Breaking New Ground

Reconnecting People with The Brecks

Mausoleum at Brandon Country Park © Nick Ford

A Window into the Past

The Brecks is steeped in human history, with stories stretching back to the Stone Age.  A Neolithic flint mine, rabbit warrens, Christian buildings, landed estates and infamous inhabitants all have stories to tell.  But we don’t just want to tell these stories, we want to bring them to life and make new discoveries.


Click on the project titles below to find out more.

  1. Forest Planters, 1930s © Forestry Commission

    The People's History of Thetford Forest

    Thetford Forest was created artificially to provide a managed resource of wood for the war effort and the future in general. This represents the largest lowland land use change in the British Isles and was undertaken by hundreds of hard working individuals, a lot of the time, by hand. This project aimed to record and archive the first hand experiences and accounts of the ageing foresters who were part of this feat. Read more »

  2. Brandon Engine House Restoration

    Brandon Park House, set in a country estate of extensive parkland, was built in 1826 by Edward Bliss.  The house was supplied by water, and then later electricity, from a separate Engine House.  This building survives today, with much of its original machinery, and is a great example of a late C19th functional building.  Read more »

  3. (c) Ancient House Museum

    Connecting the Landscape with its Archives

    This project’s aim was to introduce new audiences to collections and archives which will illustrate the distinctive story of the Brecks. Using objects not normally on public display, new exhibitions were created to help people understand heritage and how objects and documents can help inform present and future management of the landscape. Read more »

  4. Trimming Gun Flints © Ancient House Museum

    Flint in the Brecks

    This volunteer led project aimed to research and record the history and distribution of flint mines in the Brecks and uses of flint as a building material, especially for ecclesiastical, public and vernacular buildings through a community led thematic research project. Flint has essentially shaped the Brecks, through it’s early use by humankind as tools such as axe and arrow heads, to building materials and the gunflint industry in later centuries. Read more »

  5. Warreners

    The Internal Archaeology of the Warrens and Lodge Sites

    Rabbits seem to have always been part of the landscape, but they were introduced by the Normans in the twelfth century.  Farmed for their meat and fur, they had to be carefully nurtured in special enclosures called warrens. Read more »

  6. Lambs © Nick Ford

    Sheep in the Brecks

    It may sound baarmy, but sheep have been central to the historic development of the Brecks landscape. Yet their crucial role is scarcely known and appreciated by the public and has not been effectively documented.  Many aspects of this traditional form of land management have disappeared in the past half century. Read more »

  7. East Wretham Heath, former military site.

    Brecks' Military History

    Many people associate the Brecks’ with the eye-catching fly-overs of military aircraft.   Despite a wealth of archival material, the military history of the area has never been fully assessed and recorded.   Nor have some of the most significant remnants of military camps been properly investigated. Read more »

  8. Edward Bliss's Mausoleum at Brandon Country Park © Nick Ford

    Journal of Breckland Studies

    The Journal of Breckland Studies will be an illustrated, professional but accessible record of the Brecks’ rich heritage and diversity.  It will contain articles and information to promote the area, engage people, encourage visits and engender a sense of place and pride in the Brecks. Read more »

  9. © Chris Knight

    Landscape Revolution

    This project, delivered by the landscape history team at the University of East Anglia and keen volunteers, discovered the changing landscape of the Brecks in the period 1700 to 1930. The main topics tackled by the project included uncovering the growth of landed estates and their influence on the landscape, changing designs of parks and gardens, tree planting and enclosure. Volunteers were trained to carry out detailed surveys of cartographic and other documentary sources to establish past land use, vegetation and landownership to create an extensive GIS dataset. The number of volunteers was almost double the original target of 50, and 27 of these went on to conduct independent research projects of their own using their new-found skills. Read more »