A historic market town in rural Norfolk, Thetford was once the capital of the Iceni tribe of East Anglia. It is possible that Queen Boudicca (Boadicea) had her residence here. Thetford was one of the largest and most influential towns in early medieval England, and at one time boasted 20 churches.

Within the town is Castle Hill, the tallest medieval earthwork in England, though the Norman castle that once surmounted the mound has disappeared. Five miles from Thetford is Grimes Graves, a Neolithic flint mine dating to 2500 BCE.

Thetford has had a turbulent past; the Danish leader Sein Forkbeard sacked and burned the town in 1004. In the 12th century, a Cluniac priory was later established in Thetford. Though the priory was disbanded during Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries, the remains of the monastic buildings are still an impressive sight. During the Saxon era, Thetford had its own mint and was the centre of a bishopric.

The Thetford Treasure

A resident of Thetford was using a metal detector on Gallows Hill in 1979 when he made a remarkable discovery; a horde of coins, jewels, ornaments, and silver spoons known as the Thetford Treasure. The treasure trove is now on exhibit at the British Museum in London, but details of the trove and its discovery are displayed at the Ancient House Museum in Thetford. The museum is housed in a 15th-century building, now restored.

Fans of the television series Dad's Army will recognize Thetford, as the series was filmed here. A special Dad's Army trail has been set up around Thetford to allow visitors to walk in the footsteps of the characters.

A real-life character associated with Thetford is Thomas Paine, the 18th-century writer whose ideas about democracy played a great role in the American and French Revolutions. Paine was a native of Thetford and worked here as an excise man before emigrating to America. A statue of Paine stands on White Street.

The Icknield Way long distance path passes near Thetford, joining Wessex to the Norfolk coast.