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Durham University

Margins of the East Fen: Historic Landscape Evolution

Section 4 - Sources

In many ways, the landscape is an integration of many of the influences upon it, past and present. No one technique or source of data is likely to be enough to explain its uniqueness. It follows that a successful landscape history is likely to incorporate a variety of sources of evidence. Not all of them will be available for all sites or areas for all times, needless to say, and so extrapolation, analogy and plain guesswork are all called up from time to time. What is essential about both the solid and the more speculative sources is that they are identified so that the reader can begin to judge the reliability of the story that is being told. That means a high density of citations to archival material, photographs, maps and fieldwork as well as conventional printed material, and this has been done by means of conventional endnotes. These notes also contain parallel matter which may be relevant but is not deemed to be central; in webcoding footnotes will not automatically renumber like a wordprocessing document so lavish alterations are not feasible..There are limits to illustrations, of course: it might be good to reproduce small but different sections of an aerial photograph over and over again but copyright fees will not stretch to that.

One archival resource is used many times: the Provisional Edition of the Ordnance Survey's 1;25,000 maps.1 The 'old two-and-a-half inch' map has several virtues for the current purpose: it contains a great deal of nineteenth century information (much detail from the nineteenth and early twentieth century six-inch maps was transferred) and also precedes most of the agricultural intensification of the 1970s onwards that radically changed field boundary patterns among many other landscape components; it differentiates between wet and dry field boundaries, which is often useful in a region where a difference in altitude of 2m can be quite significant in many ways; it scans well into digital form and can be manipulated to show small areas or to form a monochrome base-map for other distributions. And, the O.S. agrees, it is out of copyright and so can be freely used. In the present work, all the sheets used are from the 100km square TF, bounded in the northwest by TF37NW and on the far east by TF56SE (at Skegness), with TF44NE at Leverton including the shore of part of the Wash. More will be said about maps below, in the context of discussing the virtues and failings of the coverage available for this region.

Printed Sources: Books

No region is nowadays without its historical investigators, at all levels from narrowly-focussed family historians who generate collateral information, to professional historians and archaeologists who often have a very specific regional or chronological focus. To those with a specifically historiographical purpose must be added physical geographers and palaeoecologists who contribute to background data or who propose that some biophysical phenomena have been created or modified by human activity. No journal or monograph series is devoted simply to the Wainfleet area and so material in regional series will be cited in an appropriate place. Table A summarises the twentieth century journals, books and monograph series which are Lincolnshire - oriented and therefore likely to contain material on areas of current interest but which also cover a much wider spatial area. They are supplemented by some specialist volumes which again are cited when referred to.

Though Lincolnshire, not excepting Lindsey, has attracted attention from a variety of writers with a historical bent, the corner containing the East Fen and the lower Lymn has not featured in any exclusive sense. In most of the standard sources above, Wainfleet is mentioned as having been a medieval port and having gained a royal charter in the fifteenth century; before and after that time there is a high degree of invisibility except for the work of Arthur Owen in printing some medieval documents of high relevance and in starting the examination of the role of the 'island' of Sailholme in the coeval salt industry.2 Two residents of the town have published booklets which gave overall histories3 and were especially concerned to locate the actual harbour, a quest which has indeed not gone away. Travellers like Camden4 (1551 - 1623), Defoe5 (1659 x 1661 - 1731) and the antiquarian Stukeley6 (1687 - 1765) all made visits and gave brief descriptions of Wainfleet and its immediate surrounds but on the whole hurried on to Boston or Lincoln. Sir William Dugdale's (1605 - 1686) monumental Embanking and Draining7 has several references but they are part of a list of medieval and early modern documents that he chronicles, though he does not reproduce all the document in most cases. Nineteenth century historians concerned with the county like Marrat8 (1772-1852) or with Boston and Skirbeck wapentake like Pishey Thompson9 (1785 - 1862) may mention the lower Lymn area but pay no special attention to it; the same is true of Wheeler's Fens of South Lincolnshire.10 The exception from this era is Edmund Oldfield's Topographical and Historical Account of Wainfleet and the Wapentake of Candleshoe ... of 1829, though this goes onto the rest of the wapentake disappointingly soon.11 But in the printed books, monographs and papers of the nineteenth century there is emphasis on the final draining of the East Fen (Padley12 in 1882, for instance) and then on the rise of Skegness as a holiday resort, made possible by the railway. So while none of these accounts is to be ignored, each of them is likely to yield information that has to be plucked from a matrix of otherwise irrelevant material, sometimes simply copied from an older source: Oldfield for example reproduces large chunks of Dugdale and nearly everybody quotes Defoe on the submersion of Skegness castle but without adducing any extra evidence, of which there is a little.

