Iceni Village - Nature Reserve & Museums


The Iceni Village is a place for all the family. This historical village can be fun and also educational for all ages. It is situated in Norfolk, in a small village of Cockley Cley near Swaffham and is open from April to October (variable), 11am-5:30pm with extended opening 10am-5:30pm during July and August. For more information please telephone the Iceni Village on 01760 724588 or 01760 721339.

The Iceni Village is a reconstruction of the type of village occupied by a British tribe, the Iceni, shortly before the Roman occupation-about 2,000 years ago. The Iceni lived in the northern part of what is now called East Anglia. They probably entered the area some time in the last few centuries before Christ. Their territory came under Roman rule after the invasion of Claudius in 43AD. They staged an unsuccessful rebellion in 60-61AD: after that they have no record of them. Culturally, they belonged to the Iron Age-that is, they could smelt iron and work it into weapons and utensils, often with great skill, but they were illiterate. There is archaeological evidence that around the time of Christ there was a settlement at Cockley Cley.

St. Mary's Church

It is thought that this is one of the oldest churches in the country and that it may originally have been built during the time of the Augustine mission in 628AD.

The church now stands much as it must have done 1300 years ago with the exception of the Roman coffin and the Roman tiles in the western end of the nave. This lead coffin was found on the Estate in 1970 and is dated between 300 and 350AD. The coffin had been put in a mausoleum and the tiles are from this edifice and thus thought to be contemporaneous with the coffin.

17th Century Cottage

The 17th century cottage was built around 1640. The cottage was actually a farmhouse comprising a kitchen, parlour, linhay, sleeping loft, master's chamber and the privy.

Nature Trail

Following the river Gadder from the Iceni village to the lake, the trail through their Nature Reserve is a gentle walk of about two kilometres.

A small bird-watching hide on the side of the lake can used to admire the lakes wildlife and the wildlife surroundings. Access for disabled visitors has been improved by the provision of a dedicated car park near the boardwalk.

During spring and summer months the marshy areas near the stream will offer a welcome splash of colour as flowers like the Marsh Orchid come into bloom and the vivid yellow of the Marsh Marigold will be found right on the water's edge.

The grasslands either side of the nature trail are protected under the Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) scheme. These are the best areas to see the butterflies, including the Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Meadow Brown, Peacock and the beautiful Small Copper. The best time to see butterflies is on a calm, balmy summer afternoon when the air is high in pollen and bees and other insects are also busy collecting nectar.

Common woodland birds are found on the nature trail, such as the tiny Gold Crest, and several of the Tit species. You may even see the much less common Crossbill, the male being reddish in colour, the female green.

A boardwalk crosses a marshy area besides the lake which is a very good spot to see the acrobatic Lapwing which nests on nearby fields. This is also a good place to watch Damsel flies and Dragon flies hawking over the small pools.