Reconstructing an Iron Age roundhouse at Cockley Cley

During the early 1990s, Trevor directed excavations at several sites for the Norfolk Archaeological Unit, mostly in advance of highway construction. The excavations on the line of the Norwich Southern Bypass at Harford Farm, Caistor St Edmund, have become best known for the finds of prehistoric barrow remants and an extraordinary Anglo-Saxon cemetery. In fact, many of the jewellery finds from the cemetery are now part of the permanent displays at Norwich Castle Museum. But traces of a settlement dating to the Iron Age (c. 700 BC–c. AD 69) were found too. The finds included the remains of at least two post-built roundhouses, as well as pits and evidence for field divisions. The picture above shows one of them as it was excavated.

We were delighted to be approached by the Iceni Centre at Cockley Cley, in west Norfolk (, for specialist advice on reconstructing prehistoric buildings. The well-known Iceni Village recreation had stood here for over twenty years and was well known to many Norfolk people from visits and school trips. However, the Centre realised that it was ripe for overhaul and renewal, and are keen to incorporate the latest research into Iron Age buildings in Norfolk in their latest scheme.

Harford Farm roundhouse to be reconstructed ...World Tree has shared with the Iceni Centre the plans of two of the buildings excavated and recorded at Harford Farm, along with suggestions about how they could be reconstructed convincingly. This is an interesting challenge, because the excavated buildings themselves had been heavily ploughed when they were found by archaeologists. A good deal of guesswork is needed - but several people and organisations have devoted themselves to building and living in prehistoric buildings of this kind. We have studed the literature carefully and worked with an architect to come up with a structural scheme which we think is viable. We hope that work on the building will start this year!