Many ideas start from the the Wash coastline for 1300 suggested by H.E. Hallam, whose monograph and book on medieval reclamation of salt-marsh and fen in Holland Riding is the benchmark for later studies: we need to keep asking, 'is this an advance on Hallam?' Regrettably, Hallam's work13 drops its intensity north of Wrangle (this was clearly his intention so no fault is incurred) so that his remarks on e.g., Friskney and Wainfleet refer to fewer documents than for parishes in Skirbeck and Elloe. But without his work then any research in this area would start from a sand-bar with uncertain relations to high tides rather than from the crest of a sea-bank. If Hallam's book is included in highlights of the printed sources, then Lane's Northern Fen-edge, from the Fenland Project also sets a standard.14 It stops at the Holland / Lindsey boundary and is largely concerned with prehistory (though not ignoring medieval developments) but in its combination of the archaeological, historical and landscape evidence shows the kinds of results that can be achieved. The Survey had the great advantage of being able to call up a labour force for field-walking, which the present work has lacked, and this often gives its distribution maps an authority which counteracts the view of the Sites and Monuments Record15 as being skewed towards middle-class houses with gardens. So parts of Lane's monograph will be looked up to in what follows.

A final mention must be of the regional overview at county scale given by the 1993 Historical Atlas of Lincolnshire,16 of which perhaps one-third relates to the period of the present work. In this the Wainfleet area is given equal treatment with everywhere else and so can be seen in context, which is especially useful when it comes to summing up the medieval and early modern history. Perhaps the only complaint that can be levelled is that its treatment of reclamation is cartographically crowded and hence insufficiently differentiated for the coast of the Wash as well as ignoring reclamations of the Fen before the nineteenth century. But again, we must keep asking whether we are adding to that level of data accumulation and understanding.

Printed Sources: Papers and Research Agendas

Given the patchy nature of attention to the archaeology and history of this area, a very useful context is given by the archaeological strategy documents hosted in the University of Leicester Archaeology Department's website (see Table A) with the three periods Anglo-Saxon, Medieval and Post Medieval being of most value. They concentrate on physical evidence (though are often rather thin on environmental work) rather than documentation but give a helpful steer as to what is known and where resources for investigation might be targeted. Summaries of the then current state of knowledge in archaeology are integral to the work. A highly inclusive paper on land-taking around the North Sea, which combines approaches from the physical sciences with historical data sets a tone for the kind of work that can be done.17

One field needing proper completion is that of place-names. The work of the late K. Cameron resulted in a general survey of parish-level names for the county18 and a number of wapentake-scale volumes which unfortunately do not include the present area of study. There are more detailed investigations of Scandinavian personal and settlement names in the whole East Midlands-Yorkshire region,19 whose local application is of interest for that period and special attention has been paid to the OE element fleot which is of course of interest in Wainfleet.20 The naming of sea-banks in Lindsey marsh has also been examined, as has the place-name Tric which occurs in DB (f. 363c) and nowhere else21 but is probably located between Wainfleet and Skegness. (Somewhere in the vicinity of the Wainfleet-Skegness sea-bank a Stamford Ware pot with a coin hoard was found; the coins dated to the late twelfth century / early thirteenth century.22)

