Sedgeford, near Heacham, has been around for more
than two millennia. The Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological
Research Project (S.H.A.R.P.) has been investigating the village
since 1996 and has uncovered a past stretching back to the Bronze
Although the site was initially investigated during
the 1950s, when some 70 burials were lifted from the aptly-named
Boneyard Field, SHARP is the first extensive and detailed study
of the site.
Up to the end of the 2002 season, a further 177
burials have been found and this year the body count is eight, and
Archaeologist looking at a find in the boneyard
The Boneyard is on the south-eastern edge of the
modern village and it is from the trench, pictured right, that most
of the recent finds have been discovered.
At the bottom of the slope, the ground is often
water-logged but it is known that there are several burials in the
swampy ground. Many of the bodies are infants, yet to be uncovered.
Archaeologists on the site are certain that infants
were buried closest to a church or chapel and so have a reasonable
expectation that, if they can continue to fund the excavation eastwards,
they will find what is likely to be the village's first Christian
place of worship.
Most of the graves, which are aligned east-west,
as typical of Christian burials, date back to the Saxon period,
in the ninth century.
It is clear from the evidence that sometime in
the 10th and 11th centuries, the Saxons moved the village westwards
from the Boneyard. The Vikings later moved in to the abandoned eastern
lands and set up home - on top of the older Saxon burials.
The remains of their buildings cut through some
of the graves, and a drainage channel severed a number of Saxon
SHARP has been at work elsewhere in the village,
carrying out exploratory work at West Hall, on the site of a moated
manor and the parish church of St Mary the Virgin.
SHARP is run by a combination of trustees, directors
and a managing committee, but much of the leg-work is carried out
by students of archaeology, many of whom are on courses run by the
University of East Anglia.
Excavation of the Boneyard Trench is under the
co-direction of Dr Neil Faulkner, Gareth Davies, and Sophie Cabot
and Jean McGinty OBE is Chairman of the Trustees.
As a charity, SHARP relies on donors to fund its
work, which sometimes includes the hiring of specialist assistance
to identify some of the finds - especially fragments of animal and
bird bones, and pollens.
If you want to find out how you can get involved
or become a volunteer with SHARP, you can find out more information
from its website: http://www.sharp.org.uk
Read more: SHARP
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