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Secret of the Saxon cemetery found in Norfolk field

PUBLISHED: 09:57 09 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:07 09 January 2018

The Saxon cemetery was found at Fulmodeston. Picture: Ian Burt

The Saxon cemetery was found at Fulmodeston. Picture: Ian Burt

An Anglo-Saxon cemetery was discovered in a Norfolk field when cables for a wind farm were being buried - but the find has remained a secret ever since.

The discovery was made while surveying a cable trench for the Dudgeon offshore wind farm, situated just off Cromer. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY The discovery was made while surveying a cable trench for the Dudgeon offshore wind farm, situated just off Cromer. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mystery continues to surround what was found in the field at Fulmodeston near Fakenham in 2014, with information about the discovery not expected to be published for several months.

The energy company which was digging the cable trench for the offshore Dudgeon wind farm, called Statoil, said the findings were unlikely to be made public until 2019.

But it confirmed it had come across a Saxon burial ground while surveying for the cable trench which was dug from Weybourne on the coast to Necton.

Consultants working for Statoil, called Royal HaskoningDHV, then excavated it with Norfolk County Council.

The Anglo Saxon helmet motif on the front of the exhibition hall at Sutton Hoo, the Anglo-Saxon royal burial site at Woodbridge, Suffolk. The Anglo Saxon helmet motif on the front of the exhibition hall at Sutton Hoo, the Anglo-Saxon royal burial site at Woodbridge, Suffolk.

Freddie Scadgell, head of Royal HaskoningDHV’s archaeology team, said each step of the process was agreed with the Council’s archaeologists.

“We look forward to the publication of the excavation report and in time the transfer of the artefacts recovered to the Norfolk Museum and Archaeology Service at Norwich Castle Museum,” he said.

He added some information about the discovery could be published later this year.

Mr Scadgell said that when such finds were made the rights of the landowner had to be protected while at the same time ensuring “accurate and verified” information about the discovery was published.

The area where the find was made is rich in Saxon find. Gary Boyce found 81 Anglo Saxon coffins and bodies on his land at Great Ryburgh in 2016. Picture: Ian Burt The area where the find was made is rich in Saxon find. Gary Boyce found 81 Anglo Saxon coffins and bodies on his land at Great Ryburgh in 2016. Picture: Ian Burt

The cemetery is thought to date from the fifth and sixth centuries and was not publicised to stop it being damaged.

Statoil said once the finds had been signed over from the landowner and processed, it would be contacting local museums about what happened at the site.

A spokesman for the Norfolk Museums Service added: “Information about the artefacts from this find will be announced by the sponsor in due course.”

The news comes as energy firms plan to dig two larger cable corridors, up to 60km long and 80 metres wide, across Norfolk for new offshore wind farms.

The area where the cemetery was discovered is rich in Anglo-Saxon finds.

In January 2016 81 Anglo-Saxon coffins were found in a field in Great Ryburgh when landowner Gary Boyce was digging a fishing lake.

See also: How giant offshore wind farms will affect Norfolk





•New finds from new trenches?

Further secrets of Norfolk’s past may well be dug up when two more wind farm trenches are dug across the county.

Energy firm Vattenfall wants to dig a cable trench for 60km from Happisburgh to Necton to connect two planned offshore wind farms to the National Grid.

Meanwhile, Danish company Orsted wants to dig a trench 55km-long from Weybourne to Swardeston.

Ruari Lean from Vattenfall said: “Vattenfall is very aware of the rich cultural and archaeological heritage of the Norfolk countryside and we hope that our activity in the area will help further the understanding of that heritage.”

He added Vattenfall was “committed to following best practice... to ensure the project is taken forward in a way which minimises negative impacts on our buried heritage and enables insights and knowledge to be gained and shared from surveys and data gathering.”

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