There are a few modern works which are germane at the local scale. A. Owen's work on Sailholme has already been mentioned, but other papers of his, notably on the diversion of the Lymn in the twelfth century and the relation between salt-making and sea-banks as well as the construction and upkeep of the sea-banks are essential elements of landscape history accounts.23 His edited collection of documents from the Lindsey Marsh24 includes some Wainfleet material as well as villages to the north and is the most directly useful volume of the Lincoln Record Society's series. There is however no specific study of the medieval sea-walls along the coast between Skegness and Wrangle. The medieval salt industry of Lincolnshire gets most attention to the north of Wainfleet, in the Marshchapel area and to the south at Wrangle but there are some general accounts which deal with the industry in the whole region25 as well as an excavation at Wainfleet St Mary and a detailed church Account from the same parish. The excavation is one of the largest of a medieval salt-works in Lincolnshire and took in the area of waste mounds near the A52 which are now preserved (TF 495 563) but which were more extensive, as can be seen on some air photographs. Further data are recorded in the SMR.26 The Rectory Account for Wainfleet St Mary of 1475 - 6 records eight salterns, of which the tithe went to Stixwold Priory.27 Salt may also have been the real reason behind the curious 'sepulchre' features (but with no burial) destroyed by the building of the railway at Wainfleet.28 The question of how far the Tofts were enhanced altitudinally by salt waste and the likely sources of peat fuel emerge from Waller et al's work on environmental evolution, though not the volume's primary concern.29 The whole questions of salt and wool exports must be tied up with Wainfleet's appearance in rankings of medieval English towns.30

The outcome of any survey of this type of material in the region is that it will deal with regional matters largely at a regional scale and the Wainfleet area will be included but not on the basis of very speciific information. There is no comprehensive review of local history and archaeology that uses all modern techniques and sources and even if there were then the local investigations database, as it were, is neither diverse nor rich, compared with e.g., Horncastle or Boston.

Consultable and Online Databases

The most important in this category is the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) kept by the County Council and known formally as the Historic Environments Record. An abbreviated version of the Council's own description says that The Historic Environment Record or HER is a record of all known archaeology in the County of Lincolnshire.31 The record is also sometimes called the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR). It records the archaeology from the earliest Stone Age (the Palaeolithic, from about 500000 years ago) to almost the present day. The HER records information on archaeological sites and standing buildings in Lincolnshire, from Lincoln Cathedral and World War II airfields to finds of single Roman coins. The HER also holds details of Scheduled Monuments and Listed Buildings. The HER has a computerised database, which comprises nearly twenty-five thousand records, and acts as an index to the rest of the HER. The HER has a large library of local books and journals, thousands of aerial photographs, hundreds of archaeological reports, photographs, maps and overlays. Everything held in the HER is available to visitors to help them with their research. Users include members of the public who are interested in where they live or want to expand their knowledge of Lincolnshire. Students and academic researchers make extensive use of the HER. Also professional archaeologists, developers and local authority planners, such as development control officers find the service invaluable. This collection is thus an invaluable source of information, with the records for individual parishes being an excellent starting-point. It is all accessible in person and booking is essential as space is very limited for visitors; the main entries for each parish are available online at Heritage Gateway; NE Lincs and North Lincolnshire are separate. It is not easy to discover details about updating.

This next section outlines some of main on-line sources of information available to the researcher. Needless to say, none of them is devoted to Wainfleet itself, but entering that term into the search box on them should yield some information of interest. They accumulate data, so that a check needs always to be made on the latest updating, with suspicion levelled at any that are not so treated.

