Uncovering Great Yarmouth’s history

Cotswold Archaeology are delighted to be partnering Great Yarmouth Borough Council in the ‘Uncovering Great Yarmouth’ community archaeology project. This is part of the recently awarded High Street Heritage Action Zone Scheme, a four-year,£2.4m programme, led by the borough council in partnership with Historic England which puts heritage and the local community at the heart of revitalising the town centre.

The archaeology project is set to launch next week and will be a joint venture between local residents and professionals to explore Great Yarmouth’s history. There are a range of different activities and research projects planned for the next few months which will focus on the area of the minster and market place and will include building surveys, test pitting and schools events.

The project will kick off on Monday 14 February with a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey of the Minster churchyard. This is an entirely non-intrusive geophysical technique which allows us to examine the potential for below-ground structures and we hope that this will identify now lost buildings that were associated with the minster and Priory. We also hope to discover the line of the medieval town wall and the probable St. Nicholas’ Gate, which were totally demolished in 1799 when the churchyard was extended. As well as confirming the original line of the wall the survey might help to establish the shape of the towers which could have been either circular or square.

Aerial photograph of the Minster - © Great Yarmouth Borough Council
Aerial photograph of the Minster – © Great Yarmouth Borough Council

Great Yarmouth is known for its sandy beaches and holiday attractions but perhaps its role as an important medieval and post-medieval port and fish market founded on a sand bar that accumulated within the wide estuary of the River Yare during the first millennium AD is less well known.

Cllr Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said: “We’ve always known, and been extremely proud of, the rich culture and heritage Great Yarmouth has to offer. This opportunity to dig deeper into that history, and learn more than ever before, is an exceptional experience.”

Keen archaeologists, hobbyists and anyone interested are encouraged to get involved with the project, which will also offer opportunities for skills training and education but most importantly will help build up a picture of the history of this important town.  We will be posting information about upcoming events and results of the work over the course of the project.

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