Thursday, September 30, 2004


Hi-tech bid to find ancient treasures


28 September 2004 07:06

There is something missing from the ornate church in one of Norfolk's most picture-perfect villages.

Twelve stone apostles and one stone Jesus Christ were stripped from it during Henry VIII's Reformation, so folklore goes, before being thrown into the nearby harbour in a bout of religious fervour.

Now the residents of Cley, in North Norfolk, want them back. But instead of relying on divine inspiration, the very traditional village is turning towards rather hi-tech methods to sniff them out.Yesterday, as Channel 4 filmed scenes for a film on one side of St Margaret's Church, renowned sculptor Colin Miller outlined how villagers plan to rescue the statues from the deep.

It will be a two-pronged attack, with a Norfolk-wide appeal for any archivists who have information on their whereabouts to come forward, and a top-rated geophysicist making use of his hi-tech equipment.

"There have been rumours all over the village since I moved here 17 years ago that the statues were hurled into the harbour, either during the Reformation, or during Oliver Cromwell's regime; rumours that are passed on generation to generation," he said.

"It is thought that the statues ended up in Cley Harbour, which has long since silted over and is now a field next to the church.

"This is something I have wanted to investigate for more than six months, and now time has come to do so. It would be lovely to see these statues back on their plinths, where they belong.

"Mr Miller, who lives and works in Cley Road in the village is most famous in Norfolk for a 3m bronze mother and child, which stands outside Norwich Union's headquarters on Surrey Street, Norwich.

He sits on the parochial church council, which has enlisted the services of St Andrews University geophysicist Dr Richard Bates, an expert in marine archaeology and a friend of one of the committee. He has promised to bring down his equipment and join in the search.

"He is very happy to come down to help with a geophysical search," said Mr Miller. "And if something shows up on his survey we will be delighted.

"But before he comes down we'll explore all the possibilities through historical documents, and we appeal for anyone who may know something of relevance to please come forward.

"After that the next thing is to ask the University of East Anglia to dig a trench where something has shown up, if anything does, in order for us to rescue it. But that's a little way off yet."

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