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Visit to Historic Environment Records Office, Gressenhall – 6 July

Roman Brooch

Members of Bressingham and Fersfield History Group attended a fascinating one-day training workshop at the Norfolk Historic Environment Record offices in Gressenhall. (The ‘HE’ offices adjoin the popular museum, Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse.) Heather was our trainer. She started by asking us how we defined ‘archaeology’. Heather explained how it encompassed far more than artefacts dug from the ground and included the historic landscape. Evidence of cropmarks, earthworks, industrial remains, buildings and important sites in Norfolk such as historic gardens and battlefields are all collated and recorded within the Norfolk Historic Environment Record. We were shown how to use their databases, including the Norfolk Heritage Explorer which is available to the public online: www.heritage.norfolk.gov.uk. It really is worth visiting this website; you may wish to ‘Search records’ via the Maps tab as this shows sites of archeological interest across the county. The website also links to the intriguing ‘Historic Maps’ where you can search early maps such as Bressingham Tithe.

Left: Image of Roman enamel brooch found in Bressingham

Saxon brooch drawing

We thoroughly enjoyed looking at high resolution copies of 1940s aerial photographs of Bressingham and Fersfield. Photographs are key tools for identifying archaeology: Diana Burroughes was surprised to discover she has what archaeologists believe is a bronze age crop mark showing a ring ditch and enclosure on her land!

Heather emphasised how much they value contributions by volunteer amateur archaeologists and historians. Fortunately, training is available: the team have a Community Archaeologist, Claire, who teaches fieldwalking, building surveying and digging test pits. Inspired by the day, Bressingham and Fersfield History Group is now planning a training day with Claire later this year, fieldwalking and, at a later date, test pit digging. If you are interested in taking part, please contact Linda (01379) 687729. All ages are welcome.

Many thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund for paying for this visit.

Right: Drawing of Saxon brooch found in Bressingham

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