A brief history of the fen

Quy Fen lies between the Cambridgeshire villages of Horningsea and Stow-Cum-Quy and is open to public access. There are several footpaths, and a track from the layby just to the north of Horningsea. The fen has a number of water-filled pits which were excavated in the 19th century for coprolite, supposedly dinosaur dung, a valuable source of fertiliser at the time.

Today the fen is protected and hosts to a variety of wildlife. Quy Fen Trust is responsible for its upkeep of the fen. A site of special scientific interest (SSSI), the trustees are supported by Natural England.

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Quy Fen spans about 73 acres and is the remains of a much large area of common land between the villages of Horningsea, Stow-Cum-Quy and Fen Ditton. As was the custom since Saxon times where less arable land lay outside villages, it was shared by the villages and used for for cattle grazing, hay cutting, wood cutting and fen digging. The villages were small, the total population being only about 70 when the Domesday Book was compiled in 1086.

A local historian, the late Peggy Watts, has written a comprehensive history of Quy Fen which is now available as a publication. A copy can be obtained by emailing [email protected] and costs £5.00 plus postage. All proceeds go directly to the work of the Quy Fen Trust.

Quy Fen Trust is comprised of a small group of local people, including two representatives from the parish councils of each of the villages of Stow-Cum-Quy, Fen Ditton and Horningsea. They prepare a three year action plan to keep the maintenance of the fen moving forward, which includes pollarding of trees, bramble control, drainage works and similar.
Natural England supply some funding to assist in this work, which is carried out by local people or their appointed contractors.

Natural England citation gives a description and the reasons for citation as an SSSI