Onwards & upwards from a farming perspective

Hello, my name is Neil Featherstone of Future Environomics and I have been appointed as part of the Onwards & Upwards project to undertake a review of the management of the 10 sites across the county that Norfolk Archaeological Trust (NAT) owns or manages. I am engaged by NAT for a day per week for the next 18 months to look at how the sites are currently managed and how improvements in efficiency and effectiveness might be achieved through a 5-year Farm Plan.

I have lived in Norfolk for over 18 years, working in landscape management, conservation and tourism with the Norfolk Coast AONB Partnership and until 2014 managing the Brecks Partnership since when I established my own Company.  Having securing over £2.2m for the HLF Breaking New Ground project in the Brecks I have also secured numerous agri-environment and RDPE/LEADER Rural Development grants for a number of landowners, businesses and Authorities through which I also manage their built and natural conservation interests. To further the interests and business development of the Brecks I am currently Vice-Chair of the Brecks RDPE Local Action Group and have delivered a £1.3m European Grant scheme for the local fishing industry.

A farmer’s son in North Yorkshire I studied Agricultural Engineering at Harper Adams University and have worked in South Africa, Canada and as an Expedition Leader across Europe, the Middle East and Asia returning to England in 1989 to work within what is now the Sussex Downs National Park.

I must admit to previously knowing only a few of the NAT sites along the Norfolk Coast but have been amazed by the wealth of heritage that NAT manage across the county. Not only are these sites special for their built heritage spanning the development of local civilisation but also their great natural heritage, with many of them important for the habitats and rare species of plants and animals that they harbour.

Balancing the access for local residents and visitors with the needs of management at these sites is always tricky but by keeping everyone informed of why and when operations are necessary will ensure an enjoyable visitor experience and the well-being of the sites for many years to come. My role is to develop a 5-year Farm Plan which optimises the potential for increasing income and reducing costs while supporting the Trust’s conservation and management aims at its 10 rural sites. I am also responsible for day-to-day management and maintenance of Trust sites, and will contribute to the developing Business Plan as part of the wider organisational review through the Onwards and Upwards project.

I look forward to meeting you out and about on NAT sites across the county.

News in brief

  • Caistor Roman Town Focus Groups

Two focus groups will be held on Friday September 21 as part of the Onwards and Upwards project. The focus groups will involve an informal roundtable discussion chaired by an independent consultant from Architrave (https://architrave.co) and participants will be asked to answer a few questions about themselves and discuss their visits to Caistor Roman Town.

Venue: Stoke Holy Cross Church Hall, Norwich Road, Stoke Holy Cross, NR14 8NX

Times: Afternoon Focus Group 4 – 5.30 pm OR Early Evening Focus Group 6.30 – 8 pm

Representation from our members would be very welcome - please email info@norfarchtrust to register interest or for more information.

  • Heritage Open Days

This year we have events organised at three of our sites. More details on these events can be found at https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/

Burgh Castle Fort

  • Sunday 9 September: 13:30 & 14:30: Delve into the history of this site on one of two guided tours at 13:30 and 14:30. Meet your guide at the interpretation shelter near the main car park.
  • Friday September 14th 11.00-13.00:  The Restoration Trust will be leading a ‘walk with intent’ in the company of members of the Almanac Project. To book your free place email tasha@restorationtrust.org.uk. More information at www.burghcastlealmanac.org

Caistor Roman Town

  • Sunday 16 September: 11:00 - 16:00: Roman-themed Family Fun Day run in partnership with Caistor Roman Project where visitors will be invited to delve deeper into Roman history on a guided tour of the site, listen to a storyteller, have a go at digging like an archaeologist or dress up as a Roman and go to training school. Bring along an old toothbrush and help clean some Roman pottery! Guide tours will run regularly between 11:00 and 16:00. Free event.

St Benet’s Abbey

  • Saturday 15 September: 10.00 & 14.00 Enjoy a guided walk from Ludham Bridge to St Benet's Abbey, led by The Friends of St Benet’s Abbey (TFOSBA). Find out about the medieval life of monks at the abbey & how they changed the Broadland landscape. 4 mile round trip. Walk and tour takes 3 hours approx. Meet in the lay-by next to the public toilets near Ludham Bridge on the A1062.

Other TFOSBA guided tours of the Abbey during HODS-Please meet at the guided tour start point which is the Interpretation panel near the Mill/gatehouse. Tours take 1 hour approx:

  • Saturday 8 September: 1500
  • Sunday 9 September: 1500
  • Saturday 15 September: 1100 & 1500
  • Sunday 16 September: 1500