lowlands revisited - the vernacular of landscape

I have recently been reading Landscapes : Robert Macfarlane.
The book was first brought to my attention by oldest lovely daughter who sent me a link to it in the latest issue of Cam Magazine, but it has also been  featured in a recent radio 4 interview and in the Radio Times.

It is a fascinating look at regional and sometimes forgotten words which were once used to describe particular aspects of the countryside.
In the book, Robert Macfarlane notes that the latest edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary has removed a number of words relating to the environment such as heron, acorn, kingfisher, mistletoe to name but a few, in favour of words like chatroom, cut-and-paste, celebrity. 
Of course, the latter are all useful words but it is a reflection on how much our children's lives are now being lived on a virtual and internal ( both mental and physical ) plane, rather than a childhood connected to the outside which maybe we, or certainly, our parents enjoyed.
An interesting thought, don't you agree!

So here, in homage to Robert Macfarlane's book and the Cam Magazine article, is a list of fen/East Anglian dialect words with more photos taken on our visit to Holme Fen the other week.

donk: adj. wet,moist or damp;generally applied to land or soil.

grimmer: n. large, shallow, weed-infested pond

fizmer: n. rustling noise produced in grass by light winds

lode: n. fen drain

And to finish, maybe one of my favourite words horizontigo: n. A word, which Robert Macfarlane says was coined by a correspondent to describe the malaise induced by sustained exposure to flat terrain; the sudden feeling of fright brought about by contemplation of an intensely lateral terrain.
A word particularly pertinent to someone like me for whom the fens are an adopted, though much - loved homeland, but who sometimes longs for a hill or two!


  1. Apart from lode those are all new words for me. It seems such a shame to lose words from our vocabulary.

  2. It is hard to accept that our language is always changing and is a fluid thing. I still can't get my head around 'text' speak but I am gradually coming to terms with Devonshire terms. Never the less, I refuse to say 'dimpse' instead of twilight. ; ) Lovely photos, fascinating post.

  3. Lovely! I've read various reviews of the book and although I can find Macfarlane hard work really do think I should give it a try. Thanks for the insight.

  4. Wonderful pictures. I almost bought this book the other week. Love discovering new to me words and learned this morning that erinaceous means pertaining to, or resembling, a hedgehog. Also that I'm a mouse potato!

    1. 'Erinaceous' - ooh lovely new word. And mouse potato...? I'm intrigued!

  5. Well as an impermanent resident in Michigan, and as one who spent her teenage years in East Anglia, I love the word horizontigo - never missed the hills back then but I do rather now. Horrified at what has been taken out of the OJD and loathe the word celebrity......

    1. Hello and thank you for your comments. 'Horizontigo' is a very good word!


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