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Wayland Wood, Watton

Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork


Norfolk Schoolboy's Neolithic Discovery

(originally posted by ironman feb 2003)

Norfolk schoolboy's neolithic discovery

Story from EPD24 News

Schoolboy Craig's voyage of discovery
February 7, 2003 05:30

When young Craig Barnard joined a wildlife and history group, he was hopeful of spotting a rare bird, digging up a few bits of old pottery or maybe even finding out how our ancestors made spears.

But deep in the woods on a field trip, the 11-year-old made a find that was to overturn one of the county's historians' most popular beliefs.

The ancient arrowhead unearthed by Craig and his friends led to the discovery of that a Neolithic and Iron Age site described by experts as "without question of the most important of its kind found in Norfolk".

Historians had long believed that the site in Breckland had been covered in woodland for an aeon, but the discovery made by youngsters from the Watton-based Wayland RSPB Wildlife Explorers' and Wildlife Group proves that more recently it was open land favoured by Neolithic and Iron Age settlers.

These important finds were put on public display for the first time at Watton Junior School yesterday alongside brooches, Roman coins, spearheads and even second world war shellcases– all found by the Wayland children's group set up by keen historian Sean O'Reilly.

Mr O'Reilly, said the exhibition – during which he also gives practical demonstrations on how Iron Age man made his spears and lit fires with two sticks or Romans drilled holes – would now be taken to all schools in the Wayland area.

Craig, a pupil at the junior school, told the EDP yesterday that he had joined the wildlife group to find out more about birds and just liked finding things.

He made the discovery during a field-walking trip, led by Mr O'Reilly, of Watton.

"We were looking at trees and how old the moss was and I looked on the ground and saw a piece of arrowhead. Then we carried on looking and found all these flints. It was very exciting," Craig said.

But when The Norfolk Archaeology Unit confirmed that the surface finds suggested that the site had been extensively used during the Neolithic and Iron Age period, that was even better, he added.

Dr Andrew Rogerson, from Norfolk Landscape Archaeology based at Gressenhall, said it was a major find.

"The exciting thing about it is that it was found in what was thought to have been an ancient wood.

"We normally find a settlement site would have been situated by open land.
"This find was in a wood thought to have been there since year dot, challenging long-held ideas.
"It is just conceivable it is not a normal settlement site and if so, it would be the first ever wooded site, although that is unlikely."

He said all the finds would be documented on the Heritage Environment Record, a database at Gressenhall, thanks to the group's careful cataloguing of the finds.

"The beauty of this is not the finding of it, but the plotting and placing of it and most importantly, the recording of it in a place appreciated by all now and in the future."

The driving force behind the youngsters was Irish-born Mr O'Reilly, who used his skill at making things and through his artistic talents brought the ancient world to life.

Mr O'Reilly said: "My father always used to show us countryside crafts in Ireland and old skills that have disappeared.

"When I moved to Wayland I fell in love with the landscape and I thought it would be fantastic to bring wildlife and the old crafts together.

"We were out field-walking when we found the Iron Age site. We came across a tree stump in this wood and Craig spotted this flint. We quickly realised how important it was."
Yesterday he was at the launch of the new exhibition and after its local tour, Mr O'Reilly hoped to find funding to set up a roadshow to take it to a wider audience.
juamei Posted by juamei
19th March 2004ce
Edited 25th March 2004ce

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