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Free archaeology activities explore ‘hidden heritage’

Cllr Nockolds excavates a test pit in a field

Published: Tuesday, 24th April 2018

As part of our Heritage Lottery Fund-supported ‘Hidden Heritage of the Gaywood River’ project, a range of free community archaeology events are scheduled from the first week of May to mid-September.

  • Mini Time Team Excavations
  • Artefact Collection and Learning Day schools
  • Public Lectures
  • Heritage Skills Roadshows


Mini Time Team Excavations – 5 and 6 May, 4 and 5 August, 10am to 4pm

Over these weekends, participants will excavate 1m2 pits in gardens and open spaces around King’s Lynn. Working in small teams with volunteers and archaeologists, participants will learn to sample and excavate methodically. Guidance on recording, drawing, photographing and describing strata, soils, and the artefacts found will be given. All equipment will be provided.

Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 May – Gaywood River
This weekend will explore the origins of Gaywood, and attempt to locate a mid-to-late Saxon settlement by the Gaywood River. Booking is not required, just meet for registration and an introduction at Gaywood Library.

Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 August – Kettlewell Lane
The second weekend will explore the location of the ancient water-mill, including the medieval East Gate, the town’s wall/fortifications, and a possible way-side chapel; a stop-off point for pilgrims on the way to Walsingham. Booking is not required, just meet for registration and an introduction at a gazebo at the gate of Kettlewell Lane Gardens.

These excavations are perfect for anyone with an interest in history, who’d like to try being an archaeologist for a weekend on their very own dig. Children accompanied by adults are welcome.

Artefact Collection and Learning Day schools – 12 May and 11 August, 11am to 3pm, Gaywood Library

These two day schools will look at the results of the Mini Time Team Excavations. Participants will examine the pottery sherds, stone, and all other artefacts found, and sort, wash, weigh and identify them, so each excavated layer can be dated and better understood. Artefacts of different date, material, technology and origin, will be discussed and identified. This event is open to anyone who is interested in archaeology and artefacts, not just those who took part in the excavations.

Booking is not required.

Public Lectures – 6pm to 8pm, Gaywood Library

12 May – “Bishop’s Lynn with or without Gaywood?”
15 September – “Landscape Archaeology and the River Gaywood”

In these fascinating free lectures, knowledgeable experts and researchers will explore documents and artefacts that give clues to the origins of Gaywood. Enjoyable bite-size summaries of years of historical study will also examine the medieval origins of Lynn. Some preliminary results from the Mini Time Team excavations will be presented for the first time.

Booking is not required.

Heritage Skills Roadshows – Four roadshows for invited primary school classes at Gaywood Library are scheduled as part of the programme. The children will examine and handle Prehistoric, Roman and medieval artefacts from the Gaywood valley, to learn about how Gaywood developed from its earliest times.

These events have been organised by the borough council, in partnership with West Norfolk and King’s Lynn Archaeological Society and Norfolk County Council Library Service.

Project background

Hidden Heritage of the Gaywood River is a £210,000 project to enhance a former landfill site at Lynnsport, made possible by a National Lottery grant of nearly £94,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The aim of the project is to create a new disabled-access footpath through the site, and to turn the site into wooded parkland with a wildflower meadow. Planting will increase the biodiversity of the area. The Norfolk Rivers Trust are also planning work to the river to include the installation of a pond-dipping platform. Interpretation panels and benches will also be installed.

While £94,000 is being provided by the HLF, thanks to money raised by National Lottery Players, the remaining project costs will be met by funding from the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, Norfolk Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency.

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