In recent weeks, the Exploring Our Footpaths project in Reepham – co-ordinated for CPRE Norfolk by Trevor and Imogen, along with their colleague Helen Lindsay – has been gathering pace. During October and November we ran a series of four guided walks for the public.
We wanted to encourage people to come along and appreciate the extremely varied countryside surrounding the town. As well as on roads and pathways, the emphasis was very much on features in the landscape that have now vanished. We passed deserted medieval settlements, moats and a hermit's chapel but also we also 'encountered' much older remains. These included one of Roman Norfolk's 'trunk roads' and a pair of Bronze Age burial mounds. These sites are both crossed by footpaths but are now completely invisible at the surface. As well as drawing attention to how the landscape has changed over thousands of years, we also wanted to tell people more about how archaeologists and historians set about learning more about the landscape, and about what sources are available to those who wish to know more.
The walks on the weekend 16-17 November were unusual in that they involved elements of performance and participation. With the aid of sound, imagery and scent, walkers were encouraged at pivotal moments to try and 'step back into the footsteps' of prehistoric and medieval folk who had passed this way hundreds or thousands of years ago. The adventure climaxed when the group helped 'discover' a flattened prehistoric burial mound with the aid of dowsing rods.
The walks were fully subscribed and were blessed with good weather. They were very enjoyable occasions. We met many more people from the area who share our interests. We may now have the basis of a small team of people who would be interested in helping with a little research and fieldwork on and around individual footpaths before the project ends in April 2014.