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Weird wall findings reveal odd secrets of folklore rituals to ward off evil

PUBLISHED: 16:54 01 January 2017 | UPDATED: 17:52 01 January 2017

Conservationists working to repair a section of Great Yarmouth's Medieval town wall have pulled out a surprising mix of items.

Conservationists working to repair a section of Great Yarmouth's Medieval town wall have pulled out a surprising mix of items.

Archant

Bones, bottles and possible evidence of folklore rituals have all been pulled from Great Yarmouth’s Medieval town wall as conservationists get to grips with repairs.

Conservationists working to repair a section of Great Yarmouth's Medieval town wall have pulled out a surprising mix of items.Conservationists working to repair a section of Great Yarmouth's Medieval town wall have pulled out a surprising mix of items.

The surprising mix of items have either been put back for future historians to find and puzzle over or recorded for display.

The artefacts, including old newspapers and pottery, have come to light as skilled workers secure the flint face.

Darren Barker, projects director for the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust which is overseeing the repairs, said the rubble core had been exposed in some places revealing strange items that had been put there hundreds of years before.

The finds dated mainly from the 1800s when the 1.2 mile-long wall had stopped being defensive and had taken up a domestic role.

The South East tower on the Great Yarmouth town wall is being transformed into accommodation. 
The view from the top of the tower towards the remains of the Blackfriars tower.

Picture: James BassThe South East tower on the Great Yarmouth town wall is being transformed into accommodation. The view from the top of the tower towards the remains of the Blackfriars tower. Picture: James Bass

With fire-places and ovens finding a home in the stone, loose flints became cubby holes and shelves for storage.

In some cases the items could have been offerings, with local folklore often requiring pins and clips of hair to be secreted in hollow pockets to ward off evil spirits.

Yarmouth’s wall is the second best preserved in the country, next to York’s, and while heritage walks take in its history there is an appetite to make more of it.

Sections at Mariners Road, Blackfriars Road and behind Argos in the town centre have been the focus of activity by a unique social enterprise.

Around six people employed by Norfolk Conservation Ltd are carrying out repairs, and have jobs lined up elsewhere including at Holkham Hall.

They have all been trained by the Preservation Trust filling a skills gap in the area and have moved from being volunteers into paid work.

Mr Barker said he understood the company to be the only dedicated conservation company in Norfolk.

“The trust has done a lot of training and we have built up a core team of highly skilled people. Rather than just cut them off we have set up a social enterprise that employs people that we have trained,” he said.

Other finds have included a toy clown from the 1970s, a UB40 record and Yarmouth-stamped bottles.

“Its archaeology but not in the traditional sense,” Mr Barker added.

The company’s next conservation project is at the Fisherman’s Hospital in Yarmouth, repairing a carving above the entrance.

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