One of the nearest on-line databases to the SMR is run commercially by Archaeology UK: 'the fully-searchable database of the positions of nearly 110,000 UK Archaeological sites. Most of the sites in the database are linked to an aerial photograph of the site plus a local road map and many are also linked to Victorian Ordnance Survey maps.'32 The sites are searchable by place-name or by Grid Reference. A free search of sites within a 5km radius of 'Wainfleet All Saints' (at TF 49 59) gives 1 'ancient', 1 'general', 2 bronze age, 27 medieval and 36 Roman find-spots and other features but the information on Grid Reference, Source, Distance from search centre, and links to map, old map and aerial photo are only available on subscription.33 Updating is virtually continuous. As with the SMR, the chances of any distribution maps of e.g., medieval pottery finds reflecting their real dispersion are not very good. This type of database is reflected in the Portable Antiquities Scheme which is maintained by the British Museum and logs finds by the public, including metal detectorists.34 Again, distribution maps are likely to have strong biases but as work on 'productive sites' (i.e., those with heavy yields to metal detectorists) has revealed, interpretable results are sometimes possible35

A combination of some of these elements with older archaeological data is kept on-line by English Heritage as PastScape, which contains 'nearly 400,000 records [with] information on archaeological. architectural and maritime sites ... links to maps, aerial photographs and other websites ...'36 A search of 'Wainfleet St Mary' yielded 31records, including the saltworks mounds near the A52 but also WWII installations at Gibraltar Point. Greater detail is also available from the NMR (as ADS ArchSearch)37 in the form of excavation reports and monitoring of developments including Grey Literature; a 'Wainfleet' search gave 88 results, for example of the type:

Accession no: 66.99. Single trench excavated in advance of proposed development, revealing the remains of a well-preserved salt filtration unit which appears to have gone out of use in the 16th century. Report No R1123 in SMR.

The great virtue of this collection is its attempt to be comprehensive, so that e.g., the local churches are included as well remains of features like the medieval crosses. EH is constantly moving towards bigger and better on-line databases and so their offerings need to be checked at regular intervals. Most sites will map their results.

Material remains are very well served by online databases but documentary sources are harder to digitise to the same level of accessibility. The services offered by the National Archives at Kew are excellent and many Wainfleet documents can be sent either in digital form or as photocopies, though not usually for free.38 The same is true of the British Library.39 This latter archive however does not participate in the national round-up of archival material called A2A or Access to Archives,40 which gives a summary of the contents of most documents in the NAO as well as county record offices and the like, in the forms:

Court of Chancery: Six Clerks Office: Early Proceedings, Richard II to Philip and Mary C 1/9/238

Thomas Waldby, of Southcliff. v. John Wyles and John Goderykson, of Wainfleet, John Hopkynson, of Croft, and Thomas Waldby, of Waldby.: Lands in Croft and Wainfleet.: Lincoln. . Chancery pleadings addressed to John [Stafford], Bishop of Bath and Wells,

Date range: 1432 - 1443.

Source: The Catalogue of The National Archives

FILE [no title] - ref. Holywell 51/28 - date: 3 June 1602

[from Scope and Content] Covenant for making a drain on the marshes formerly belonging to H. Upton in Thorpe and Wainfleet. Valentine Brown to Richard Ironside.

Contact: Lincolnshire Archives

In general, these sources point to useful documents to call up either in person at the archive or a copy; rarely is there enough of the contents on-line for the material to be used directly. Searching by place-name must sometimes take into account variant spellings: the modern form may not always yield all the occurrences.

Other on-line digital sources include general portals which include a variety of material, such as Briitish History Online41 or more specialised search-and-translate projects such as the Henry III Fine Rolls Project at King's College London.42 The EPNS is making available its brief exegeses of place-names via the University of Nottingham.43 A further on-line source of information is that of maps. The excellent Digimap archive at the University of Edinburgh has the present-day OS maps at most scales and also the earliest six-inch and 25 inch coverage.44 However, access is generally via an educational institution. The six-inch maps of the nineteenth century are available from a variety of commercial sources, of which Old-Maps is probably the oldest established.45 Landmark Information Group have been very generous in allowing the use of nineteenth century OS maps in the present work.The 'Historical Mapping' section of A Vision of Britain46 will bring up small sections of the earliest nineteenth century one-inch maps, though it is probably easier to buy paper versions such as the reprints produced by Cassini Publishing,47 which not only have modern sheet lines but are projected onto the national grid.

