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Mike's Blog - Day 208

Peas today.

These are “Carlin Peas” and are grown by the Archaeology Department in research plots in the garden.

Here is the Carlin Pea flower.

The research project is investigating the effect of sheep manure/leaf mould/compost and wood ash on their growth and stable isotope values (nitrogen and carbon). Carlin peas were commonly grown in the Elizabethan period and the findings of these studies will be used to investigate their historical cultivation.

It’s quite a pretty pea and is a traditional drying pea which seems to date way back in history to the English medieval monasteries. These peas are associated with the north, particularly North East England where they were often eaten on Passion Sunday, also known to some as “Carlin Sunday”, the 5th Sunday in Lent.

According to the interpretation Archaeology have on the plots, “legend has it that they saved many Northumbrians from starvation during the Civil war of 1644 when Newcastle was under siege from the Scots. (That’s got to be worse than a lockdown!) Some stories say a French ship managed to dock at Newcastle with a cargo of Maple (Carlin) peas. (We must still have been friendly with the French at that point and not shot them with our Yew longbows, Day 190) Other tales tell of a ship that became stranded at South Shields a few weeks before Easter day and the peas were washed up and salvaged by the locals. The real story is probably lost in time but “Carlin Sunday” became a popular event in the Northern regions of England.”

I remember my dad enjoying them. These brown, hard, round peas were soaked overnight, then fried with butter and salt, pepper and vinegar added. They were quite nice, a bit like brown mushy peas but with a more nutty flavour.