Digging up the Past - April 2016

Posted in General Village Interest

A few weeks ago a group of us met on the edge of Great Snoring to try to unearth a relic buried for 3/4 quarters of a century. The relic in questions was a cast iron milepost which was thought to have been buried in the 2nd World War. This opportunity had arisen as a result of some investigation carried out by a new member of the Milestone Society, Ben. Through a variety of means including old maps, satellite technology, a metal detector, a hand crafted probe and painstaking field work Ben discovered what he thought might be a milepost at the site where it should have been displayed. However, this was buried some three feet in a steep bank and there were no guarantees that the object was the milepost or whether it was intact and complete. What followed gave you an idea of what fun it must be to work on the Time Team when patience and common sense were required. There was a palpable nervousness and excitement as the earth was slowly removed. And then the clank of metal and shapes began to emerge. Yes it did appear to be what was hoped for and yes it did seem to be in one piece. As you could imagine it was hardly pristine and resembled the bottom of a boat covered with barnacles. But a bit of cleaning revealed the name of Great Snoring and the correct mileages to Norwich and Wells. Everyone was delighted, none more so than Ben who had put in the hard graft and detective work.
A whistle stop tour of local schools followed arranged by Nigel at Walsingham, Burnham Market and Fakenham where enthusiastic children and teachers happily considered questions of how old the milepost was, why was it buried and where was it made. It was made in 1834 in the foundry of Thomas Brown at Burnham Market and was a one piece casting. Along with signposts, many milestones were removed with a lot of these buried to confuse any invading German troops in the 2nd World War. This particular milepost was just a stone’s throw from Little Snoring Airfield which was the home of squadrons of Lancasters and Mosquitos.
The milepost was then taken back to Nigel's workshop where it will be fully restored and eventually reinstated. It is one of a set of elegant mileposts that adorn the road from Langor Bridge to Wells. These are well worth looking out for.