Stinky as well as scary

13 Aug
Wordsworth House garden by Chris Smith

Spot Fletch: Wordsworth House garden by visitor Chris Smith

Amanda’s been telling me so many interesting things over the past few months, I’ve decided it’s time to return the favour. The subject I know more about than anyone else is my fierce cousins – the scarecrows, who have a long and distinguished history.

The first scarecrows were in ancient Egypt, where they were used on the banks of the Nile to protect the wheat fields from marauding flocks of quail. The farmers then herded the birds into nets and took them home for dinner – I think my Georgian predecessors would have approved of that!

The ancient Greeks, Romans and Japanese all had scarecrows at about the same time. The Japanese made theirs out of old rags and meat or fish bones hung from burning bamboo poles – the terrible smell kept birds and animals away from their precious rice crops. They called them kakashis, which means things that stink!

In early medieval Britain, they employed live boys as scarecrows. They patrolled the fields carrying bags of stones to throw at the birds. After the Black Death in the middle of the 14th century, there weren’t enough boys left, so people stuffed sacks of straw and gave them faces carved out of turnips or gourds.

The children who survived the plague had to patrol larger areas, so they carried scarers made out of wood. We’ve got a replica Georgian version in the children’s bedroom – why not come and give it a try!

Meanwhile, see if you can spot me in the lovely picture above, which was taken by a gentleman called Chris Smith, who came to visit recently.

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2 Responses to “Stinky as well as scary”

  1. Penny Cunningham August 16, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    Well Fletch what an interesting piece of information, I did not realise scarecrows had such a long history! But a perchcrow is a level above, don’t you think!!!

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