Wayland history book launch is a success

The Wayland community came together this weekend to find out about its history at a successful event celebrating a �124,000 heritage project.

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

Villagers from Ashill, Carbrooke, Great Hockham, Griston, Little Cressingham, Merton, Ovington, Saham Toney, Scoulton and Thompson, as well as Watton residents, formed individual research groups to discover the past from their particular areas.

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

Work started in January 2009, and the culmination of three years work was displayed at the Wells Cole Community Centre in Bell Lane, Saham Toney, yesterday.

A total of 13 different books, one for each community, were created from the research and copies, costing �8, are available from Wayland House. A dvd with additional material is also included with the books.

Between 200 and 300 people from across Norfolk, and as far away as Manchester, came to the exibition at the community centre where each community had its own stand to show what had been discovered from their area.

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During that evening 100 people, including Nigel Wilkin, chairman of Breckland Council, Watton mayor Michael Wassell and the volunteers who carried out the research, attended the official launch of the books.

Mr Wilkin was presented with a complete set of the 13 books and will present them to Breckland Council at the next full council meeting.

Jan Godfrey, chairman of the trustees of the Wayland Trust, said: 'It was an absolutely wonderful event. The project was hard work and many people came to see the exhibition. They were fascinated.

'Heritage research grabs people in a really special way. Whether it is researching a church or families, when people get their teeth into something they have to keep digging. The fascinating thing is that you never find out everything. It is amazing how well people have worked together.'

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.

She added that the partnership wants to do more research into aspects of Wayland's history, including the wider impact of the railway and the inter-relationship of markets.