Vital clues into how ancient Britons lived thousands of years ago have been unearthed on a bypass site. Among the items uncovered along the A142 between Newmarket and Fordham (Cambridgeshire, England) include skeletons from the Bronze Age and Iron Age, along with a body from Roman times... continues...
Flag Fen (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Fieldnotes
Well signposted from the eastern side Peterborough.
It was a long journey but we had finally arrived at our destination – the famous Flag Fen. Probably like many reading this it had been a place I had wanted to visit for a number of years and it did seem slightly surreal to actually be here at last. We parked in the car park and quickly crossed the bridge into the visitor’s centre.
We were met by a very helpful chap at reception who provided up with a map and a quick overview of the site. There is also a small shop and café area.
Despite being a lovely sunny day, I was surprised to find that except for a handful of other people we were the only ones there, so pretty much had the place to ourselves.
We visited the reconstructed Bronze Age / Iron Age round houses, the Soay sheep (plus new born lambs which Sophie in particular liked), museum and of course the famous wooden causeway. I had seen the wooden planks both on TV and in books and I must confess in real life it looks just as confusing – little more than a jumble of wood. It does take a fair degree of the ‘eye of faith’ to see it for what it actually is.
It took us about an hour to go all around the site before we headed back for a cuppa and a sit outside on the veranda. It was a very peaceful place to be although I would imagine (hope) it gets a lot busier in the summer? It only cost £8.00 for a family ticket and was well worth the entrance fee.
I am pleased to report that Flag Fen lived up to my expectations and I guess the only disappointment was not seeing Francis Pryor lurking about amongst the reeds!
Although we did see a heron close up and a fox lurking in the undergrowth.
Flag Fen is well worth the effort of a visit – I am sure you won’t be disappointed.
Follow the directions previously given by Kammer but be aware that the mentioned second information board no longer exists. My advice would be to park on the brow of the hill, just before the road descends down towards the stone bridge crossing the river. There is ample parking.
The stones were not visible from the road due to the trees and undergrowth.
I managed to find a gap in the bushes and pushed my way through onto the cultivated field the other side. It then didn’t take long to spot the stones.
They are in a small fenced off area at the edge of the field, amongst the undergrowth.
Now, I don’t claim to be in any way an expert on ‘old stones’ but I have seen a few over the years. And as Chris points out they certainly don’t appear to be prehistoric. At least if they are they look as though they have been subsequently worked as they are too square to be natural?
Each stone is approximately 2.5ft high x 8 inches across and lean towards the south.
Both stones are covered in green/yellow and white lichen.
These stones are not the easiest to find and given their somewhat dubious ‘history’ it is not a site I would recommend unless you are particularly keen.
It took me ages to find the museum until Karen pointed out that we were parked behind it and had actually walked past the place on the way into the city centre.
I blame the information hoarding which was hiding the stone!
There isn’t a lot you can say about the stone itself.
It is small – approx 1ft high x 2ft across x 2inch wide.
Looks a bit like a small headstone
Had a few strange looks from museum staff out of the window as I was admiring the stone in the middle of their newly mown lawn.
Not much to recommend a visit unless you happened to have parked behind the museum and happen to be walking past the stone…………………..!
Stopped off at Belsar's Hill during the course of a long-delayed visit to the wondrous Stonea Camp... and duly discovered that it was round-about here that the equally wondrous Hereward The Wake gave William the Bastard's lot a bloody nose in 1071. Or rather a damn good soaking... OK, only 'yesterday' in terms of TMA, I know, but of fundamental importance in proving The Bastard wasn't exactly 'the people's choice' as he liked to pretend. Belsar's Hill lies due east(ish) of the Cambridgeshire village of Willingham - appropriately enough within Willingham Fen - and is reached by a rather unusual, single track 'causeway' road. A causeway across what is now dry ground. At least today. Parking is available at the gated entrance to a public access green track - the fabled Aldreth Causeway leading to The Isle of Ely, once a virtually impregnable fenland redoubt. Yeah, Hereward knew his stuff. How William must have cursed. An information noticeboard relates the history... and duly throws a great big oily spanner in the works by stating that the enclosure bisected by the track is private, out of bounds. You what? Why?
However, despite copious barbed-wire, there are (currently) gaps.... and somehow I, er, inadvertently take the wrong turn, finding myself upon the circular bank of this.... well.... guess it depends on your point of view? Although nowhere near the 4m quoted from other sources, the defences are relatively upstanding - quite substantial, in fact - the morning mist - fog even - evoking an ethereal vibe. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the site is the sheer circumference... in my experience much too large to be of Norman origin, looking very much a typical Iron Age enclosure. But what better place for a Norman army besieging Ely to make its base camp, its home.... following some necessary improvements? Yeah, on balance I'm happy to go with the 'Iron Age adapted by Norman' hypothesis. It's not exactly unknown, is it?
The sun gets to work upon the mist mantle and, suddenly, I'm basking beneath a pristine blue sky. In late March? Whatever next? The enclosure actually continues to the east of the green track, again out of bounds to the general public. However once again gaps in the fence afford access. The bank here is much more denuded - shame on them - but nevertheless remains, a couple of horses looking on in that trademark combination of curiosity/fear so typical of those wonderful creatures.
I'm also far from happy with access to this legendary, lost site. The Normans got a severe kicking from the local resistance and.... I'd never heard of it. Strange that. One can only assume the ghosts of the original builders - assuming they were Iron Age - placed 'the mockers' upon the sour-faced barbarians for violating their former home. Right on!