We have developed a set of 205 symbols, taken directly from entries made to A People’s Encyclopedia for the East of England. The first 100 of these symbols have evolved from the research work undertaken by the Core Creative Team behind OLP across the past two-years. The remainder have evolved from the public entries made to the Encyclopedia.

Each of the 205 symbols has been made into a 2D illustration by Joe Naylor, a non-professional artist based in Norfolk. These designs have been used in a variety of ways across OLP, including being printed onto flags, and made into silver charms.

6 of these symbols already feature on this website – here’s a little more about each.

Black Shuck

The Black Shuck is a region-wide myth of a deadly devil’s dog. Large and black, with bright red saucer sized eyes, the Shuck is a mysterious creature that has terrorised people in East Anglia for more than a 1000 years. Black Shuck is considered an ill omen for all those who see the beast, with death no more than 12 months away.


And a dreadful thing from the cliff did spring,

And its wild bark thrill’d around,

His eyes had the glow of the fires below,

Twas the form of the Spectre Hound

(Traditional East Anglian saying)



Herring has formed part of the human staple diet since at least 3000BC. It is an oily fish, high in nutrients and rich in flavour. The East coast of England has a vast herring trade history, having been a major processor of the fish for many centuries. In recent times this trade has all but disappeared, leaving in its wake a wealth of regional stories, songs and anecdotes.

Of all the fish that’s in the sea

The herring’s the king of the fish for me

On a reeling Yarmouth tow boat home

A reeling Yarmouth tow


Now what’ll we do with the herrings heads?

Turn them into loafs o’ bread!

Herring’s heads – loafs o’ bread

Herring’s eyes – pudding n’ pies

Herring’s fins – needles n’ pins

Herring’s tail – yards of ale

Herring’s back – fishing smack

Herring’s belly – jam n’ jelly

Herring’s scales – buckets and pails

And all – such – things!


(Traditional song)


Here is an easy way to find out which direction is east. You will need the cork from a bottle of wine, a sharp knife, a magnet, a sewing needle and a glass of water.

Using the knife carefully cut a slice — about the thickness of a pound coin—from the fattest end of the cork. Now take the magnet and rub it back and forth along the length of the needle about 15 times. Gently push the needle through the flat rim of the cork, so that it sticks all the way through the slice from one side of the circle to the other. Place the glass of water somewhere flat, and gently float your cork and needle compass on the surface of the water. The needle will gently turn until it is pointing north, because this is the nearest magnetic pole to the East of England.

Once you know where Magnetic North is, you can easily work out which direction is east. Using your compass as a reference, position yourself so that you’re facing north. Gently clench your right hand into a fist, but with your first finger sticking out. Raise your arm to the side of you, so that it is at a right angle to your body and your hand is level with your shoulder. Look – you’re pointing east!

Severed Hand

Captain Philip Thicknesse was the Governor of Landguard Fort in Suffolk, from 1753 to 1766. Some years later Gentlemen’s Magazine wrote of him:


‘In point of person he was extremely handsome; his conversation was entertaining, his talents undisputed, his manners elegant and fascinating; he excelled in all the accomplishments of the day.’


In actual fact however Thicknesse was a very disliked man, considered a bully by many who knew him, as well as argumentative and very unpopular. When Thicknesse died in 1792, these accusations seemed validated: as a parting shot his will stated:

‘I leave my right hand, to be cut off after my death, to my son, Lord Audley, and I desire it may be sent to him in hopes that such a sight may remind him of his duty to God, after having for so long abandoned the duty he owed his father who once affectionately loved him.’


Bee Orchid

Also known as the Bumble Bee Orchid, this small pretty plant mimics a Bee visiting a pink flower. In fact, the Bee Orchid flowers look and smell so much like a female Bee that male Bumble Bees flying nearby are irresistibly drawn to its chemical signal. The insect gets so excited that he starts to mate with the plant – its firmness, smoothness and velvety haired lip just further incentive to enter the flower. Once inside pollen sticks to his head and abdomen, so that when visiting another orchid of the same species he covers its sticky stigma in pollinia.

The Bee Orchid is the county flower of Bedfordshire.



Keys have been central to notions of security for many cultures around the world since ancient times. They offer up protection by enabling us to safeguard possessions and space. Keys allow us to pass freely through —or control—thresholds.

There are currently 13 active Public Sector prisons and Young Offenders Institutions in the East of England. These buildings — all managed by Her Majesty’s Prison Service — have a combined capacity to house almost 9000 inmates under lock and key.