Community Digs

The aim of our community digs is to try to uncover evidence of early occupation in Docking. By mapping out the location of finds from different time periods we can better understand how the layout of the village has changed or moved since the settlement first began.

Sites of our digs. Click the map for a full-size view.

We started the project in 2012 when over the course of a weekend we dug a series of test pits in people’s gardens and in a field attached to the school. Since then we’ve dug around 30 test pits at various sites covering much of Docking. You can read here about how to dig a test pit.

When we began back in 2012 we were guided by archaeologists from Norfolk Historic Environment Services who taught us how to carry out test pitting in the correct way. Since those early days we have formed a good working relationship with other groups and are now fortunate enough to have the help and assistance from our friends at SHARP (Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project) and Kings Lynn Metal Detecting Club with the identification and recording of the finds and features uncovered. Indeed members of SHARP even helped us by carrying out a geophysical survey of one site and the adjacent field.


The tip of a flint tool about 6000 years old (Neolithic)
Glazed Grimston ware 13th-14th century (Medieval)


The finds from our digs, along with those already known about, have allowed us to begin mapping the location and layout of the early village.


As with any archaeological digs our finds are many and varied. They range in date from modern to neolithic and include pottery, butchered bone, worked flint and evidence of buildings. You can see some of the types of things we have uncovered on this page.

A number of interesting finds have been discovered from the Roman, Saxon and Medieval periods as well as later material. These finds, together with those already on record, have allowed us to begin mapping the location and layout of the early village and are beginning to show us that Docking was quite a large settlement from the Saxon period and possibly even as far back as Roman times, although there is evidence emerging that there have been people living here from at least the Iron Age.


More medieval pottery
Unidentified wall

The main area of occupation of many villages has moved over the years meaning that what are now empty fields were once filled with houses, workshops etc. Docking is different and slightly unusual in that respect in that the fields surrounding the village, with a few exceptions, were much as they are now, agricultural land.  This is indicated by the small number or lack of finds in them seen during survey work or field walking while the current centre of occupation has many more finds in it. So Docking doesn’t seem to have moved very far since its formation in the Roman period some 2000 years ago. The same areas have been used for building over and over again so it looks like the earliest parts of Docking may well lie under the modern village that’s here today.

Saxon Docking. Click the map for a full-size view.

This map shows the location of finds, mainly pottery, from one period in time, the Saxon period. Mapping the finds from different periods like this shows where the settlement was during those times. This map shows that some of the residents of Docking are living in the same place their ancestors once did more than 1000 years ago.

We were very fortunate that one of our group members allowed us access to their garden on more than one occasion while they worked on their house.  This Big Dig meant we were able to go back to the same site for three years in a row so were able to dig a larger area than we would normally do and this proved very successful indeed.


What have you found?

Have you found anything in your garden? It can be surprisingly easy to find something of great age, although often it’s not easy to recognise. How many times have you picked up something like the examples shown in the pictures and thrown it away because you weren’t aware of its significance.

Thetford ware, Late Saxon, 850 – 1100 AD
Glazed Grimston ware, 13th-14th century
Glazed red earthenware, 16th-17th century

These pieces were found by simply looking through the soil dug up by moles and rabbits. Not a single hole was dug. It can be that easy

If you do find something that you’re not sure about, we can arrange to have it identified for you. So if you would like to carry out a small excavation in your garden and want advice on how to go about it, or assistance to dig it, then do contact us.


Would you like to help?

We dig mostly in people’s gardens and use groups of keen volunteers to help us dig. Do you have a suitable area of land in Docking where you would allow us to put in a test pit (don’t worry, we do put everything back afterwards) or would you like to be an archaeologist for a day and help with a dig? You never know what you’ll unearth; you may not find anything at all or you could be that one scrape of a trowel away from a nationally important find.

A community dig can be great fun and is a good way to get families involved in finding out about the place they live. If you would like to help in any way at any of our community digs please let us know. We always welcome willing volunteers and it’s also a good way to learn how to carry out a dig yourself. Lunchtime refreshments are provided.

If you’re interested in helping in some way then please contact one of our members for more details, or send us a message through the website. You can also find out about any upcoming digs we have or news of our past digs here on the website.