On the pattern of the year

Of all the sites the Trust looks after, I think the wildlife is most visible at St Benet’s Abbey.  I was accompanied by a flock of fieldfares on my site visit to the Abbey this month, just as I have been every winter since I took up this role in 2014. They were lovely to see, fluttering from tree to bush as I walked along the path from the car park to the Gatehouse.

Visiting the Trust’s sites regularly as I do, I’m very aware of how each changes with the seasons. It’s my job to ensure that the monuments themselves - the earth banks, flint, brick and stone - change very little from year to year, but the natural cycle of the flora and fauna means that they look and sound different every month.

At the end of October the Broads Landscape Partnership received confirmation of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £2,437,500 for the Water, Mills and Marshes project. The Trust’s ‘Burgh Castle Almanac’ project is one of a package of 38 which will go ahead in 2018, its aim to provide education, skills, health and wellbeing benefits for people in recovery and being supported to live independently. We’ll do this by providing a framework of regular training and creative activities at the site for participants. Our project partner, The Restoration Trust (1), calls this kind of activity ‘culture therapy’. One of the aims will be to produce a photographic record of the Roman Fort site taken from set points every month so that by the end of the year we will have a record of the changes that occur in the yearly cycle - the grasses, flowers, mosses, light and colour that change around the enduring fabric of the fort. The underlying metaphors for resilience and renewal are potentially powerful.

Next week I’ll be joining a group of volunteers from The Friends of St Benet’s Abbey who carry out a wildlife survey there once a month. I hope to see, amongst other things, cranes, golden plover and lapwings, which were recorded at the site this time last year. It’s reassuring to recognise the annual patterns repeating themselves.

(1) The Restoration Trust https://restorationtrust.org.uk/

News in Brief

  • Imagined Land Project at Burnham Norton: The documentary research strand of this project is starting soon – please get in touch if you would like more information on how to get involved. Contact: Simon Floyd, Project Manager Email: imaginedland1@gmail.com Tel: 07896 781574 https://sites.google.com/site/burnhamnortonimaginedland/home
  • Saturday 2 December 2.15pm: ‘ Great Ryburgh: The excavation of rare Anglo-Saxon coffins and a Saxon church’. James Fairclough (MoLAS).  NNAS/ NAHRG joint lecture at Town Close Auditorium, Castle Museum, Norwich. Lectures are free to all members; non-members are most welcome and are asked to leave a small donation.