Tag Archives: conference


Published by:

butter churner

During the OWLP Conference, Dr Susan Oosthuizen’s talk described the wealth of the region. How local farmers paid taxes helped show what was being grown, farmed, and sold to make a living. It all linked back to the management of the water. As the water is controlled, the meadows are allowed to flood, but only or a short period of time, they are then drained to allow the fresh meadow grasses to grow for the cattle to feed on. This nutrient intense food gave the milk a quality that produced a rich cream and therefore a rich butter. The politics of farming and drainage are complicated, and well explained elsewhere, but I thought this point about high quality milk was important and such a specific link to the area that I wanted to feature it here.

I have made butter before, it’s a fascinating process, simple, but magical if you haven’t done it before! It’s something that anyone can do, and of course children in particular will enjoy it. Though it takes some effort by hand, it is possible and results in a tasty treat.

butter churner

On visiting the Cambridge Folk Museum, I was pleased to find a butter churner on display, and while I don’t have one of those to use, I have made butter with a jar and marbles before, so hopefully, if this is chosen to go forward to the workshop stage, I’ll be able to reproduce a useful skill representing the rich soil of the fens and the management of the water.









Dr Oosthuizen’s talk is now on youtube, do watch, she’s a great speaker. Click here.

OWLP Conference

Published by:

The Ouse Washes Conference was a day of talks taking us through the archaeological history of the area. With expert speakers, who not only knew their subject but were able to convey it to us, a mixed audience of people interested in the area, but not necessarily skilled in subject of archaeology!
I enjoyed the slide shows that went with each talk, they were well chose and helped me understand how archaeology has explained the people and places that have developed in the area.
The drainage was of course important, but the well-known view of Vermuyden draining the Fens to make them useful is not the whole story. The historical use of water, through flooding and natural draining, was well-explained and interesting.

I’ve made many notes, for my own interest and to explain it to my children! But for this project, the most interesting parts were describing how shells were used for jewellery. particularly interesting as the discovery of shell necklaces were used to note that people must have travelled in that period, as shells like that were not found in that area. A mussel shell necklace was found inland, and a cockleshell necklace was found at Thorney, along with a limpet shell which must have come from somewhere like Hunstanton, a good distance away.

There was mention of Beavers trapped for their fur, and large birds being trapped using weaving cones. In the talk on Roman times, the speaker mentioned thatching, flooring, basketry and wickerwork, making use of the local materials.

The last speaker was a storyteller and read from a book called the Fenland Chronicle, by Sybil Marshall, which told the day to day stories of life. I think I need to find a copy of that book, as just what I heard had interesting snippets of information that I’d like to pursue – the food making, also candles.

My notes also have “rush lights” and “milk and cheese”, but I’ll have to wait for the film to come out to make sure I attribute it to the correct speaker!

It was a fantastic day, full of information, I scribbled away trying to note anything of use for this project, as well as general interest as it was just fascinating for me as I have lived here for some years, and grew up not far away, so these areas are very familiar to me and the development of their history is really interesting.