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Norfolk: Bronze Age artefact found in garden

An article by Ben Kendall of the Eastern Daily Press online, 26th April 2005:

One of the biggest hauls of Bronze Age artefacts ever found in Norfolk has been uncovered in a garden - but it very nearly ended up in a skip.

The 145 items dating from circa 800BC were discovered in Norwich by gardener Simon Francis as he landscaped the grounds of a house on Poplar Avenue, near Newmarket Road.

Norfolk County Council archaeologists have described the haul as one of the largest and most significant they have known, providing a vital insight into the era.

But yesterday Mr Francis admitted he had not initially appreciated the importance of the find. He said: "I have been working as a gardener for years and I've often come across bits of pottery.

"At first I just thought these were bits of gate posts from Victorian times or something so I suppose I could have easily thrown them away. Fortunately there were some items like axe and spear heads which stood out."

Property owner Shane Target said he had delighted such a find had been made. He said: "I know a bit about archaeology and I am fascinated by it.

"When Simon told me what he had found I came down to the garden and we both realised we had found something pretty special."

Since the initial discovery of 135 items on Friday, archaeologists have revisited the site and found more items including a Viking broach.

The haul included axe heads, spear-heads, sword parts, tools and ingots.

Curator of archaeology Alan West said: "This is one of the biggest finds in Norfolk and as such is very significant.

"The items are in good condition and the more items we find the better knowledge we can develop of the era.

"It seems the items had been buried in a shallow pit. I would have thought the items we buried there as it was a safe area and they planned to return to recover them at a later date but, for whatever reason, that never happened.

"Finding the Viking broach is particularly unusual. It is rare to find items from two completely different eras all on one site."

Fellow curator Tim Pestell said he hoped the items would eventually be displayed at Norwich Castle. "The coroner will have to decide if this qualifies as treasure which it almost certainly does," he said. "Then we will look to put it on public display."

He added: "I got the call about this at the end of the day on Friday when I was about to go home. It was one of those moments when you think 'should I answer the phone'. Obviously now I'm glad I did."
Jane Posted by Jane
26th April 2005ce
Edited 15th February 2006ce

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