The Broads originated in the Middles Ages, during the 9th to 13th centuries, as shallow
pits from which generations of Norfolk people dug peat for heating and cooking purposes.
Roman mercenaries, Saxon settlers and Norman conquerors all took what they needed,
but it was not until the Middles Ages that peat-cutting became organized.
The monks of St. Benet's acquired all the rights as well as the services of the peasants,
to the peat-cutting, consequently the Abbey became very wealthy. The amount of fuel
needed was massive. For example, the monastery of Norwich required 200,000 bales
of peat a year and within two hundred years, nine million cubic feet of peat had
been cut from the area, creating great holes and deep scars.
During the 14th century the sea level rose, the area flooded, and this natural accident
formed the broads as we know them today. This accounts for why the Broads are fairly
shallow as large lakes go, and this adds to the relative safety of these waterways
for boating holiday makers, and why it is possible to moor up in the middle of a
large broad and just drop mud-anchor, something that couldn’t be done for example
in the deep Lochs of Scotland or the Lake District.
Over the centuries dwellers settled in the area, to benefit from the numerous Broads
and their connecting river-ways, providing as they did a convenient and cheap means
of transportation. There was the abundance of fish, within the waters; wild-fowlers,
using specially adapted punts, found plenty to live off. Modern man now harvests
the reed for roof-thatching and enjoys the Broads for recreational, holiday and educational
pursuits.The Broads are many things to many people; for holiday makers and local
people they provide a setting for waterborne rest and recreation which is unique