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.

Photo of Test Pit showing Tree stump

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.


Some of the Bone fragments found

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

Tour of Historic Hardwick Cemetery (Sunday 11th June 2017)

Dr Paul Richards will be conducting a tour called 'Mariners, Merchants and Industrialists' at Hardwick Cemetery starting at the gates at 2pm (Charge £4).

More Information

St Martha's Test Pits (Sunday 25th June 2017: 11am)

Archaeology demonstration at St Martha's Roman Catholic Primary School Summer Fete. The location is off Roseberry Avenue, Field Lane, Gaywood.

Binham History Group(Friday 23rd June to Sunday 25 June 2017: 9am start)

Investigation of an area identified by GeoPhysics and fieldwalking. Test pitsbeing dug over three days, all welcome.

Historic Pubs of Lynn (Friday 23rd June 2017)

Dr Paul Richards will be conducting a tour called 'Historic Pubs in Lynn' starting at True's Yard 6pm (Charge £5).

More Information

Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know? (28th July 2017)

A public illustrated lecture to be held at St. Margaret's Minister, 4:30pm, by Dr. Laura Kalas Williams, Research Associate and Tutor, Department of English, the University Exeter.

Margery Kempe's boisterous mysticism and medicine: uncovered!. Tickets available from True's Yard Fisherfolk Museum £5


More Information

Society Conference (25th November 2017)

Will be held at Marriott's Warehouse Trust, South Quay, King's Lynn, 10:00-17:00, Saturday 25th November. The subject is 'Women in the Archaeology and History of West Norfolk: Female Voices Across Time'. Places are free but limited and may be booked from True's Yard Fisherfolk Museum