Hunt is on for Ice Age 'ghost pingos' in Norfolk

Norfolk Wildlife Trust is excavating Watering Farm in the hunt of prehistoric ghost pingos

Norfolk Wildlife Trust is excavating Watering Farm in the hunt of prehistoric ghost pingos - Credit: NWT

Prehistoric ponds dating back to the days when mammoths roamed Norfolk could be rediscovered and brought back to life.

The Norfolk Wildlife Trust is hoping to reinvigorate extremely rare 'ghost pingo' ponds - which date back to the Ice Age.

The ponds previously existed on the edge of Thompson Common, near Thetford, but over the centuries have been lost after being frequently filled for agricultural use.

Watering Farm in Thompson Common being excavated by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust

Watering Farm in Thompson Common is being excavated by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust - Credit: NWT

However, conservationists are hoping they can not only be dug up but also be regenerated for the benefit of local wildlife.

The NWT will spend the remainder of this week digging deep into the earth at Watering Farm in search of the original sites of the pingos - which will be given away by a layer of black peat.

And it is hoped that once they do this, they will unearth seeds and other organic matter which can be used to bring the pingos back to life.

Last year, four of these pingos were discovered by the NWT, but it is believed there could have been up to 20 - with the Trust determined to find the rest.

Jonathan Preston, of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, at Watering Farm

Jonathan Preston, of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, at Watering Farm - Credit: NWT

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Jonathan Preston, NWT area manager, said: "The prospect of rediscovering further pingos at Watering Farm is thrilling.

"It takes a great deal of detective work to establish the locations of these Ice Age relics, so there is a lot of excitement as we dig down into the earth, knowing we're reaching far back into history to support wildlife in the future.

"Our work at Watering Farm is helping to extend this unique habitat, providing more space for wildlife that is better connected across the landscape.

"This will help to buffer the existing sensitive habitats of Thompson Common, create even more space for special Brecks wildlife and help it adapt to the impacts of climate change." 

Thompson Common, near Thetford

Thompson Common, near Thetford - Credit: NWT

The site is not the last the Trust plans to excavate in search of these ancient 'pingos'.

It has recently purchased Mere Farm, a 130-acre site bordering Thompson Common, where experts believe more pingos could lay.

The Trust is working alongside academics from University College London and Brighton University on the project, alongside members of the Norfolk Ponds Project and Norfolk Geodiversity Partnership.

One of the pingos at Watering Farm which has already been discovered

One of the pingos at Watering Farm which has already been discovered - Credit: NWT