Norfolk Update

My final task of the day is to start writing a report on heritage actions at or connected to former RAF Coltishall for the Project Board.  This includes our own work managing heritage assets on the site, preparing heritage statements to accompany planning applications, our work with the Airfield Research Group and the University of East Anglia (the Cold War Anglia project; see, liaison with the Spirit of Coltishall Association, liaison with English Heritage, our work with local communities (we have a formal Community Liaison Reference Group) and special interest groups and dealing with any heritage issues arising from the publication on Wednesday of our Development Vision for the site.

I hope that anyone reading my blog today has found it of some interest.

Best wishes, and have a great weekend.


David Gurney, Historic Environment Manager (County Archaeologist), Norfolk County Council



Norfolk update

Had to take some papers to County Hall in Norwich, so have now relocated to Room 301, an open plan office for the natural environment team where I can hot-desk amongst the arboricultural and woodland officers and technicians.  Now reviewing a draft application to the Heritage Lottery Fund by the Norfolk Windmills Trust, to restore Stracey Arms Mill, beside the A47 Acle Straight (between Norwich and Great Yarmouth) more accessible.  If you’ve even been to Great Yarmouth you might well have been past it.  It is owned by Norfolk County Council, and we want to get its sails back on and, hopefully, turning.

David Gurney, Historic Environment Manager (County Archaeologist), Norfolk County Council.

Norfolk update

As a County Archaeologist, as well as dealing with Norfolk’s wonderful heritage (and I do think that I have one of the best jobs in the county), here are just a few of the other matters that just happen to have crossed my desk this morning:-

*  Briefing a County Councillor on the latest findings on a particular site, currently under investigation, about which she’d been contacted by local “concerned” residents.  Never underestimate the value of keeping local people and politicians “in the loop” and informed about the value of the work that we do in the historic environment.  Advocacy pays dividends!

*  Some Equalities e-learning.  Along with many local authorities we will be reviewing services as we set our budgets for the next few years, and any changes may be subject to Equalities Impact Assessments.

*  A local heritage trust asking if we can help them with the funding of some steps up the mound of a castle in their ownership.

*  Someone seems to have just done something which is preventing an increasing number of my team accessing our networked database, the Norfolk Historic Environment Record.  Hard to do much work without it, so that needs to be sorted by our IT people a.s.a.p.  For an online version of the HER see

*  More about former RAF Coltishall and, specifically, the County Council’s latest plans for Battle of Britain Day and where the Spitfire (Battle of Britain Memorial Flight from Lincolnshire) will be flying!

*  Shortlisting for a post in the County Council’s natural environment team, with whom we work very closely of course.

David Gurney, Historic Environment Manager (County Archaeologist), Norfolk County Council




Norfolk update

To see what a County Council Historic Environment Service gets up to, see our latest Annual Review (for 2012-13) just out and downloadable from

More activity on the project front this morning, following a visit to the Gressenhall offices yesterday by Dr Simon Kaner of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Art and Culture and no fewer than two Professors of Archaeology from Tokyo.  We are forging links between Norfolk and Nagawa around common themes such as the mining of obsidian (Japan) and flint (Norfolk – Grimes Graves) and forestry, and hope to develop this into some joint projects in the years ahead, perhaps involving investigations into prehistoric burial mounds in the Brecks, the Iron Age fort and medieval motte and bailey castle at Thetford, and the medieval rabbit warrens in the Brecks.  If you’ve not discovered the best rabbit warrening landscape in the world, see

Also a possible future Landscape Partnership project on a stretch of the Norfolk coastline, following on from our previous surveys of heritage assets in the coastal zone, our work on the coastal zone from aerial photographs (English Heritage National Mapping Programme), and current work on access to the coast, including its many heritage assets, from the 700,000+ year old flints at Happisburgh to World War Two coastal defences.

David Gurney, Historic Environment Manager (County Archaeologist), Norfolk County Council




Day of Archaeology – Norfolk

This morning I’ll be working mainly on former RAF Coltishall, a World War Two and Cold War airfield, which closed in 2006 and which Norfolk County Council bought in 2013.  This currently takes up a lot of my time, and little did I expect when I started digging in 1970 that one day a) I’d be a County Archaeologist and b) that we’d have expanded the scope of our interest to include, for example, milestones and other roadside heritage assets, and buildings as recent as 1980 (another Cold War heritage asset, a rare DIY bunker just outside Norwich).  Anyway, I’m just about to make two calls.  The first to a conservator at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford (Cambs) to get some advice on how best to maintain and/or restore the huge military murals painted during the First Gulf War on the insides of the steel doors of Hangar 1.  Second to a local resident who turns out to have detailed knowledge of the site, including the World War Two E-pens, for Spitfires or Hurricanes, two of which are extant and one of which we have just cleared of ivy, undergrowth and weeks (through our Norfolk Monuments Management Project).  He also knows about our three Pickett-Hamilton forts, two of which were very recently relocated by the Airfield Research Group, hiding under the turf (and locations not known to anyone who I’ve met on site, some of whom have been there for decades and involved in its maintenance).  Also they are not visible on aerial photographs, which I would have expected.

David Gurney, Historic Environment Manager (County Archaeologist), Norfolk County Council