Home » Discovering » Cultural Heritage in the Norfolk Coast Area
Windmill at Cley

Cultural Heritage in the Norfolk Coast Area

Evidence for people living in the Norfolk Coast area goes back hundreds of thousands of years, and archaeological sites and landscape features record human influences since the Bronze Age. There are large numbers of sites of historic and archaeological significance – and the landscape itself is part of the historic environment.

Use the Norfolk Heritage Explorer to find out more.

Key Cultural Heritage Sites

One of the best known pieces of evidence for early cultural influences is the Bronze Age timber circle, known as Seahenge, discovered on the beach at Holme-next-the-Sea in the late 1990s, constructed over 4000 years ago. Preserved timbers from this rare example of a timber structure from this period are now housed in King’s Lynn Museum.

There are also many fine churches, from the grand to the humble, from various periods. Many of these are open to the public and each is an historic record in itself.

With important sites from the two World Wars, this more recent archaeology is now becoming more recognised. There are various features, including old airfields and camps – get a feel for this recent period at Langham Dome.

The quality of light and landscape has long attracted artists, and the unique character and atmosphere has inspired many writers.

Norfolk Coast Historic Parks, Estates and Houses

Estates have played an important role in the development of the landscape and continue to do so today, bringing a sense of order and often distinctive building styles. In most cases, the influence of the designed parkland is obvious both from maps and on the ground. The heyday of their development was often the 18th and 19th centuries but many have older roots.

Although there are historic country houses such as Waxham and Burnley Halls in the east, the influence of large estates becomes noticeable on the Cromer Ridge, particularly with Felbrigg and Sheringham parks and estates, now owned by the National Trust. Smaller parks exist at Bayfield and Letheringsett in the Glaven valley, and at Stiffkey.

Further west is Holkham Hall with its large park and estate. The smaller Hunstanton park sits in the north-west with Sandringham estate and its park and royal residence to the south of this. Most of the parks and some of the houses associated with these estates are at least partly open to the public.

Cultural Heritage Designations

Within the area, there are:

  • 59 Scheduled Monuments
  • 6 Historic Parks and Gardens
  • 42 Conservation Areas (part of almost all settlements)
  • Numerous listed buildings

Further information

Historical Perspective and Overview

An historical perspective and overview of the area produced for the Norfolk Coast Project in 1993 gives more detail about the history of estates on different parts of the area.

Access Historical Perspective and Overview 1 – Norfolk Coast Partnership  

Access Historical Perspective and Overview 2 – Norfolk Coast Partnership 

Access Historical Perspective and Overview 3 – Norfolk Coast Partnership 

Conservation Designations Summary

You can find out more about historic environment designations in the Conservation Designations Summary Appendix to the 2014-19 Norfolk Coast Partnership Management Plan.

Download Conservation Designations Summary Appendix – Norfolk Coast Partnership >

Historic Sites Active Map

See the ‘historic sites’ on our active map for some of the key historic and archaeological sites in and around the area.

Visit the Active Map – Norfolk Coast Partnership

Norfolk Heritage Explorer – Norfolk Historic Environment Service

The Norfolk Heritage Explorer is provided by the Norfolk Historic Environment Service and provides an opportunity to access an abridged version of the Norfolk Historic Environment Record database online.

Access Norfolk Heritage Explorer – Norfolk Historic Environment Service > 

Skip to content