March - An Island in the Fens

Photo:Sunset over Floods

Sunset over Floods

© Ian Stacey - Light Angles Photography

Photo:Winter Fenland

Winter Fenland

© Ian Stacey - Light Angles Photography

Photo:Oil Seed Rape Field

Oil Seed Rape Field

© Ian Stacey - Light Angles Photography

How things began

March sits on an island formed 10,000 years ago after the last ice age.  Gradually forests emerged and marsh plants began to grow but the constant argument between the rivers and the tides formed a silt barrier and the rivers found it difficult to take the inland water away and the process of lying down peat began.

As the cold climate became warmer new trees began to crowd out the ancient ones and the stagnant fen and the milder climate encouraged marsh plants to grow and in turn over thousands of years these plants created the peat for which the Fens became renowned.   The ancient trees called Bog Oaks are still ploughed up in the Fens today.

One thousand years ago the Fens were described as having many rich resources and being full of all sorts of crops grown on a soil far superior to any other. Its pleasant fields, vineyards and pastureland were idyllic and the Fens became expert in the breeding of farm animals and beasts of burden.

The rich and famous came here to hunt in the woodland glades, fish in the Meres and wonder at the many varieties of birds. In the winter life in the Fen was harsh.  The land was flooded and often frozen and the dank air caused the ague a kind of rheumatism that caused pain and disability.  In the summer life was little better for the mosquito bred in the Meres and marsh and many fen people became ill and died of malaria.

March is the name for edge or boundary and as March was right at the edge of the Fen that was how it got its name

This page was added on 02/02/2010.

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