Early History

After the ice age, the first men to venture into what we now call the fenland would have found an area of very different appearance; dry and wooded. In the following centuries the sea level rose and the area became marshy; trees died and, in the deeper fens, many of their trunks were preserved in the newly formed peat as what we now call 'bog oaks'.

By Roman times the area was somewhat drier; dry enough to be farmed extensively for grain and sheep, and for a more substantial settlement to be built on the lower lying ground at Bullock's Haste. This lay on the Car Dyke, a Roman Canal which ran from Reach in Cambridgeshire up towards Lincolnshire.

Towards the end of the Roman period however, conditions became wetter, and the first Saxon settlements were on the high ground to the south, within the boundary of the present village. Most of the Roman farmland in the north of the parish reverted to marshy fen and would have developed a covering of scrub.

During the Saxon period, much of this low lying land was cleared, although for pasture rather than arable crops. This clearance continued in early medieval times and resulted in the area known as Frith Fen, meaning 'wild fen', becoming known as Smithy Fen. A distinctive system of cultivation began to evolve, distinctive, highly regulated, and entirely different from anything we know today.

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