- Joyce Lambert
Lambert grew up at
Brundall, Norfolk, and was educated at Norwich High School for Girlsand the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, graduating in botanyin 1939.
Her first job was as a schoolteacher in
Norwich, then in 1942 she was appointed a botany lecturer at the University of London's Westfield College(now part of Queen Mary, University of London). She began a study of the ecology of the Fensaround the River Yare. In 1948, she moved to the University of Cambridgeand concentrated on the Fens near the River Bure, working with J. N. Jennings.
In 1946, she began to publish academic papers on her work.
In 1952, Jennings's book, "The Origin Of The Broads", was published by the
Royal Geographical Society. In it the stratigrapher concluded that most, if not all, of the Norfolk Broadshad been formed by natural processes. But Jennings's apparently definitive interpretation was about to be spectacularly challenged.
His colleague, botanist and fellow stratigrapher Joyce Lambert, had also been investigating the Bure and Yare valley broads and fens. And she demonstrated that the lakes of the Norfolk Broads were not formed by nature, but had been created by our ancestors.
Using a smaller
peatborer than the one employed by Jennings, Lambert obtained a series of closely spaced cores around the broads, and discovered - to her amazement - that what had been thought to be natural lakes had near-perpendicular walls; moreover, their floors, some three metres or so below the surface, were almost flat. Clearly, they had originated as peat diggings, whose angular shape had been concealed by the overgrowth of vegetation once they had filled up with water.
In 1952, Joyce gave the presidential address at the
Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists' Society, and when editing that speech for publication, she inserted into it her new findings. These, together with a follow-up article in the Geographical Journal, caused a sensation by showing that the current features of the Norfolk Broadswere created by extensive excavations dug by hand long ago; that were now within areas of a flood plainsubject to regular inundation, resulting in the typical Broads landscape of today, with its reed beds, grazing marshes and wet woodland.
* [http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/5-27-2005-70625.asp Obituary] at buzzle.com (accessed 25 July 2007)
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