Norfolk is the only English county with an east coast, a north coast and a west coast. Its landscape is not dramatic, but is varied, with the famous Broads, the dry sandy Breckland, the crumbling cliffs of the north and east – and some of the most fertile soils in Britain.
For most of its history, Norfolk was one of the wealthiest and most densely populated counties of England, and so its archaeology is outstandingly rich.
Important archaeological sites include:
- Happisburgh, where the earliest evidence for human activity in north-west Europe was found eroding out of the cliff.
- Grimes Graves, where you can go down a Neolithic flint mine.
- ‘Seahenge’ Bronze Age wooden circle at Holme-next-the-Sea was fully excavated in 1998 in advance of beach erosion. The timbers have now been conserved and analysed by the Flag Fen and Mary Rose teams, and a re-creation can be seen at Lynn Museum in King’s Lynn.
- Snettisham, where British Museum excavations in the 1990s found a series of Iron Age torc and coin hoards in an otherwise empty landscape.
- Thetford, with nationally important archaeological remains from the Iron Age, Roman and Viking periods.
- The Roman fort of Branodunum at Brancaster, and the ‘civitas capital’ of Venta Icenorum at Caistor St Edmund.
- Burgh Castle, a late Roman fort perhaps built to defend the coast against the attacks of ‘barbarians’ from outside the Roman Empire.
- Spong Hill and Morningthorpe, some of the largest early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries ever excavated.
- The beautiful Norfolk castles of Castle Rising, Castle Acre, Norwich, Thetford and more.
- Atmostpheric ruined churches at Binham Priory, Bromholm Priory, St Benets Abbey, Walsingham Abbey and more.