Springtime at Butser
28 March 2023
It’s all go at the farm as we get ready for the Easter holidays, Beltain, and beyond — with a couple of extra lambs in tow!
In this update… We celebrate the spring equinox, hand-rear some orphan lambs, start work on our new Roman garden, make a mini time capsule, and more!
Overnight at Ostara
We celebrated the spring equinox in style last week, joining forces with woodland bard Jonathon Huet for an evening of meditation, music, and ancient connection.
There’s nothing quite like sleeping in a roundhouse, the fire crackling away beside you, and rising to the sun streaming through wicker walls. To everyone who joined us on this magical overnight event, thank you for helping make it so special!
It’s that time of year when our flock of sheep more than doubles… !
Our lovely sheep are Manx Loaghtan, a rare and ancient breed that nearly went extinct in the ’50s. They’re native to the Isle of Man, and are known as a ‘primitive breed’ — they were never crossbred, and are closely related to ancient breeds of sheep.
We try to do our part to help keep this majestic breed alive — including hand-rearing! This year, two lambs were rejected by their mothers, so the Butser team has adopted them. We think we make pretty good sheep mums!
We’ve hand-reared goat kids before, too — see how we reintroduced them to their mothers.
A formal Roman garden!
It’s our Roman villa’s 20th anniversary this year, and we’re giving it some love to celebrate!
Soon, you’ll be able to step out the doors of our Roman villa into a gorgeous formal garden, planted with historically-accurate plants we know they had in Roman Britain, like honeysuckle, hyacinth, bay, and ivy. Work’s already underway, and going at a blistering pace!
The beams and uprights you can see are to create an open pavillion, which we’ll use as cover for seating as well as to support climbing plants. We’re already planning our first outdoor mosaic for the centerpiece!
Behind the villa, our lesser-known Roman kitchen garden is approaching its 5th anniversary. This lovely area is home to all sorts of herbs and vegetables from the Roman period, and is tirelessly tended to by our green-thumbed garden volunteers.
We’re so excited to expand our Roman gardens out in front of the villa too, and create a relaxing setting for people to sit and admire!
Video by Anthony Russel from the Ancient Wessex Network
A mini time capsule
Things change at Butser so fast — our ancient buildings aren’t permanent structures, and we’re always adding new things to the site. So we like taking snapshots of the site as it is wherever we can, so we can look back in years to come and see how much we’ve grown.
This year, we’re looking back at 2003 when our villa was completed, and 2018 when it was renovated. So here’s a snapshot of each year!
Since 2018, we have:
- Built a second Saxon hall
- Replaced the Llandygai Stone Age house with the current Horton House
- Built a Bronze Age roundhouse!
- Created a metalworking workshop
- Rebuilt one of our Iron Age roundhouses, and replaced another
- Built a ticket office!
Typically, even the video for 2023 will soon be out of date — there’s no formal Roman garden! Here’s to even better things in the years ahead…