Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Fen Tigers

Perhaps it is only when you have left a place that you realise how special it was. The Fenlands is an area of lowlands with a town called March at its centre. It is vast, from the shores of the Wash roughly between Kings Lynn, Peterborough and Cambridge. 80 miles by 40 miles known generally as the washlands of East Anglia. The two main rivers Nene and Great Ouse either side take the water out to sea. Between the two is the 'Middle Levels'. Manmade drainage systems have dried out the majority of the wetlands which are about 2 meters below sea level. Just like in Holland, a Dutch man helped to design and create the weirs, dams, drains and sluces. The resulting land is rich and fertile.

Before it was drained it consisted of peat bog and marshes with a number of islands of dry land. One of these is Eel Island or Ely with its wonderful Cathedral. The local inhabitants lived lonely natural lives and were known as Fen Tigers because they defended their way of life ferociously. They ate birds, eels and fish and kept warm and dry by burning dried peat. Cromwell was a Fen Tiger and when King Charles I wanted to drain the Fens, Cromwell had his head off!

But the Romans came and the Danes came to invade our land and made us what we are today, Anglo Saxons. Now in modern times it is the Polish who have invaded here. But they come to work for us. Growing vegetables a plenty on the rich fertile land.

1 comment:

leveller said...

Granted O Cromwell mediated between fen users in Ely and the drainage 'adventurers'or speculators (see Antonia Fraser 'Cromwell - Chief of Men') but to claim for that Cromwell removed the Kings head is somewhat specious.
There was a lot else, such as betraying his kingdom!!

aka Rod Read of Ely Cambs