General sources for historical information which get updated from time to time are found in Google Books, which has digitized several of the nineteenth century books on Lincolnshire including Pishey Thompson on Boston and Oldfield on Wainfleet, as well as some county histories and some volumes of the LRS series.48 The .pdf downloads however are not searchable and some of the books have only title pages and contents available rather than full text. The Intuit arts and humanities portal49 has many categories and is constantly changed; Professor Martha Carlin's Home Page50 is a treasure of links to medieval materials and the Royal Historical Society has highly inclusive county bibliographies.51 In addition to print materials, the COPAC site52 catalogues maps and an idiosyncratic collection of weather records from 4000 BC - AD

2010 can be searched for events and trends.53

Even without access to on-line journals via subscribers, there is a variety of useful material available which is worth searching for local material from time to time. Indeed, the problem with web sources are two-fold: those updated frequently and so are time-consuming and those never updated and so time-wasting.

Documents in Archives

The use of original documents is fundamental to this kind of study, especially where no regionally-focused investigation has yet taken place. For the area identified earlier, the major sources of such material are given below along with the approximate number of useful documents from each source:

The National Archives (Kew) 158
Lincolnshire Archives 124
Bethlem Archive 150 (incl some 19th C. data)
Magdalen College Oxford 78
British Library 13

These and other documentary materials (from e.g., Cambridge University Library, Lincoln Wills and a number of printed books containing transcribed records) were collected in a database, using EndNote and at February 2014 there were 729 entries. Some of the records could be confidently assigned a date within a given century from the twelfth to the eighteenth and the distribution of them was:

Twelfth Century 48
Thirteenth Century 46
Fourteenth Century 114
Fifteenth Century 106
Sixteenth Century 105
Seventeenth Century 45
Eighteenth Century 20

This is a very approximate indication, since it uses the date of the document, which may for example be a copy of an older charter, or part of a collection of charters. There is, too, double-counting where a document spans centuries.

The approach to documentary material was variable but the following were all used:

  • Inspection on-site. This was carried out for the majority of the TNA and LAO materials by Parick Mussett, and for the Magdalen College archive by Patrick Mussett and Meryl Foster. The Bethlem archive is critical since it contains a great deal of mostly Wainfleet St Mary material from the Barkham estate, gifted to the Bethlem Hospital in the eighteenth century; it has been searched with diligence by Patrick Mussett and Meryl Foster.
  • Acquisition of paper copies. Used for some documents from TNA and CUL and for some archives with only a single item of interest. Notebooks belonging to Mr A.E.B. Owen and Mrs Farmery from Croft were also made available.
  • Acquisition of digital copies. Some come on disk (e.g., from BL and LAO) and some as downloads (e.g., from TNA). This proved especially useful for maps.
  • Searching of printed calendars in the University Library, Durham and the Chapter Library, Durham, supplemented by on-line archives of such materials which became available later in the project.

All entries in the project's database had keywords but the whole entry was searchable, so that a family name, or that of a holding, for example, could be sought out.


For a study of the present kind, as complete a set of maps as possible is essential. The historic contribution from archives has been quite thin, with items from the BL and LAO of most interest. The earliest map is from ca 1570 and is in fact of Wainfleet Haven. A few other mss maps deal with the same zone of the East Fen, Wainfleet Haven and the R Lymn. The archival maps can be supplemented to a limited extent by downloads of printed and engraved maps from archival sources, family history websites or even commercial sales sites. Though in general of too large an area to be useful in detail (they are often of the entire county at least) they can be useful in tracing alterations in the course of the Lymn, for example. The eighteenth century map by John Grundy of the East Fen and its surrounds is especially interesting cartographically as it depicts one of the first attempts at a contour, and in content since it has an accompanying narrative from Grundy which can be set alongside the map itself. The enclosure and tithe redemption maps look interesting but in the end render little information: no lists of field names for example. Table B gives the main pre-OS maps encountered in the present investigation. Lincoln Record Society volume 96 edited by R. C. Wheeler, Maps of the Witham Fens from the Thirteenth to the Nineteenth Century (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2008) is a must.

