Saturday, June 13, 2009

Brancaster Ring


This walk has it all. Like Jesus you can walk by the seaside and on the hills above the sea. There are woods and wayside flowers, birds, heritage sites . And to top it all, there’s Noah’s Ark(!), or something that looks like it, the man in the moon (!) and a love story waiting to be discovered.

. I parked the car at Brancaster Staithe and walked east along the Coastal Path, past fishermen’s huts and boats high and dry on low tide mudflats. At Noah’s Ark I turned inland going a little of my route to look into Burnham Deepdale’s round-towered church.

Next to the busy coast road the cool interior is an oasis of calm. The church has some notable medieval glass – that’s where I found the man in the moon - as well as an interesting font with carved labours of the month around the edge. Across the road there’s a great café too!

Passing the café on my left, I took the next left uphill, along a metalled road through rolling farm land and into a shady wood with noble beech trees.

At Barrow Common I took the path that leads over the hill and down to the coastal road once more . Across the road is a large open space. An interpretation board identifies it as the site of Brandonium, the Roman shore fort. There’s nothing much to see. The once lofty walls were used as a stone quarry by later builders going into local churches and flint built cottages.


Sometime, in the 4th or 5th century, someone left a betrothal ring here. A tragic loss, buried for safe keeping, or thrown away? Who knows! There’s a love story waiting to be written! What ever the back story, the ring remained undiscovered until 1829 and now resides in Norwich’s Castle Museum.

The design is conventional. The heads of a couple face each other. The inscription makes it special, the oldest Christian artefact in the county. It reads “VIVAS IN DEO” – live in God. A recipe for Christian living then as now. At the edge of the marsh I turned right and walked back to the Staithe as swallows swooped over the reed beds

The walk is half Norfolk Circular Walk No.9 which you can find on the internet at http://www.countrysideaccess.norfolk.gov.uk/circular-walks.aspx. You can get to and from Brancaster Staithe on the Coast Hopper bus service.

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