Community project helps to discover Wayland’s past

Unknown history of Wayland villages has been revealed thanks to a �124,000 project which comes to an end next month.

Led by the Wayland Partnership, based at Wayland House, Watton, between 50 and 100 people became involved in the three year programme.

Communities which took part were Ashill, Carbrooke, Great Cressingham, Great Hockham, Griston, Little Cressingham, Merton, Ovington, Saham Toney, Scoulton, Thompson and Watton.

Jan Godfrey, chairman of the trustees of the Wayland Trust, said: 'There will be an enormous sense of relief that we got through a complicated programme. The knowledge we have ended up with altogether is fantastic.'

The project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, started in January 2009 and the culmination of three years work will be displayed at the Wells Cole Community Centre in Bell Lane, Saham Toney, on Saturday, November 26.

A different book has been created for each community which took part in the project and there will be 50 copies of each version.

Additional material which documents the history of the villages will also been included in the books.

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A free exhibition at the community centre showing Wayland's history and different books will be open to the public from 2pm until 5.30pm on November 26. A formal presentation will start at about 6.30pm.

The work was completed by voluntary groups set up in each village and people who took part were trained in research, computer and photographic skills.

As part of the project they also had help from a heritage officer, who provided support, and there were also several trips to the Norwich Record Office and the archaeological unit at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, near Dereham.

Bronwen Tyler, who is one of the trustees of the Wayland Partnership, said: 'We were a little naive in expecting what it would involve. You start out researching an individual parish council and you inevitably find links between different parish councils and communities. We have helped each other develop our knowledge.'

Interesting items discovered through the project included part of a Roman statue discovered in Ashill, which was one of the main sites for Boudica and her tribe, and Medieval sheet music found covering a 1762 church minute book in Thompson.

Evidence of pingos - Ice Age circular ponds fed by underground streams - were also discovered in Thompson.

Mrs Godfrey said the Wayland Partnership, a voluntary body formed in 1998, will pass on this new historical knowledge to primary schools in the area, as well as Wayland Community High School in Watton.

The partnership aims to do more research into aspects of Wayland's history in the future, including the wider impact of the railway and the inter-relationship of markets.