The Ordnance Survey is of course the best cartographic source and the Cassini reprints of the 1829 Old Series One-inch are the earliest available: they are re-projected onto today's national grid. They pre-date the railways and include some at least of the drainage mills which were important for low-lying areas. Field boundaries can be seen on the Six-inch maps from the late nineteenth century which are available (as are the 25-inch maps) from Digimap at the University of Edinburgh and accessible through Shibboleth. Commercial sites permit inspection but not downloading unless payment is made. Most other OS maps have their use at some point in the work but in this case the combination of scale, mapped features, use of nineteenth century data and copyright status has meant that the 1:25,000 Provisional Edition (known colloquially as the 'Two-and-a-half-inch' map) has proved essential both as a source of information and a plotting base. Scanning into digital form has enhanced this utility. The British Library has helped by putting on-line the Surveyors' Drawings for the early One-Inch maps54 and the Tattershall sheet is reproduced in the immensely helpful and scholarly collection of maps edited by R.C. Wheeler.55 More recwntly, the National Library of Scotland has uploaded the English early six-inch maps as well as the 1:25k Provisional Edition. These are georeferences and so can be used in GIS programs.

The findings derived from map analysis will be detailed at appropriate points in the text, but it can be noted here that features such as the field patterns characteristic of fen reclamation and of salterns, the distinctive patterns of toftland, the existence of a footpath and probable sea-bank east of the High Street along the tofts, and the general likelihood of reclamation compartments being identified by nineteenth century footpaths, are all traceable on the 25k maps, with some supplementation from the six-inch sheets. It is however possible to transfer the data from some of the 16th century maps of the lower Lymn onto modern bases and thus to show how distorted their linear scales were drawn.


Aerial imagery is nearly always of value in historical studies and in East Lincolnshire it has the added attraction of being able sometimes to record features that have been destroyed by the agricultural intensification of the region since the 1970s. Care is however always needed since no soil nor crop mark
is of itself dated and there is always the temptation to see in rather abstract patterns exactly what it is desired to see. Help exists in E Lincs in the form of:

ï¿¢ The EH mapping project carried out north of Grid 60 with results available in the Lincs SMR

ï¿¢ Many other images from fenland and other lowlands in e.g., the publications of the Fenland Project

ï¿¢ Ad hoc advice from interpreters at EH

That knowledge bank is however lower in intensity than the hours spent examining and scanning imagery of the small area currently under scrutiny and so a local visual vocabulary is built up which is probably as reliable as any of the above sources. That said, it took outside observers to point out that certain rectangular traces were in fact games pitches and not Roman encampments. The main sources of aerial imagery are:

ï¿¢ Photographs, mainly BW, from the NMR56 and CUCAP (Cambridge University Committee for Aerial Photography).57 Some pictures date from as early as 1944 but there is a virtually complete coverage from 1946-7 and several series thereafter. CUCAP excels in obliques plus a very high quality BW set of verticals for part of the region from 1978 and 1980. .

ï¿¢ Photographs from commercial sources available in paper form. Several firms have cached their archive in public places and the Aerofilms / Hunting Surveys archive has gone to the NMR where it is undergoing cataloguing.58 The county HER has a number of series of photos often taken originally for planning purposes

ï¿¢ High-resolution photos from commercial sources such as eMap59 which are available for digital download though often expensive if e.g., 25cm resolution is requested. This imagery forms the basis of on-line sites such as Google Earth60 and its equivalent MSN site.61 The 2005 imagery often used on these sites is from a very dry summer

ï¿¢ Satellite imagery. NASA and USGS have a whole site devoted to such pictures, with various false colour versions designed to bring out particular features. The USGS site Landsatlook is easy to use, free and updated. For eastern England, SPOT imagery is also helpful, especially in picking out areas of darker soil where a peat cover once existed. Recent satellite data are often very high quality but expensive to acquire. In general, these data are most helpful at a regional rather than a site scale. MIMAS at Manchester University was withdrawn in 201462 .

