How to investigate the archaeology of an area

If you are interested in investigating the archaeology of a specific area but aren't sure how to find out more, this short 'How to...' guide should provide enough information to get you started.

Step 1 Investigate the Norfolk Heritage Explorer

The Norfolk Heritage Explorer website contains thousands of records relating to Norfolk's archaeology. It is the online version of the Norfolk Historic Environment Record and is the first place to look for information about local archaeology. To begin your research you may like to read the appropriate Parish Summary available in the parishes section of the website.

Step 2 Look into the Norfolk Historic Environment Record

The website is the online gateway to the Norfolk Historic Environment Record. From the web you can access digital information. There is also a large paper archive of secondary files kept at our offices at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse. These contain extra information like illustrations, excavation reports and building surveys. You can identify whether there is more information in the paper archive by looking for 'Secondary File' under the sources section of each record on the website. Keep a note of the NHER numbers for the records you want to investigate. You can then make an appointment to view the secondary files by contacting us by:

Email by clicking the link here

Telephone: 01362 869 282

Fax: 01362 860 951

Address: Norfolk Historic Environment Record

             Union House



             NR20 4DR

You may like to consult the Norfolk Air Photography Library which is also housed at the offices of Norfolk Historic Environment Service and is open to the public by appointment. The library contains over 85000 images of Norfolk, and consists of a number of collections.

The largest of these contains over 40,000 photographs taken by Derek A. Edwards between 1974 and 2000. These are images taken of archaeological sites throughout the county and provide an excellent record of Norfolk's heritage.

The other collections include:

  • 8,412 vertical photographs taken by the RAF as part of the National Air Survey of 1946 (available online at
  • 2,307 vertical and oblique photographs from the ‘Floodlight’ Project taken by the RAF during and after the coastal floods of February 1953
  • 11,000 vertical photographs taken by the Ordnance Survey for mapping purposes. Many at 1:2500 scale. 
  • Google Earth! (in many areas, archaeological cropmarks are visible) 

Step 3 Follow up sources

Listed in the source section of each record on the website you will find a variety of different references that may help you find out more about your area. Some of these will be in the secondary files at Gressenhall but others will be available in libraries or online. They include:

  • websites
  • books
  • articles within journals (such as Norfolk Archaeology, the annual journal of the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society))
  • the monograph series East Anglian Archaeology (

Step 4 Investigate other research resources

You may also like to investigate other research resources. These can be separated into different types:


E-Map Explorer

See the changing face of the Norfolk landscape with the Norfolk E-Map Explorer. The site allows users to view and compare 19th century historical maps and 20th century aerial photographs of Norfolk.

NOAH (Norfolk Online Access to Heritage)

Picture Norfolk. Available from


Victoria County History of Norfolk, Ed. W. Page (1906)


Faden (1797).

Faden's map was the first large-scale map (at one inch to the mile) of the whole county. It was first published in 1797 and is still used extensively in landscape studies of Norfolk and East Anglia.

Tithe and Enclosure Maps (see

Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 1 inch (1824 to 36).

Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 2 inch (1813).

Ordnance Survey 2nd Edition 25 inch (1902 to 7).

Archives and Study Centres

Norfolk Heritage Centre.

Whether you’re interested in tracing your family tree, the history of your community or any aspect of Norfolk life in the past, the Norfolk Heritage Centre is the ideal place to visit, with over a third of a million items to help with your research.

Norfolk Record Office.

Step 5 Write up and record

So that others can benefit from your research, please deposit a copy of any original research with the appropriate record centre. You might also think of publishing an article in your local parish or church magazine.





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