On 31st July 2023 Norfolk Archaeological Trust celebrated it’s 100th birthday and with it the launch of a new project, Norfolk Archaeology Trust: Its Centenary and Beyond. (NAT 100 for short) Supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project will help Norfolk Archaeological Trust, in partnership with Norfolk Record Office (NRO), to celebrate its first hundred years and improve its resilience for the future.

Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project will enable greater accessibility to NAT’s archive which will be catalogued and much of it will be made available online. Young people from Norwich Young Archaeologists’ Club will also assist in creating a public exhibition promoting NAT’s history and its sites, learning skills in research, curation and exhibition display. Alongside this, a programme of events will be happening at NAT sites, the NRO and online as well as archiving volunteering opportunities. The Trust will also be working with the Norfolk Historic Environment Record to digitise photographs and other material related to NAT sites so they can be made available online.

The Norfolk Archaeological Trust (NAT) was founded in 1923 by prominent local figures in the fields of archaeology and history to promote field surveys, organise excavations, research, record and preserve archaeological sites and finds. It was a time when the post-war drive for slum clearance, road widening, and other improvements were putting many buildings under threat of demolition. 1923 was a key year in the history of Norfolk’s conservation organisations as the Norwich Society was also established and Strangers Hall first opened its doors as a museum.

Building preservation was the key work of the Trust in the inter-war period, acquiring and preserving Augustine Steward’s House, Tombland Norwich, Pykerells House, Norwich and Greenland fishery, Kings Lynn, and Bishop Bonner’s cottages in Dereham. Many of these properties were sold by the Trust once their future had been secured and in the later part of the twentieth century the Trust’s focus shifted towards monument acquisition and conservation in the countryside, firstly acquiring Caistor St Edmund Roman Town in 1984.

NAT currently cares for ten monuments in the county. Together they tell the story of Norfolk’s history over thousands of years:  Fiddler’s Hill barrow- a pre-historic burial mound, Bloodgate Iron Age Fort, Caistor St Edmund Roman town, Burgh Castle Roman fort, medieval monasteries at Binham Priory and St Benet’s Abbey, Middleton Mount- a castle mound.

Natalie Butler, NAT director, said “We know that in the inter-war and post war period NAT played a significant role in protecting Norfolk’s monuments and buildings and we’re looking forward to teasing out stories from the archive and raising greater public awareness about the legacy of the Trust and its founding members. With thanks to The National Lottery Fund and National Lottery players, the NAT 100 project will also enable us to  look to the future and our programme of events will focus on bringing new audiences to enjoy our sites.”

Fancy learning new skills? The project will also be offering a number of volunteering opportunities, such as digitisation of documents, cataloguing, indexing. Some volunteering will take place at the Record Office in Norwich, and there are also tasks which can be undertaken from the comfort of your own home at times to suit you.

Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, Norfolk County Council Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships, said: “The Norfolk Record Office is delighted to be working with the Norfolk Archaeological Trust, to help deliver various aspects of the Norfolk Archaeology Trust: Its Centenary and Beyond project. It is looking forward to making it easier for NAT and the public to find items within the NAT archive and to improve access, and to hosting an exhibition about NAT and its sites. We are grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund and to players of the National Lottery for supporting this project.

If you would like to find out more about the project and how to get involved contact:

Jess Johnston, NAT100 Project Manager