Gaywood Valley Archaeological & Historical Project


Over the weekend of 27th-28th April the project had a base at Gayton Hall, with the kind support of Lord and Lady Romney. The weekend was very busy, with over 50 people involved excavating 8 test pits (1m x 1m) and 5 shovel test pits (shovel/spade width depth, testing the plough soil).

Medieval Jetons
Medieval Jetons found while digging at Gayton

Locations included: The Common against the St Nicholas' Church, off Back Street; pasture of Lynn Road; The Crown Inn, beer garden; Gayton Hall.

Many local residents and members of the parish council visited. It was lovely to meet people, chat and explain what we were doing.

All test pits recovered archaeology: much pottery, animal bones (butchered), some shell, charcoal and some metal artefacts. The pottery, with a preliminary analysis suggests material dating to before the Norman Conquest (not glazed, late Saxon), to medieval green glazed pottery (green glazed, Grimston-Thetford Ware, c.1400-c.1600 AD). Importantly, there was also and wattle and daub (burnt clay), indicating the excavation of a domestic dwelling, perhaps house walls.

The animal bones suggest butchery for meat of cattle (mostly), but also there were coins: a single early 4th Century Constantine coin (Roman) and 3 jetons - late 14th-early 15thC counting tokens. One was in very good condition with an inscription that suggests a Flemish origin. These tokens may well indicate a fair/trade and commerce, with local people and traders coming through the medieval port of Lynn (Hanseatic League connections), but meeting/selling/buying products at Gayton! Project members were also involved in washing finds (Sue Thompson) and completing a building survey (Michael Medlar).

The project volunteers, visitors and colleagues from the Historic Environment Service, Norfolk County Council very much enjoyed the weekend in Gayton. I'd like to thank residents, the Parish Council, The Crown Inn and the Gayton Hall Estate for being so supportive and welcoming.

A temporary exhibition will be mounted at True's Yard Fisherfolk Museum in late June/early July to display finds from the weekend's excavation and survey.

The fieldwork at Gayton was most instructive: we now have prehistoric, later Mesolithic/earlier Neolithic activity in the centre of your village (a flint core nodule was recovered). But, we also have more evidence of late Roman, late Saxon and medieval occupation, in an area where the first topographical maps - Faden's Map, 1797 of the village showed no settlement


Preliminary Investigation 16th March

Gayton Training event 16th March

Gayton was the first area in the Gaywood valley to be surveyed. It was a very cold Saturday morning in March, when we arrived on site and we were all hoping that the rain would keep off while we were digging. We planned to carry out an investigation of the meadow between the Church and the Hall, and dig a single test pit and a series of four shovel test pits. Are area looked promising with an uneven surface indicating that (perhaps) there were still sub-surface features.

We started by measuring out a 50 meter square grid so that the positions of the pits could be accurately plotted and then started digging the Test Pit in approximately the centre of the area. The turfs were cut carefully and placed on one side to later replacement and then we started to dig down a hole 1 meter on each side. We went down carefully scraping away the soil in 10 cm layers and passing the spoil through a coarse sieve to ensure that no important items were missed.

As some of us continued with the main test pits others went to the four corners of the 50m test square an dug shovel test pits by removing the turf and sieving samples of the soil. Shovel test pits are a quick way of getting an idea of what can be found in an area and, although they would not reveal the chronology of the area (such as could be obtained from the test pit), they would give an idea of the sub-surface features that had, in the past, been disturbed by ploughing.

Any items that we found were placed in a bag labelled with the pit designation and layer for later examination. The finds were varied, a number of flint fragments which may have been worked, some pottery sherds and a number of animal bones that seemed to show butchery marks. One level was predominantly stone indicating a possible ancient trackway and below that were some green-glazed pot sherds.

Despite the poor conditions there were a number of intesting discoveries and we hoped that further information would be found on the second April investigation date and also from examination of the items found at the artefact workshop at True's Yard. HERE


Main Investigation 27/28th April

The main archaeological Investigation at Gayton took place in much nicer weather than our initial visit. In addition Gayton Hall very kindly allowed us to use some of their outbuildings for set up and administration. They also allowed the society access to a paddock close to the hall, where we planned to do some test pitting.

Our plan for the weekend was to carry out the following:-

  • Dig another test pit in the meadow between Church and Hall but further to the East than our original pit
  • Dig another series of four shovel test pits in the meadow
  • Excavate two test pits in the paddock close to Gayton Hall
  • Survey the garden to the rear of the Crown Inn and explore the sub-surface archaeology with a test pit.
  • Carry out a village survey of the standing buildings, concentrating those which had not been surveyed before

Items found were bagged up for further investigation and there were a number of interesting finds! In particular there were a fair number of pottery sherds that will allow dating of the contexts excavated, some of these displayed the distinctive green glaze that characterises those originating from Grimston. There was also a Roman coin, two medieval jetons (coin-like gaming or barter counters), some worked and burned flint fragments and a number of animal bones.

Interview with Volunteer

The event was well attended by both the society and public and an audio interview was conducted to explore one person's view of the day.

Gayton 27th & 28th April 2013

Gayton Test Pitting Interview


Artefact Workshop, True's Yard 4th May

Processing Finds

The artefact workshop was set in the upper meeting room and back-yard of True's Yard in Kings Lynn. We had collected a large number of items from our three days in Gayton and this was our opportunity to examine what we had found.

The event was broken into a number of stages:-

  • Cleaning - Carefully removing the dirt and seeing what we had
  • Sorting - Separating the genuine items that indicated human activity from the other items. Also grouping items according to their type.
  • Conserving - Making sure that important items are weighed, photographed and recorded and also treated to ensure that they do not degenerate
  • Stored - Appropriately marked and stored to later expert examination
West Norfolk &
Kings Lynn
Archaeological Society