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In 2000 a dog walker in Happisburgh spotted and picked up an interesting piece of flint. The experts at Norwich Museum were consulted and they declared it to be a Palaeolithic handaxe that was dated to 700,000BC.
This important discovery established the area as one of the earliest known areas of human habitation in all of north-western Europe.
The artefact (plus four others from Norfolk) was included in a shortlist compiled by the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Team of the 50 most-important objects that have been found over the last 15 years. Experts from the Council of Archaeology and the British Museum undertook the task of judging the importance of the objects: the Happisburgh handaxe was unanimously declared to be the winner.
The result was announced on Sunday evening at the conclusion of the last of six editions of the TV programme, Britain’s Secret Treasures, by the hosts, the writer and historian Bettany Hughes, and the TV presenter and journalist Michael Buerk.
If you would like to see the handaxe it is on display at Norwich Castle Museum.