Did the Carlin Pea originate in Norway?

PC123954At the weekend, I packed some seed of Carlin Pea, a very old English pea that I’ve grown here in Malvik since around 1990 when I ordered it from the Heritage Seed Library in the UK. I was googling it and to my great surprise, I discovered that it is both now commercially available in the UK and that there is actually a story about it arriving on a boat from Norway:

«…one tradition has it that when Newcastle was besieged by the Scots (in 1327), the citizens might have starved but for the arrival of a cargo of dried peas from Norway on the Sunday before Palm Sunday, known as Carlin Sunday.”

…and concerning the origin of the name Carlin:

«North East, Lincolnshire, Nottingham
Carling Peas, Black peas (Maple Peas or Pigeon Peas), boiled and then lightly fried in butter or beef fat, well-seasoned. Eaten, or given away, a tradition during Lent, particularily on ‘Carlin (or Carling or Care*) Sunday’, usually noted as the 5th Sunday in Lent known in the Church as ‘Passion Sunday’, but occasionally with the 6th Sunday in Lent, due to regional variations in the Church Calendar. Known by this name at least since Turner’s Herbal of 1562, the word may derive from ‘care’.”
* “Care” is an alternative name for “Passion”.
(Source: http://www.foodsofengland.co.uk/carlinpeasorbrownbadgers.htm and https://www.slowfood.org.uk/ff-producers/nick-saltmarsh-hodmedods-carlin-peas )

There are, however, alternative interpretations of the word Carlin, see http://adambalic.typepad.com/the_art_and_mystery_of_fo/2007/02/left_maple_peas.html

I sent the peas this week after a request from Agneta Magnusson in Sesam (Swedish Seed Savers). Sweden, unlike Norway has a rich diversity of surviving old peas, so I asked if they knew of any old varieties that resembled the Carlin Pea. They answered that, no, they hadn’t seen such a round “marbled” grey pea before!
There’s some justification then in considering the Carlin Pea to also be a Norwegian heirloom!

The flowers are also very attractive:

Carlin seed pods
Dried mixed peas, including Purple Podded and Carlin
Sowing peas for indoor sprouting in my living room: Carlin and another Norwegian heirloom Ringeriksert!



2 thoughts on “Did the Carlin Pea originate in Norway?”

  1. PBS’s New Scandinavian Cooking series did a program called “Fairytale Land about local food in Norway. One of the local foods he prepared was an heirloom pea that looks rather like the peas in your photo of Carlin peas. The question was whether or not Carlin peas originated in Norway.

    1. Thanks for this! I haven’t seen this show, but the guy who was involved, Anders Viestad is well known here and I could try to contact him. However, there are very few old pea varieties that have survived here in Norway and none like the Carlin. There are many more in Sweden and i therefore sent a sample of Calrin to the pea expert there. However, they hadn’t seen such a round marbled variety before. If you can make a screen grab where they show this pea and send me that would be appreciated!

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