Norfolk - History

History

Norfolk was settled in pre-Roman times, with camps along the higher land in the west where flints could be quarried. A Brythonic tribe, the Iceni, inhabited the county from the first century BC, to the end of the first century (AD). The Iceni revolted against the Roman invasion in 47 AD, and again in 60 AD led by Boudica. The crushing of the second rebellion opened the county to the Romans. During the Roman era in Norfolk roads and ports were constructed throughout the county and farming took place.

Situated on the east coast, Norfolk was vulnerable to invasion from Scandinavia and northern Europe, and forts were built to defend against the Angles and Saxons. By the 5th century the Angles, after whom East Anglia and England itself are named, had established control of the region and later became the "north folk" and the "south folk", hence, "Norfolk" and "Suffolk". Norfolk, Suffolk and several adjacent areas became the kingdom of East Anglia, which later merged with Mercia and then Wessex. The influence of the Early English settlers can be seen in the many place names ending in "-ton", and "-ham". Endings such as "-by" or "-thorpe" are also common, indicating Danish place names: in the 9th century the region again came under attack, this time from Danes who killed the king, Edmund the Martyr. In the centuries before the Norman Conquest the wetlands of the east of the county began to be converted to farmland, and settlements grew in these areas. Migration into East Anglia must have been high as by the time of the Conquest and Domesday Book survey it was one of the most densely populated parts of the British Isles. During the high and late Middle Ages the county developed arable agriculture and woollen industries. Norfolk's prosperity at that time is evident from the county's large number of mediaeval churches: of an original total of over one thousand, 659 survive, more than in the whole of the rest of Great Britain. The economy was in decline by the time of the Black Death, which dramatically reduced the population in 1349; suffice to say that the current population has yet to equal the population before that time. Over one-third of the population of Norwich died during a plague epidemic in 1579. By the 16th century Norwich had grown to become the second largest city in England, but in 1665 the Great Plague again killed around one third of the population. During the English Civil War Norfolk was largely Parliamentarian. The economy and agriculture of the region declined somewhat. During the industrial revolution Norfolk developed little industry except in Norwich and was a late addition to the railway network.

In the 20th century the county developed a role in aviation. The first development in airfields came with the First World War; there was then a massive expansion during the Second World War with the growth of the Royal Air Force and the influx of the American USAAF 8th Air Force which operated from many Norfolk Airfields. During the Second World War agriculture rapidly intensified, and it has remained very intensive since with the establishment of large fields for growing cereals and oil seed rape.

Norfolk's low-lying land and easily eroded cliffs, many of which are chalk and clay, make it vulnerable to the sea, the most recent major event being the North Sea flood of 1953. The low-lying section of coast between Kelling and Lowestoft Ness in Suffolk is currently managed by the Environment Agency to protect the Broads from sea flooding. Management policy for the North Norfolk coastline is described in the North Norfolk Shoreline Management Plan which was published in 2006 but has yet to be accepted by the local authorities. The Shoreline Management Plan states that the stretch of coast will be protected for at least another 50 years, but that in the face of sea level rise and post-glacial lowering of land levels in the South East, there is an urgent need for further research to inform future management decisions, including the possibility that the sea defences may have to be realigned to a more sustainable position. Natural England have contributed some research into the impacts on the environment of various realignment options. The draft report of their research was leaked to the press, who created great anxiety by reporting that Natural England plan to abandon a large section of the Norfolk Broads, villages and farmland to the sea to save the rest of the Norfolk coastline from the impact of climate change.

Read more about this topic:  Norfolk

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