AN historic ceremony dating back thousands of years marked a milestone for a developer building new homes and workspaces on the site of a 250-year-old tannery.

A tree branch was raised to the roof of a show home during the topping out ceremony at The Tannery in Holt.

The tradition is said to date backto work on the pyramids but became popular in Scandinavia, when builders cleared a space in the forest to build a home and then placed a fir tree on top of the building as an offering to the forest gods to appease them for disturbing their habitat.

The 44-home neighbourhood is being built by Stonewood Partnerships around J&T Beavens’ former warehouses and workshops.

Stonewood Builders are converting the buildings into 100 work units which will be managed by the neighbouring Glove Factory.

The developers hope to open the show home in the spring. Buyers are showing keen interest.

Stonewood Partnerships managing director Sam Smart said: “For us this was a significant moment to get the show home ‘in the dry’, which means getting the roof covering on.

“Now we can push on and get the interiors done in time for the show home being opened in the spring. It was a lovely moment to stop and mark the progress we’ve achieved.”

Work is well under way on the first terraced three-bedroomed houses with the two-bedroomed homesfollowing close behind.

“They are the closest part of the site to the development and there are a lot of terraced cottages nearby so we wanted the new houses to tie back into the look and feel of the village.

"You will feel like you are just driving into another part of the village, not just a development that’s been dropped on to the edge of it,” said construction director Kris Beasley.

With the branch raised to the roof, workers raised a glass to the development and wished the workers luck.

The custom also involved providing drinks or ‘tile beer’ for workers. The practice was brought to Britain after the Vikings invaded and became widespread.

Mr Smart added: “A whole tree was a bit much so we offered a branch instead. It was really good to mark the moment and see the sense of scale and shape of the development. There’s a real sense of excitement now as we can see it coming together.”

The three-bedroom detached show home is due to completed and opened in the spring. A brochure for the development of nine one-bedroomed flats, six two-bedroomed houses, 17 three-bedroomed homes and 11 four-bedroomed homes is alreadyavailable. A number of homes have already been reserved, said Mr Smart.

Stonewood Partnerships is an arm of Stonewood Group, a 48-year-old family firm that has built a reputation for high quality refurbishment of listed homes and has grown to a £48 million turnover business.

It employs more than 260 staff and works with more than 300 sub-contractors.

More details about the site and the brochure are available at