Our Deep History Coast

Published: Wednesday 17th Feb 2016

Written by: Lucy Downing

A new reason to visit Norfolk…

We all know about the Jurassic Coast down in Dorset – rich in fossil finds and perfect for beach-combing.  However, did you know about the Deep History Coast in Norfolk?  I didn’t think so!

To explain, we need to head back a few hundred thousand years ago, to a time when Norfolk was connected to the continent.  Picture sabre-toothed tigers, mammoths, spotted hyenas and macaque monkeys.

The gradual coastal erosion and tidal activity of recent years has begun to unveil new secrets about this era, making the area of coastline stretching from Cromer to Happisburgh of greater historical significance than that of down south.  Finds include an almost complete skeleton of a Steppe Mammoth at West Runton, 850,000 year-old ancient human footprints at Happisburgh, 550,000 year-old flint hand axes, 850,000 year-old flint tools and rare fossils of some of the animals listed above.

Plans are afoot to secure funding to allow the story to be told to visitors through monuments, touch points and reality technology.  Hopefully soon, you will be able to stand on a clifftop on the east coast, hold your laptop or mobile up in front of you and witness the landscape as it would have been in ancient times.  I simply can’t wait.

I also tend to agree with Jill Cook of the British Museum, who says, “We think Norfolk is punching below its weight and this should become the Mecca for people to come to if they want to find out about the early occupation of Europe.”

After all, the Happisburgh footprints are proof that Norfolk was one of the earliest destinations to welcome tourists.  Shouldn’t we all wish to follow in their footsteps…?


Lucy Downing
Lucy Downing


I enjoy walking along Norfolk's beaches with my family and dog, theatre trips, dancing, laughing and knocking up a scrumptious feast for friends using local produce finished with a tipple of Norfolk Saffron's King Harry orange and saffron liqueur!


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