How ‘deep history’ project aims to open a window on our pre-historic past
PUBLISHED: 12:57 20 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:13 20 May 2019
It’s a land where mammoths once roamed and early humans foraged for food.
And now a new initiative is hoping to draw more visitors to north Norfolk by throwing open a window on the region's pre-historic past - giving a boost to the region's tourist economy.
Rob Young, North Norfolk District Council's head of economic and community development, said the Deep History Coast project aimed to bring the days of mammoths, sabre-toothed tigers and other extinct species back to life.
Mr Young said: "There are some amazing finds that have been discovered in north Norfolk which have informed our understanding of the development of mankind and the evolution of the planet.
"Hand axes have been found, mammoth teeth - almost every day someone finds something of interest."
But Mr Young the issue was that many pre-historic finds were temporary.
"The footprints discovered in Happisburgh [in 2014] were the oldest early human footprints discovered outside Africa and they came and went in a matter of days. They were revealed by a storm, then the sand came and covered them up and they weren't be found again.
"Then there's the West Runton Mammoth - one of the most complete fossilised skeletons of one of the largest mammals that roamed the planet was found and excavated at West Runton. But, of course, there's nothing to be seen of it there now."
The Deep History Coast project has been several years in the making and is getting properly underway this year, with a new mobile phone app made thanks to a £94,000 grant to be launched soon.
Using the app, visitors to the coast will be able to 'see' mammoths and other animals through augmented reality as they make their way along a 22-mile discovery trail from Weybourne to Cart Gap.
Other functions include tide times and a map that can be used offline. There is also a 'time explorer' that lets you see how the landscape looked in the distant past - when Norfolk was connected the continental Europe by the region known as Doggerland - as well as 10,000 years in the future when much of East Anglia is predicted to be under water.
The discovery trail will include a series of information boards or 'monoliths' which visitors can interact with by using the app.
There are also plans to refurbish the North Norfolk Information Centre in Comer into a discovery centre for the trail, and even host a 'Mammoth Marathon' along a part of the coastline.
Mr Young said the soft clay cliffs along the north Norfolk coast - Europe's fastest receding coastline - were considered the best place to study Ice Age geology in the UK.
He said: "People have been coming here to study the area for years, but even many local people aren't really familiar with what some of the finds actually mean.
"There is a fascinating story here and we really want to tell that story. Our purpose is not only to bring more people to north Norfolk but spread where they go and bring them in at different times of the year.
"Our Blue Flag beaches are fantastic and popular in the summer, but you can also have a fantastic time wandering along the beach in the winter, and one of the best times to find a fossil is actually in winter, after a storm."
*The council is hosting a series of events to help businesses learn more about the Deep History Coast project.
These will take place, on Wednesday, May 22, at: The Ship Inn in Weybourne, 9.30am-10.45am; Sheringham's Whelk Coppers Tea Rooms, 11am-1pm; Cromer's Sticky Earth Café, 2pm-3.30pm; on May 23: The Sea Marge Hotel, Overstrand; The Ship Inn, Mundesley, midday - 1.30pm; May 24: The Lighthouse Pub, Walcott, 9.30am-11am; Hill House Pub, Happisburgh, midday, 1.30pm, Smallsticks Café, Cart Gap, 2pm-3pm.
Sarah Bütikofer, council leader, said: "The Deep History Coast is an exciting initiative that has huge potential to extend our tourist season and encourage visitors to North Norfolk all year round which will be fantastic for local businesses.
"If you run a local business, particularly in the visitor and hospitality service, these events are a great opportunity for you to get involved and become an Ambassador for the Deep History Coast so I'd encourage you to come along."
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