Ava, 11, uncovers 17th century treasures in Great Yarmouth dig

Ava Hunt, 11, from Burlingham, with the 17th century clay pipes

Ava Hunt, 11, from Burlingham, with a pair of 17th century clay pipes she uncovered during an archaeological dig in Great Yarmouth on March 19. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

Volunteers at an archaeological dig have had a glimpse into Norfolk's past after one girl found clay pipes last used 400 years ago.

The project, taking place on Saturday (March 19) and Sunday (March 20), is a joint venture between local people and professionals to explore the town’s history.

Ava Hunt, from Burlingham, made the find of the day on Saturday after she unearthed the 17th century clay smoking pipes in a pit next to the section of the old town wall on Deneside.

17th century clay pipes

A pair of 17th century clay pipes last used 400 years ago, at a time when tobacco was rare and expensive. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

It was the first ever archaeological dig for the 11-year-old who enjoys learning about history at school.

She said: "I wasn't expecting to find them. It's pretty strange holding them in my hand. Someone held these hundreds of years ago."

Her mother, Louise Hunt, who works in the Time and Tide museum, said: "It's a great opportunity for her to explore the local history."

The pipes were from an age when tobacco was so rare it was expensive to smoke very much at one time.

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The project is being managed by Cotswold Archaeology and is part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) scheme, a four-year £2.4m programme, led by the borough council in partnership with Historic England.

The digs, also involving the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, are taking place within the boundary of the old town wall.

Priory Plain pit

A pit next to Priory Plain in Great Yarmouth containing a 200-year old down pipe and a piece of medieval dressed stone. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

Next to Priory Plain, volunteers helped uncover a piece of medieval dressed stone and a 200-year-old down pipe.

At a pit next to the old town wall on Deneside, four volunteers were helping out.

They were Philip Charalambous, 47, Andrew Ellen, 65, Adam Rafferty, 33 and Micheal Zegerman, 77.

Volunteers helping an archaeological dig in Great Yarmouth.

Volunteers helping an archaeological dig next to the old town wall on Deneside in Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

Mr Charalambous said: "It's nice to get involved in local history projects.

"It gives us a chance to see Yarmouth as something other than the seafront and the touristy bit."

Nigel Byram, superviser with Cotswold Archaeology, said: "At about 30cm deep we found a layer of debris or rubble that involved a lot of bricks and stones, quite a lot of animal bones and oyster shells, which are characteristic of coastal settlements of the medieval period."

Caroline Adams, outreach officer with Cotswold Archaeology.

Caroline Adams, outreach officer with Cotswold Archaeology. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

Caroline Adams, outreach officer for Cotswold Archaeology, said that children from St Nicholas Primary School and the town's Young Archaeologists Club had also been involved.