Wicken Fen workshop posts


Podcast: The power of the wild

The power of the wild is an idea that has been an important idea in western thought as a place of refuge or separation where we can feel the power of nature. It is a place where humans are not in control and their power is limited. Using nature as a category of power creates […]


Podcast: Desire for the Wild – Wild Desires? The trouble with rewilding

It is undeniable that human influence is now felt in almost every ecosystem, region and ocean of the world. As a result wilderness or wild nature is becoming less abundant. In response to this less wild world, landscape and ecosystem restorations are undertaken all over the globe. One of these places is the wetland area […]


The Anthropocene: finding ourselves back in the wilderness

Reflections on the workshop on Re-wilding and Wild Desires at Wicken, 18-19 April 2013 By Paul Warde I came to the workshop on Re-wilding and Wild Desires at Wicken with more than a little scepticism. Not about the Wicken Vision, the aspiration to create a fifty-square-kilometre nature reserve to the north of Cambridge and engage […]


Names and Places

By Paul Warde Several of the papers and talk we heard at Wicken Fen were about disappearance and loss: the end of the ‘amphibious culture’ of the wetlands described by Petra van Dam, or the disappearance of the Fens through drainage traced by Ian Rotherham, a loss so complete in the case of the Yorkshire […]


Aesthetics and the Environment

By Paul Warde At the end of the Wicken Fen workshop we came round to discussing a few things that hadn’t got that much of a mention hitherto – beauty, and fun. Ben Cowell had previously mentioned that the National Trust’s mission was to preserve beauty – not nature, nor the environment, nor biodiversity nor […]

Ruminations on the Wicken Fen Workshop

Ruminations on the Wicken Fen Workshop

By Peter Coates Saturday afternoon field trips Workshop organiser Paul Warde and our National Trust partners arranged two outdoor excursions as part of the Wicken Fen meeting: a walk and a bike ride. I was one of those who chose to stroll through the landscape rather whiz across it. Our guide was Carol Laidlaw, who […]


Exploring Environmental History Podcast on Wicken Fen

The Exploring Environmental History podcast has published an episode on the Wicken Fen and the workshop held there in November 2010. The episode is entitled “Reframing a vision of lost fens” and contains an interview with interview Stuart Warrington, Nature Conservation Advisor for the National Trust at Wicken Fen about the history, ecology and management […]

Some reflections on the Wicken Fen workshop

Some reflections on the Wicken Fen workshop

By Jan Oosthoek One of the main aims of the Wicken Fen workshop, and the two that will follow, is to facilitate interactions and exchange of knowledge between environmental historians and those who manage landscapes and nature reserves. With the challenges of environmental change, continuing urbanisation of the landscape, increasing demand for outdoor recreation and […]

Art of the Fen landscape

Art of the Fen landscape

To explore the different meanings of environmental change and landscape transformation the participants of the Wicken Fen workshop included a local artist: Carry Akroyd. She specializes in landscape painting examining the relationship between humans, wildlife and nature. Akroyd’s paintings often provides birds-eye views of the landscape showing transformations of that landscape, and drawing attention to […]


Reframing a vision of lost fens

Wetlands were once common over a large part of eastern England, including Cambridgeshire, East Anglia and Lincolnshire. Of these so-called fens only two percent remains today and most of it is now situated in nature reserves. Ian Rotherham analyses in this talk the attitudes towards the fens over the centuries and the related attitudes that […]


The Amphibious Culture: A case study about wetlands from the Netherlands, with global aspirations

Floods are world wide increasing while adaptation to floods is decreasing. In this video Petra van Dam uses the Netherlands as a case study to show how that culture was until quite recently “amphibious” and adapted to flooding. She will also highlight the fact that a present modern society is not so well adapted to […]


Environmental Stories: A roundtable and discussion

By: Jan Oosthoek Some notes and impressions of the roundtable discussion held at the first workshop of the Histories of Environmental change Research Network, Wicken Fen, Saturday 6 November 2010. Panel: Erin Gill, Ben Cowell, and Bill Adams 1. We are often told that we are living in a time of unprecedented environmental change. If […]


Nature conservation is usually history

What can historians contribute to the management practice of nature reserves and why should they? These were the central questions of Professor Chris Smout’s talk on the third day of the first workshop of the Histories of Environmental Change Research Network held at Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire, 7 November 2010. Chris Smout is one of […]


The environment: an ‘out there’ idea?

How can historians use the term “environment” as an analytical tool? That was one of the questions of the opening paper of the first workshop of the Histories of Environmental Change research network presented by Paul Warde on 5 November 2010 at Cambridge. The paper entitle “The environment: an ‘out there’ idea?” explored the origins […]