The Word Garden, received a National Lottery grant of £49,200 for an exciting heritage project in East Cambridgeshire titled: 'The Scottish Soldiers, the Ouse Washes; the Origins of Landscape Change in the Fen' known simply as 'Origins'. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project commenced in Autumn 2018 focusing on exploring a 'missing' history of events, 1650-53; researching the construction of the second parallel drain by Scottish prisoners-of-war, following their capture after the Battle of Dunbar in 1650. These events not only transformed the landscape and surrounding environment they changed traditional Fenland occupations and lifestyles into the future.
Supported through the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) and by Babylon ARTS, the project enabled workshops to be delivered in local schools to explore the history of this period, a community open day was held in Spring 2019, followed by a two-day celebration event at Welney Wetlands Centre in Summer 2019.
The Word Garden worked closely with heritage professionals such as Paolo Forlin, from the Department of Archaeology, Durham University, linking the Origins project with their 'Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project'. This increased awareness into the relationship between people, landscape and their natural environment.
The project created a publication, an exhibition and two films, including a 20 minute film, 'Dunure to Denver Coventina’s Quest into Hidden History' by Jean Rees-Lyons, adapted from the fictionalised story of Coventina who risks all in search of her Scottish soldier. This encouraged the community to learn about the fascinating project findings and this ‘missing’ period of history.
Jean Rees-Lyons, Scriptwriter and Project Coordinator on the Origins project said, "...our National Lottery Heritage Funding has made it possible to reach the key aims of Origins, to discover hidden heritage stories whilst combining findings from archive materials, new research and recording previously unseen records. With the passage of time, social, cultural, political and environmental changes have transformed traditional ways of life, and reshaped, in many ways, the unique Fen landscape".
The new Word Garden full colour publication, known as Origins, is an entirely original body of work showing project activities, people, places and events. Significant new archive material is transcribed from The Adventurer's Minute Books, together with the authenticated fictionalised story of Coventina's search of the Wash-lands. This valuable contribution to local legacy creation documents the journey south by the Scottish Soldiers and how they lived and worked with other prisoners-of-war whilst building the second drain.
Image credit - Helena g Anderson