Chapel Close, Kerdiston.

The outline of a round-towered church at Chapel Close, Kerdiston. This was spotted on Google air photography after discussions on one of our guided walks.

One of the most interesting ‘discoveries’ from the programme of events resulted from the guided walk through Salle and Kerdiston. During the walk we drew attention to a field traditionally known as Chapel Close which has long thought to have been a church or chapel site. Discussions with walk participants led us to look afresh at air photography available on Google Earth. Looking at the photo coverage for 2006 we were delighted to see the outline of this round towered church. More research, and hopefully visits, will certainly follow!

Many thanks to everyone who participated, and to Reepham Town Council for sponsoring our guest speaker Dr Marsden.