Ancient Thetford site to be protected

ONE of the county's most important Iron Age and early Roman sites has been recognised as being of national importance.

ONE of the county's most important Iron Age and early Roman sites has been recognised as being of national importance.

The Boudicca Temple site in Fison Way on the outskirts of Thetford has been designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument by the Department for Culture Media and Sport, recognising it as a site of national importance and protecting it from the threat of future development.

Artefacts from the Iron and Roman age were first discovered at the site in 1973 when an aerial photograph recorded the cropmarks of an enclosure, just beside the site of the present A11 Thetford Bypass.

Six years later a hoard of gold jewellery and silver spoons dating back to the 4th century AD, was found during the construction of the Travenol Factory on Wyatt Way.

It is thought the treasure may have been associated with a late Roman temple and the god Faunus, a woodland deity.

Norfolk County councillor and cabinet member for culture, Derrick Murphy, said: “Recognition that this site is of national importance is long overdue, and it is really good news for Norfolk and Thetford that after a long and concerted campaign it will now be protected from future development or damage.”

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In the early 1980s, there were further excavations at the site which revealed a sequence of three substantial enclosures, which dated from the Late Iron Age and early Roman periods.

It is thought the enclosures could have been a place where rituals took place or used as shrines and temples, and as a major religious site for the Iceni tribe

Archaeologists believe the complex was dismantled by Roman soldiers around AD 60 or 61, the date of Boudicca's uprising and defeat at the hands of the Romans. It is even thought that at some point the site could have been visited by Boudicca.

County archaeologist David Gurney, who has been campaigning for more than 20 years to get the site protected, said: “Although the site is now protected, its long-term future remains uncertain.

“Much of the area around it may be developed in the years ahead, leaving the site as a much-needed greenfield site surrounded by industrial units and houses. That's far from an ideal setting for an important archaeological monument, and careful thought now needs to be given to its future.”

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