What Pegman Saw: Of Mud and Trade

Great Yarmouth, seen from the estuary: 20 July 2018

It formed where the three rivers joined, between the island-guarded northern bank and southern cliffs, at the estuary the Celtic Iceni called “Noisy Mouth” (for the strident gulls that roosted there). The Romans helped.

They built a fort on the northern island, and on the cliffs to the south a receiving station for grain and wine. But more, they turned their ploughs loose on the soil. Disturbed, with every storm, silt filled the rivers. The rivers carried it down to the sea. And where it settled it formed a spit.

Plants moved in. The Romans went home. The Saxons used the grass-grown spit for summer grazing, and later invited the Vikings to trade.

One “Orme of the Orkneys” made of the northern island his second home and founded upon the former sandbank his entrepot. And so Great Yarmouth was born.

In 1086 seventy burgesses traded there.


Wordcount 146

Written for What Pegman Saw: Great Yarmouth, UK

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About crimsonprose

Spinner of Asaric and Mythic tales
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55 Responses to What Pegman Saw: Of Mud and Trade

  1. The picture is great. Sun glistening on the water is so beautiful. And also thanks for sharing the information 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing such an amazing piece!
    It was really interesting! You must have done a lot of research on it!
    Great! 👏👌

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lynn Love says:

    Ah, just love it – the history of Great Yarmouth in 150 words! Does it really mean ‘noisy mouth’? That’s fabulous. love how you’ve managed to create an atmosphere while telling us the tale of your town. Lovely take on the prompt, Crispina

    Liked by 1 person

    • crimsonprose says:

      Academia might translate it otherwise, but in the Celtic tongue, yes it does mean that. The estuary isn’t as noisy as it once was. But even 40 years ago, when the gulls gathered there … it was noisy!
      And it did take some trimming to make it fit. I wanted to put so much more in. But the essentials are there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        I confess, I’ve never visited. I do love the English seaside, though. Strangely just as appealing to me as a proper beach 🙂

        Like

      • crimsonprose says:

        Aye, well we do have a beach. About three miles of soft pale sand. But the estuary lies at the back of the town, all-but land-locked. And even before it started to silt, it wasn’t a match for the Severn Estuary. Although Yarmouth was a more active port than Bristol until that Spaniard bumped into America.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        Ha! Damn that Spaniard 🙂 Funny places, old ports. Bristol would have been noisier, dirtier, probably pretty dodgy place down by the docks, all those sailors coming and going. But there’s something odd and sterile about the repurposed warehouses (much as I’m glad they are used). It doesn’t feel right that the place throngs with tourists when it was built to throng with men rolling sherry barrels and bales of tobacco!

        Liked by 1 person

      • crimsonprose says:

        Oddly, or not, I live in a repurposed warehouse. It was built in 1603, attached to a very ornate merchant’s house. I’m guessing the trade was wool and grain out, and wine in. It’s a sympathetic conversion. And for a history nerd, it’s ideal.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        Oh, wow, that’s amazing! I’d love that! My dad used to live in an old agricultural worker’s cottage in Suffolk – beams inside, original fireplace, thatched roof. Staying there fed my imagination. Our house was only built in 1934 but still, I imagine it newly built, the poor, scared residents watching the bombs fall on Bedminster during the war – and some of them fell very close, so close they must have felt the vibrations here. Love the sound of your house 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • crimsonprose says:

        It was a warehouse, it’s been dry-lined, it hasn’t the wonderful features of the attached house. But it does have mullion leaded windows, and a beam I believe comes from the nearby greyfriars priory which dates it to C13th. And the kitchen (the oldest part) has a wonderful arch which was once a doorway but now houses my sink unit. It’s shows the thickness of walls (about 4ft, and of flint). The living room and bedroom weren’t part of the original building but added on in 1755, so … Georgian windows in those rooms. No fireplaces, cos it never was heated. (Next door’s is ornately carved; it’s a dream).
        The merchant’s house faces the river, but his warehouse was tucked behind it. It’s still frighteningly close if the next North Sea Surge tops the sea defences.

        Like

      • crimsonprose says:

        Oh, and huge swathes of the quay suffered bomb damage WWII, but this place stood.

        Like

  4. Joy Pixley says:

    I hadn’t realized it had such a long and varied history! What an interesting name, “Noisy Mouth”; I hadn’t even noticed the “mouth” in the name of the place until you said that.

    Like

    • crimsonprose says:

      Opinions vary as to the original name. The river isn’t fast-flowing, and had it been in the past it wouldn’t have laid down so much silt. But it does attract birds. Not so many these days. In fact these days it’s sad to see how the numbers have diminished. But between gulls and waders and geese and ducks, especially in spring and autumn when it used to be an important stop-off place for migrating flocks … yea, noisy.

      Liked by 2 people

    • crimsonprose says:

      BTW, the name is usually explained as the Mouth of the River Yare. But the River Yare is a placid, meandering river. Not noisy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joy Pixley says:

        Hmm, that is a little mystery. Reconstructing why places are named the way they were always is a bit of a divining act.

        Liked by 1 person

      • crimsonprose says:

        Yea, agreed. But one morning spent at the estuary when the birds are there, thick on the ground, thick in the air, and you can’t mistake the meaning of the word. But, those who publish their considered opinions tend to sit in their quiet libraries in Oxford and Cambridge.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Dale says:

    Always a delight to read your historical stories, Crispina.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jen Goldie says:

    Stunning photo Crispina! You’ve caught the glistening water, amazing. Is that a castle I see in the distance? You’re a lucky woman and talented to boot! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. k rawson says:

    Such a lovely photo, Chrispina! Enjoyed the writing (as always) and enjoyed your historical detective work in this particular piece.

    Fishermen and farmers have much in common in navigating the economic challenges over the past 40 years. I can relate to much of what you’ve said about Great Yarmouth here where I’m at in the midwestern US, including the part about wind turbines.

    That said, I’m a sucker for prehistory and your story makes me want to order the whole book. Orme of the Orkneys is surely the grandest of characters.

    Thank you for the suggestion. I was not able to spend as much time as I wanted digging into the history, due to some family obligations, but I hope to find time later this week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • crimsonprose says:

      Hey, that would be wonderful. There is so much more here than literally meets the eye.
      The historical research was done several years back. And the *Orme of the Orkneys* comes from DNA studies.

      Like

  8. What an interesting story! Loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for sharing this glimpse into history, tied together or not. Your story went well with the picture you chose. (I’m a bit of a history nerd myself.)

    Liked by 1 person

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