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Casting for scarecrows in Broadbridge Heath

A cast of scarecrows will be bidding for Oscars when Broadbridge Heath stages its showcase of the bird frighteners.

Residents have been challenged to make their scarecrows on the theme of film or television characters when they show off their creations outside their homes or other venues in the village.

Entries closed for the competition last weekend, and on September 26 and 27 the scarecrows will feature in a trail in the village that residents and visitors can walk around and enjoy.

Scarecrows were first used about 3,000 years ago, and some of the first were net-covered wooden frames that caught quail that devoured wheat fields by the Nile river.The captured quails were eaten.

Living scarecrows were used in medieval times in Britain when young boys threw stones or waved their arms. When the Great Plaque of the 1300s wiped out many of the young “bird scarers” landowners created scarecrows by stuffing sacks with straw and carving faces from turnips.

Human bird scarers worked in British fields until the early 1800s when children found better paid jobs.

Scarecrows have been used all over the world. Greek farmers of long ago carved wooden scarecrows to look like Priapus, the son of the god Dionysus and the goddess Aphrodite.  The Romans copied them and during their conquests brought them to England.

The first Japanese scarecrows were old rags, meat or fish hung from bamboo poles that were set on fire, the smell deterring birds and animals.

In Italy skulls of animals were placed on the tops of tall poles in the fields. German farmers made wooden witches and put them in their fields.

The scarecrow was made famous by the actor Jon Pertwee, who portrayed the well-loved Worzel Gummidge in the popular 1979-81 television series.

Pictured is Macy Ryan, 10, a Warnham Primary School pupil from Broadbridge Heath, with a scarecrow on the theme of Yoda, the Jedi Master in the worldwide popular Star Wars.

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