Jonathan & Denise >
This is Mrs Jackson’s nest. A handful of grain has persuaded her to leave her clutch of eggs long enough for us to get a look.
Mr Jackson – who until a few moments before had been standing guard – abandoned his post to us, whilst he raided the henhouse for leftovers under the chickens’ feed troughs.
Mrs Jackson’s five eggs have been laid in a hollow scratched out – by the Welsumer hens – of an ancient bank of stone and earth, about 3ft high and roughly circular in layout.
An archaeological report dated 1999 hypothesized that this a mediaeval ‘stack yard’. Originally the bank would have been a dry-stone wall, perhaps 4ft high, but high enough to keep out sheep and cows. The area within, stripped down to bare rock – any hollows filled with compacted earth and surfaced with beach cobbles, would have been used as a stack yard – for hay ricks and storing sheafs of barley, bere and oats.
Thought to be mediaeval in origin, but fallen into disuse in later centuries due to changes in occupation and agricultural practices, the bank would have partly fallen down, with wind-blown sand overlaying the stack yard and infilling the stone of the walls, the sand slowly turning to soil. It seemed to still have some kind of use in the early to mid 20thC, because the bank has, from time to time, been reinforced with iron goods and parts, from the boats anchor (inverted and stuck into the bank) to parts of old cast iron cooking ranges, and from engine components to a capstan. Some of these items may have been recovered from the SS Politician (which was wrecked a few minutes rowing from here). The hens’ scratchings are forever turning up something of interest from past times!