Thursday, 03 September 2015

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History exhibition tells story of Cumbria's high fells

A year-long project on the changing landscape of Cumbria’s high fells has come to an end, leaving a legacy of memories with a new exhibition.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust has conducted an oral history project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, exploring how the character of the fells has changed since World War Two.

The trust collected memories from local people. More than 40 people were interviewed and 50 hours of recorded audio material was collected.

A talk given by Sarah Johnson, High Fell Project Officer at Cumbria Wildlife Trust described the project’s discoveries. This talk coincided with the launch of the exhibition, ‘High Fell - the Cumbria Landscape Story’ at the museum.

Ms Johnson described how the landscape of the fells has changed dramatically since World War Two, as a result of modern agricultural practices and changes in land management. The decline of hay meadows, the introduction of new machinery and tractors and subsidies given to farmers to allow them to keep more sheep have all influenced the landscape.

Locals provided the Trust with a variety of photographs and a range of memories of their direct contact with the countryside.

One man related how he used to plough a field, lifting pewit nests and replacing them where he had found them when he had finished.

Ms Johnson stressed the changes to the landscape haven’t been for the worse.

She talked about Carlisle man Geoff Horne’s peregrine falcon discovery which prevented their extinction in the 1960s. Mr Horne, who has been monitoring the birds for more than 40 years discovered toxic farm chemicals were poisoning eggs.

Ms Johnson said: “It really has been a terrific project.”

The exhibition runs for three months.



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