An Englishman’s home is his castle, apparently. But yesterday the drawbridge was let down as hundreds of people were able to invade - and dig up - a host of private gardens in a historic north Norfolk village.

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Dr Carenza Lewis, from TV’s Time Team, joined the mass archaeological excavation at 28 sites - including gardens and public spaces - at Paston, near North Walsham.

Dig and Sow saw the visitors turning over the soil at the locations, looking for items of interest then burying tiny silver charms designed to represent things that are special to Norfolk.

The took their turn at being diggers, sievers, washers, recorders and helpers.

The village was chosen because of its rich history, including its link to the Paston family, famed for the Paston Letters, along with its proximity to a coast that is rich in archaeological finds from thousands of years ago.

Steve and Ros Clarke saw hundreds of people traipsing about in their gardens, with four dig locations situated in their grounds.

They were conducting one of the digs themselves, and Mr Clarke said: “We bought the house in September and moved in in March. We weren’t aware of the history of Paston, so we are as interested as anybody else in what will be found.

“It’s fine having people in our garden. We’ve only just moved here, and we haven’t done much with it yet.”

Dr Lewis said: “This is a wonderful way of making people feel connected with their past. There’s a sense of the whole community coming together.

“People love it because you can physically dig into the ground and know that you’ve uncovered something new. It’s like being able to see in four dimensions, with the past as the fourth dimension.”

Dig and Sow is part of On Landguard Point, a Pacitti Company project that is part of the Cultural Olympiad.

Artist Robert Pacitti said 205 digs would take place across the region - one for every nation taking part in the London 2012 Olympics.

At the heart of the project is an investigation into people’s notions of home.

Similar digs are taking place all over the east of England, with previous ones having taken place in Acle and Garboldisham.

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