The Terrifying Scarecrows of Britain

One of the most familiar figures of the rural landscape is the scarecrow, and the Brits have mastered them. Designed to scare away pests such as birds, the silent sentinels that dot the British landscape are terrifying enough to scare humans away. Some are so realistic and menacing that they appear to be alive. Historians believe that during the Middle Ages, scarecrows in Britain were actually young boys tasked with scaring away birds from crops, but the Great Plague of 1348 wiped out half of the population and landowners couldn’t find enough young boys to employ to scare away the birds. Instead, they stuffed sacks with straw, carved faces in turnips or gourds, and made scarecrows that stood against poles. Some stand stiff, others are a ripple of movement. Some are rooted in the ground like trees, while others stride across the fields waving flags. One significant aspect of the evolution of scarecrows is the use of plastic containers, along with other modern materials such as masks and coveralls. Good looking scarecrows often get stolen. Britain’s collection of scarecrows is so impressive that each year they hold a scarecrow exhibition. Here are some of the candidates for best scarecrow.