ï¿¢ LiDAR imagery uses laser beams to plot altitude and an algorithm to screen out superficies such as building and trees. The result is a 'contour' map with a vertical interval of 10 - 20cm and horizontally precise to about 1 - 2m. In an area of low terrain, this is very useful. Most UK imagery has been flown by the Environment Agency and is also subcontracted to commercial firms. From both sources it is expensive unless some form of educational exception can be negotiated: ask the Geomatics group at the EA.

The use of aerial photography is obviously essential and is highly productive; nevertheless there are sometimes problems that need to be addressed:

ï¿¢ The coverage may be of variable quality. The OS 1968 series in the Wainfleet area, for example, is not all useful since some frames are whited out; likewise some of the 1940s RAF cover in the area is too dark for use. In the case of vary dark images, it is sometimes possible to improve them by scanning into digital form and adjusting the colour balance and gamma. Most pictures benefit from adjustment of the contrast.

ï¿¢ The coverage may not extend to all the desired places: the CUCAP RCN8 runs of 1978 for example across the north of Wainfleet are of excellent quality but a total cover of SEL was not flown. Likewise, the incidence of oblique pictures is patchy and reflects interests at the time rather than current ones

ï¿¢ Where linear features are of historic interest (former field patterns for example) then care must be taken not to confuse their soil marks with more recent traces of field drains or even machine tracks. Equally, some historical features are difficult to identify if no previous interest has been taken: an example is the eighteenth century windmills used to pump up water into major drains

ï¿¢ In the case of LiDAR, the current surface may well reflect historically raised features such as roddons but it will also depict a land surface that may have shrunk: since the nineteenth century in the case of the East Fen and almost everywhere since the 1970s

ï¿¢ Reproduction of aerial coverage is almost certainly subject to copyright. Even acquiring a copy of the OS coverage requires a copyright fee to be payable to them. (Which is annoying, since we paid for the collection in the first place).

In spite of any drawbacks, the text of the current work will show that aerial imagery has been of considerable value and in one or two places crucial.


There is no substitute for knowing the ground. In spite of the fact that this landscape has been transformed more than most by post-nineteenth century developments it is still needful to keep an eye out for traces of former landscape that are still visible: the analogy of a palimpsest is an especially good one in a flat landscape. This is especially so for minor changes of level. These fall well inside the contours set out on OS maps and total LiDAR coverage is not feasible. Yet they can indicate differences in e.g., date of reclamation from fen or the likelihood of the presence of former salterns. The shallow bank at Key's Toft is largely invisible from the air because of the trees growing on it and even in LiDAR it gets subsumed in the contours of the creek which once ran up from Wainfleet Haven. On the other hand, walking the 'High Street' public footpath along the crest of the Tofts is a largely sterile exercise: if it was indeed a sea-bank then centuries of agriculture have successfully removed all the convincing traces, whereas some banks still proclaim their origin by their width and a slight elevation, both of which are best seen on the spot. Some developments have very likely permanently covered up interesting features of the medieval landscape; the location of the actual harbour at Wainfleet has not emerged from this study with any confidence and there must be a good chance that it is now buried somewhere beneath the urban structure of the town. But basically, stopping the car and getting out to look and walk is never likely to be a waste of time.

