Inspired after visiting the Iron Age fort at Warham in Norfolk and realising that a remarkable ancient history of the county was hidden in plain sight, Gareth Brookman set out to record a year of exploration. His journey starts on the western fringe of the lands once occupied by the Iceni tribes amongst the Cambridgeshire fens and then follows the old roads into their heartland. The epic story of Boudica is told as the trails lead to isolated camps, buried hoards of gold and Roman town walls. Along the way, Gareth takes the time to stop and look at more recent history from medieval churches to WWII airfields whilst observing the natural world and the passing of the seasons as one can when walking in the company of an excitable terrier.
In Tales From Iceni Territory Gareth tells the story of his travels across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire through the year of 2022 in search of the ancient history of the region. Accompanied by his faithful terrier Boomer, he also takes the time to observe the natural world and the passing of the seasons.
Here’s a short extract:
4 January, Little Abington
It’s cold. Normal service for January has resumed. Puddles iced over, sun shining. I’m thinking about nothing other than why the morning traffic is backed-up along the A1307. When straight ahead, 200 yards away across the main road, I see 14 roe deer grazing quietly in a tight herd.
It’s enough to stop me in my tracks. I can’t remember seeing so many, so close to the village. Although not far from the busy road, they are well placed with miles of sparsely populated rolling South Cambridgeshire countryside to the north and east with just enough in the way of woodland to provide cover.
We, Boom and I, move on, the drivers in their cars with nothing better to do than watch us while they wait. One hundred yards along the road, out of nowhere, a red kite flies over. I double take, because this is normally buzzard territory. Also, in my newly started count, I’ve not yet clocked a thrush, a sparrow or a dunnock, but two kites have now sailed right past me in four days.
If that wasn’t enough, our new friend the kestrel is ‘waiting’ on the telegraph wires as we find our way from the main road round to the quieter west of the village. He, or she, lets us get to within 100 yards before deciding that’s enough and performs a low glide along Bourn Bridge Road to another sunny perch just the field side of the hedge, doubtless cursing that bloody man and his dog who keep appearing on its radar.
From there, the hawk is sufficiently comfortable to let a car pass within ten yards. I reflect that it’s a miracle I ever get close enough to see anything appended to 15 kilos of excitable hound.
Gareth Brookman was born in Northampton before moving to Norwich at the age of seven. After graduating from the University of Aston in Birmingham, he returned to his home city to start a career in advertising, a field he is still active in, running his own marketing communications consultancy. Tales from Iceni Territory is his first book. He now lives in South Cambridgeshire with his wife and two dogs.