Working Fen Landscapes

Fen cottage at Wicken Fen © David Gill
Fen cottage at Wicken Fen © David Gill

The National Trust Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve is the home to one of the largest numbers of species and sub-species on any nature reserve in England. The extensive reed beds are home to marsh harriers and dragonflies, there is a dedicated butterfly walk, and kingfishers can be seen on Wicken Lode.

But this was also a working landscape. The reeds and sedge grasses were harvested for thatching and making reed mats, and the waterways provided food in the form of eels. The National Trust has preserved a fen cottage to remind us of what life was like on the fen. There is also a fenman’s workshop giving an idea of the range of activities that would have taken place.

Author: David Gill

David Gill is Honorary Professor in the Centre for Heritage at the University of Kent, and Honorary Research Fellow in the School of History and an Academic Associate in SISJAC at UEA; Professor of Archaeological Heritage.

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