The area to the south of the Camping and Caravanning Club site is steeped in history and is part of the reason for the location of the magnificent city of Norwich. Just across the River Yare is the remains of a Henge, unfortunately not visible from the ground, that dates to the late Neolithic to early Bronze Age (4000 BC to 800 BC. This was part of an extensive burial system in the area, which extended nearly as far as the old Roman town that is the target for this walk.
The walk joins to Boudicca Way shortly after crossing the river, this section is along the road. The route is named after the Iceni Queen who led a rebellion against Roman rule in 60 AD which almost overthrew their rule in Britain. At that time the Iceni were a powerful tribe that lived in the area covered by modern day east Cambridgeshire, north Suffolk and Norfolk.
Finally, you get to walk the tranquil paths of the area as pass around a quarry that has been in production for a considerably number of years. Initially for the extraction of chalk and latterly for sands and gravel. The chalk was created towards the end of the Cretaceous Period, approximately 75 million year ago and is a great source of molluscs and sea urchin fossils. The whole area has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is on private land that does not have public access.
The small village of Arminghall is another place that is steeped in history, unfortunately not much of it now remains above the surface to view. Arminghall Manor House was a medieval moated house, but all that remains of that time is now the moat with the substantial farmstead having been changed many times over the subsequent centuries. St Mary’s Church is known to have been here since medieval times but was virtually rebuilt in 1876.
High Ash Farm is a haven for wildlife with half the farm being set aside for wildlife crops this has resulted in a wide variety of wildlife establishing healthy populations at High Ash including barn owls, skylarks, goldfinches, reed buntings, hares, badgers, deer, foxes, solitary bees, grass snakes, orchids and bluebells. There are permissive paths around the farm that can be taken to enjoy the full experience. Also within the farm is Tatterfly Wildflowers, they grow wildflowers for the consumer market along organic and traditional methods. www.highashfarm.com for up to date maps of their permissive walks.
The Roman administrative town for the area, Venta Icenorum, is one of only three ‘greenfield Roman regional capitals that were not built over in either medieval or modern times. Possibly due to the establishment and development of Norwich. There is a Roman road, Stone Street, that runs from here to the once thriving port of Dunwich on the Suffolk coast.
The current Caistor Old Hall was built in 1612 on the site of a medieval manor, the house was extended in the 1800 and 1900’s. The outbuildings have gradually been converted into dwellings, including the Dovecote! Almost across the road is Caistor Hall Hotel, which has connections to the Pettus family who built what was is now the Old Hall. This site again seems to date back to medieval times and came under the jurisdiction of the Bury St Edmunds Abbey, until the dissolution. The current building was built by the Dashwood family in 1795, the reign of George III. Possibly the son of the builder of this Georgian Mansion was the Reverend Horatio Dashwood whose body is interred in St Edmunds Church within the site of the Roman town.