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Acle dig unearths rich past

PUBLISHED: 15:38 29 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:16 03 July 2010

TWO top archaeologists and a group of budding relic-hunters are hoping to rewrite Norfolk's history books by digging up 11 back gardens.

Dr Carenza Lewis and Paul Blinkhorn, both of TV Time Team fame, and a team of high school students have unearthed evidence in Acle that may go on to prove the region's rich past was much more turbulent that thought.

TWO top archaeologists and a group of budding relic-hunters are hoping to rewrite Norfolk's history books by digging up 11 back gardens.

Dr Carenza Lewis and Paul Blinkhorn, both of TV Time Team fame, and a team of high school students have unearthed evidence in Acle that may go on to prove the region's rich past was much more turbulent that thought.

Acle is one of 10 villages in Norfolk and Suffolk to have opened up their gardens to the archaeologists for a new book which is set challenge the traditional view of village life from the Dark Ages and medieval times.

It has now emerged that the Acle dig last Wednesday and Thursday found evidence that some areas of the village had been abandoned during the 14th and 16th century,

The finds are helping to shape a new theory that communities across East Anglia, including Carlton Rode, near Attleborough, were in a constant state of flux instead of a perceived state of gradual change.

Evidence suggests that because of disasters like Black Death and Viking raids, some communities were left uninhabited for up to two centuries.

Dr Lewis said: “We are trying to see how and if villages survived the Black Death, Vikings, the Norman Conquest and the onset of the Industrial Revolution.

“Each dig finds totally different things. You have to see each dig as jigsaw puzzle and we have to work out how finds fit into it.”

Mr Blinkhorn said “The villages seem to have had a more erratic history than was first thought.”

The series of digs have been organised by the University of Cambridge since 2005 to help encourage youngsters to get involved in science and archaeology and help develop their confidence and team-building skills.

Pupils from Caister, Flegg, Cliff Park, Acle and Yarmouth high schools took part in the excavation of the 11 gardens by digging up to 1m 20cms to find relics including Roman and early medieval pottery shards.

Laura Wilson, 15 from Caister High School said: “I enjoyed the physical part of it and learning something about what is actually underneath the ground.”

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