Thetford hosts special ceremony to mark first twinning of sites linked by archeological heritage

English Heritage curator Jan Summerfield and the Deputy Mayor of Nagawa-Machi, Japan, sign an official Japanese friendship agreement
English Heritage curator Jan Summerfield and the Deputy Mayor of Nagawa-Machi, Japan, sign an official Japanese friendship agreement
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A special event – thought to mark a world first – has taken place in Thetford to celebrate the twinning of two exceptional archeological sites at opposite ends of the globe.

The twinning of the Neolithic Flint Mines of Grime’s Graves, in Lynford near Thetford, which is in the care of English Heritage, and the Hoshikuso Obsidian Mines site in Japan is the culmination of a series of innovative educational and cultural exchanges.

Students and academics from Thetford and Japan come together to celebrate the twinning of the English Heritage site Grimes Graves with the Hoshikuso obsidian mine

Students and academics from Thetford and Japan come together to celebrate the twinning of the English Heritage site Grimes Graves with the Hoshikuso obsidian mine

It is thought to be the first time that two locations have been twinned by linking their archaeological heritage, Neolithic flint mining at Grimes Graves and Neolithic obsidian mining at Hoshikuso.

Representatives from both sites signed an official Japanese ‘Friendship Agreement’ during a celebration ceremony at Grime’s Graves on July 14.

Jan Summerfield, curator for English Heritage and Grime’s Graves, the only Neolithic flint mine open to visitors in Britain, said: “We are delighted to be involved in such a unique partnership with the Hoshikuso Obsidian Mines and to be working together to promote the importance and Neolithic heritage of both our sites.

“It was a wonderful occasion and fantastic to see so many people come together to celebrate such an exciting occasion – what we think is the first ever twinning between two archaeological sites. We have already enjoyed some fantastic educational and cultural exchanges between Grimes Graves and Nagawa-Machi and we look forward to working with them even more in the future.”

The signing ceremony was part of a wider three-day event which tied in with the annual Festival of British Archaeology and aimed to engage families and the local community.

An international conference on flint and obsidian took place on July 15 at The Carnegie Room, in Thetford, featuring speakers from the British Museum, the University of Tokyo, Meiji University, Newcastle University and the University of East Anglia.