Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

The East Anglian county of Norfolk has some of the most unusual prehistoric sites in England. The pockmarked landscape of Grime’s Graves testifies to intensive Neolithic flint mining, while the Bronze Age timber circle often called ‘Seahenge’ is now preserved at a museum in King’s Lynn. Iron Age sites can also be found in the county, as at Bloodgate Hill Hillfort, while the impact of the Roman occupation is on display at Caister Roman Fort and the coastal Burgh Castle. The Norman invaders also left their mark on the Norfolk landscape, especially with their keep at Norwich Castle, now operating as a museum. Later in the Middle Ages, the county became home to Castle Acre Priory, a Cluniac establishment that remains one of the finest surviving medieval monasteries in England. Norfolk is also home to several impressive late medieval and early modern houses, as at the ruined Baconsthorpe Castle or at Oxburgh Hall.

Archaeology & History Sites in Norfolk

Burgh Castle Roman Fort

One of the most impressive surviving Roman sites in Britain, with three of the four surrounding walls surviving to almost their original height. The fourth wall has long since fallen into the marshes surrounding the fort. Built around 300 AD, for over 100 years it was one of the so-called Saxon Shore forts defending the south east coast of Roman Britain. The fort itself was occupied by soldiers and sailors, while a large civilian settlement developed beyond the walls. Historians believe the Roman name for the fort was Gariannonum.

Caister Roman Fort

Built while southern Britain was part of the Roman Empire, the fort at Caister was likely designed to defend against marauding Germanic seafarers along what Roman sources called the ‘Saxon Shore’. The fort was constructed around the start of the 3rd century AD and continued in use until the late 4th century AD. The fort was home not only to between 500 and 1000 men, but also many of their family members too. Excavated in the 1950s, it provided much information about daily life in the Roman period.

Houghton Hall, Home of Robert Walpole

Built in the 1720s for Britain’s first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall in Norfolk is one of England’s finest Palladian houses. The magnificent state rooms were sumptuously decorated by William Kent, with painted ceilings and suites of carved and gilded furniture. Walpole was an extravagant host, and the house reflects this still today. The house is set in an extensive park. The stables house the Soldier Museum, the largest private collection of model soldiers in the world. Houghton Hall is now the home of 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley, but is open to the public.

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Museums & Art Galleries in Norfolk

Lynn Museum, King's Lynn

A local history museum, with displays about West Norfolk from prehistory to the recent past. There are two exhibition halls. In the first is the Bronze Age Seahenge – a replica and some of the prehistoric timbers tell the story of this extraordinary site found in 1998. The second is a converted Union Baptist Chapel built in 1859. Here you will find a fascinating collection of objects from the Iron Age to more recent periods. These include a hoard of Iceni gold coins to Victorian fairground gallopers.

Swaffham Museum – Swaffham

Swaffham Museum is housed in a townhouse on Swaffam’s Georgian market place. With a diverse range of artefacts, from local archaeology to 20th century Swaffham, a number of displays tell the social history of the town and its surrounding villages. Of particular interest to people of all ages is the Howard Carter gallery, which explores the world’s most famous Egyptologist’s links with the town and recreates his 1922 discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. The museum is a good starting point for exploring the town on a self guided history trail.