Fen and Sea

The Landscapes of South-east Lincolnshire AD 500–1700

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Publisher Description

Reknown environmental archaeologist Ian Simmons synthesises detailed research into the landscape history of the coastal area of Lincolnshire between Boston and Skegness and its hinterland of Tofts, Low Grounds and Fen as far as the Wolds. With many excellent illustrations Simmons chronicles the ways in which this low coast, backed by a wet fen, has been managed to display a set of landscapes which have significant differences that contradict the common terminology of uniformity, calling the area 'flat' or everywhere from Cleethorpes to Kings Lynn as 'the fens'.

These usually labelled 'flat' areas of East Lincolnshire between Mablethorpe and Boston are in fact a mosaic of subtly different landscapes. They have become that way largely due to the human influences derived from agriculture and industry. Between the beginning of Norman rule and the advent of pumped drainage, a number of significant changes took place. Foremost was the reclamation of land from the sea, which took place in both medieval times and the early modern decades. Part of the sequence along the coast of The Wash was due to land creation from the wastes of the salt industry. Next in importance was the management of the East Fen, both for its resources (mostly of a biological nature) and to keep it from flooding the surrounding lands and settlements. All these changes required a knowledge of water management that depended upon gravity until the coming of the drainage mill towards 1700.

This area of Lincolnshire has been largely ignored by recent practitioners of historical geography, landscape history and archaeology alike, so one aim has been to accumulate as much data as possible from a variety of sources: documents, digs, aerial imagery, maps and fieldwork dominate. The project has accumulated information from Roman times until the beginnings of fossil-fuel powered drainage. This book would be first on this particular region and the first of its kind in trying to bring together both scientific data and documentary evidence including medieval and early modern documents from the National Archive, Lincolnshire Archives, Bethlem Hospital and Magdalen College Oxford, to explore the little-known archives of regional interest, such as that of the Bethlem Royal Hospital.

January 31
Oxbow Books
Casemate Publishers and Book Distributors, LLC