Digging Deep in History
Test Pits at True's Yard
The True's Yard Fisherfolk Museum is modelled around some of the fishermen's houses that survived the slum clearances of the early 20th century. While our society had carried out excavations to the South of Lynn, in the affluent merchant and church land, we had not explored the working class areas to the North of the town close to the historic fishing port. True's Yard was an ideal spot to carry out this research.
To the North of the Yard is a small flower bed which we selected as being the best place to dig down. In the town plan of 1900 this is shown as being on the very edge of the Yard adjacent to the roadway. Because of the limited access we could only plan for one test pit to explore what lay beneath.
On starting off we found that the verdant foliage from the plants concealed a rather large tree-stump in the centre of the flower border and on removing the flowers (carefully put aside to replant when we'd finished) which meant the area was even more restricted. This had to be the archaeological equivalent of key-hole surgery.
We dug down in 10cm layers sieving through the earth as we went and collecting any possible evidence of human activity. The day was hot and so it tended to be one digging, one sieving and one having a cold drink. During the dig we had a number of visitors to the museum who stopped to ask about what we had found and also, in one case, took part in the excavation.
It will take some time for the items found to be examined but it was a very pleasant way to spend a day and we hope it will add to our understanding what was happening in the fishing district of King's Lynn.
The first few 10cm contexts contained few items (it was raised flower bed) but as we dug lower sherds of pottery began to emerge. Initially these appeared to be the willow-ware that was so popular with the Victorians but further down we found a sherd of pottery that a visiting 'expert' pronounced as probably Tudor in origin.
About 40cm down there were a number of shells and bones, some showing evidence of butchery. We will need some expert help to attempt to date these
We are looking forward to cleaning up the items of pottery, metal, glass and lithic fragments that we found so that they can be examined and dated by experts. This will give us a much better knowledge of the history of Lynn's port area and maybe through new light on its origins and use.
Photos from the Event
Northern Journeys: Medieval Anglo-Norwegian Trade, in Good Times and Bad (17th April 2018)
Dr. James Barrett, Reader in Medieval Archaeology and Leverhulme Major Research Fellow at Cambridge University.
The program of lectures for the next season can now be found under the 'Lectures' tab above.
Starting in May the society will be working with the council to deliver a programme of community archaeology in the Gaywood area. Let Clive know if and when you will be able to help in supporting local people explore the history of their area.
Special Public Lecture (with cheese and wine)
Dr Clive J Bond will be taking about Seahenge which was discovered ten years ago. The lecture is to raise money for the RNLI, and is at King's Lynn Town Hall on Friday, 27th April, at 6pm. Tickets are for sale at the Custom House, Lynn, or the RNLI Hunstanton shop, Old Hunstanton beach.
WNKLAS In The News
The society has been in the local Newspapers recently in coverage of the conference to celebrate our 50year anniversary and also the presentation to John Smallwood one of the founders.
Society Conference (25th November 2017)
Was held at Marriott's Warehouse Trust on Saturday 25th November. The subject was 'Women in the Archaeology and History of West Norfolk: Female Voices Across Time'.
King John's Treasure
The society's investigation of a local farm contributed to a programme made for US television as part of the Expidition Unknown series. This systematic survey of an area that was a likely route for the Royal Treasure was also the subject of a recent lecture evening.