Norfolk Broads: Bronze Age evidence 'everywhere'

Ben Robinson with plane Ben Robinson said hundreds of archaeological sites on the Norfolk Broads could be revaluated

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Proof of Bronze Age activity can be found throughout the whole of the Norfolk Broads, archaeologists claim.

The Middle Bronze Age field system at Ormesby St Michael in 2010 is not unique to the area, Nick Gilmour said.

Mr Gilmour, who will feature in The Flying Archaeologist on BBC One, said aerial photos suggest clear signs of life well before the Broads were dug.

"The more you look the more you start seeing Bronze Age everywhere," he will say on the programme, at 19:30 BST.

Mr Gilmour was involved with the discovery of the complex field systems, which date back to about 1,500 BC.

It was previously thought the systems had not existed further east than the Cambridgeshire Fens.

'Lost underwater'

The presenter of the Flying Archaeologist, Ben Robinson, said the area had proven a "real challenge" for archaeologists due to the landscape being flooded to create the broads in the 9th or 10th Century.

"Traces of settlement are lost underwater or flattened by the plough," Mr Robinson said.

"But they don't disappear completely because history leaves a footprint."

The programme explores how these footprints, crop marks which were spotted by archaeologists ahead of the Ormesby dig, were best viewed by air.

Bronze Age reconstruction of Ormesby St Michael A reconstruction shows how Ormesby St Michael could have looked

"An ancient ditch or pit that has been filled in long ago will show up as different colours across the fields - crop marks," he said.

Mr Gilmour said the Ormesby dig had revealed evidence of settlers' activities, such as weaving, and objects including a whetstone.

'Crop marks'

"If you've got a whetstone you need something to sharpen on, which means in this case bronze.

"In order to get bronze you need copper and tin so that must have come from somewhere as well.

"So you start putting in these links to other settlements much further afield across potentially the whole of Britain.

"It's really the beginnings of the mass altering of the landscape."

Mr Robinson said hundreds of archaeological sites in the Norfolk Broads could now be re-evaluated.

"We've got other crop mark sites that look similar," he said.

"Maybe there's an extensive pattern - a Bronze Age world out there that we are only just beginning to understand."

The Flying Archaeologist - The Broads is broadcast at 19:30 BST on BBC One East. The full series will be shown nationwide from Monday, 29 April at 20:30 BST on BBC Four.

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