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St Mary's - Heacham

The friendly church

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History Page 1

Norfolk - Historically Speaking ………

It is certainly not surprising that Norfolk should have witnessed human activity since the earliest times. Easy communications, a favourable climate, lush vegetation, proximity to coasts, manageable terrains all contributed to ease of access. The period following the last Ice Age naturally saw an influx of animals, pursued by nomadic hunters, later followed by the first farmers and miners (eg. Grimes Graves at Thetford) from the earliest times. We know that Norfolk was home to powerful Iron Age tribes, notably the Iceni as close as Sedgeford, trading with Europe, their dominance rudely interrupted by Roman occupation. Roman coastal forts were constructed, treasures were buried at the approach of new Saxon invaders in anticipation of return, only to be unearthed around 1500 years later, at Snettisham for example. The wealth of regional place names, the -hams, -fords, -tons, -bys testify to these new invaders from the Saxon states, and it would surely be reasonable to assume that the first Christian churches appeared at this time, only to be diffused by the Danish and Viking invaders who followed, prior to the golden age of documented land ownership and church building with the arrival of the Norman landlords, even the notoriously treacherous fenland region around Ely and Lynn eventually giving way to technology. Norfolk certainly heralded a rich background to rapid medieval growth.

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