Gaps in the Evidence

In an ideal world, a researcher has access to unlimited resources of money, skills and time and can go anywhere to seek out data, whether it be a remote record office in another continent (there are, it seems, Luftwaffe aerial photos of England kept in the USA but in a federal facility where clearly nobody has heard of email or opens letters) or to employ fifty archaeology undergraduates to do some intensive field-walking in early January. Actual investigations are usually subject to limitations, this one no less. There are are few outstanding gaps, the filling of which might change the picture and the story quite markedly.

ï¿¢ The first is the date and agency of the founding of the new town of Wainfleet All Saints. Good guesses can be made but a document which fixes such details is missing from the record as discovered in this study. It may exist but all the likely sources have been examined carefully

ï¿¢ Next is the location of the harbour in Wainfleet. This was most probably associated with the new town and not the earlier medieval settlement up the Haven. Though small medieval harbours may have lacked massive constructions, the Custumal of 1234 implies no mean installation and some trace of this might be detected by modern geophysical prospecting

ï¿¢ There is then the question of early settlement in the wetter parts. Was a Romano-British settlement (or occupation zone) covered by a marine incursion? Did the incursion lay down a complete cover of sediments or was it patchy? Did the Wainfleet area have RB salterns like Ingoldmells, for instance? Did Germanic immigrants then come into a largely uninhabited region just stabilising after sea-level rise and hence presenting some new - if perhaps rather insecure - habitats for subsistence? Some progress might be made in these questions by the kind of field-walking undertaken in the Fenland Project, which identified concentrations of e.g., Anglo-Saxon pottery fragments in places not before thought to be likely sites of interest

ï¿¢ Lastly, it is not easy to trace how much fenland reclamation took place in the seventeenth century and which portions of it persisted. Though indications of the work of 'adventurers' in the East Fen exist, there are later indications of floods which suggest that their work was either temporary or was still subject to inundation; there is something of a gap in the sequence at that time

To some extent, these items form a research agenda, though whether they should take precedence over other historical questions in the region is for future exploration.

Table A: Lincolnshire Periodicals, Monographs and Books Series and Doctoral Theses

(Material devoted specifically to the City of Lincoln is not included).

Lincolnshire Notes and Queries 1888 - 1936 Usual format for N&Q series; some reprods. of docs and disc of findings
Lincolnshire Historian 1947 - 1965 Multi-period, document-based material
Lincolnshire History and Archaeology 1966 - Modern format and coverage
Reports and Papers of the Architectural and Archaeological Societies of the Counties of Lincoln and Northampton 1831 - 1936 Gets steadily more modern in approach
History of Lincolnshire series 12 vols, 1970 - 'prehistoric times down to 1974' Of special interest: G. Platts, Land and People in Medieval Lincolnshire, 1985; D.M. Owen, Church and Society in Medieval Lincolnshire, 1971
East Anglian Archaeology 1975 - 117 vols by 2007 South of county has more coverage than north; environmental volume for south Lindsey as well as north Holland
East Midlands Archaeological Research Framework, An Archaeological Resource Assessment of ...Lincolnshire 1990s Whole of county; have bibliographies. J. Albone, Anglo-Saxon; P. Everson, Medieval; N. Field, post Medieval Period. Accessed through
Lincoln Record Society; vols on individual topics 1911 - present Assize records and wills most useful
F. West, The Social and Economic History of the East Fen Village of Wrangle 1603 - 1837 PhD Leicester 1967 Starts with the 1608 map of Wrangle foreshore; Wainfleet interest by analogy
C. J. Wales, The Knight in Twelfth-Century Lincolnshire PhD Cambridge 1983 A family history but gives holdings of e.g., Kimes in Lindsey
S. Pawley, Lincolnshire Coastal Villages and the Sea c 1300-c 1600: Economy and Society PhD Leicester 1985 Villages north of Skegness, not on Wash; good on sea-banks

Table B: Key Maps from Documentary Sources

Most of these and many others can be found in R C Wheeler's Maps of the Witham Fens

1560s (?) NAO: MPC1/237 Haven-Lymn system Rough linear scale + outline of watercourses and gowts
1580 (?) BL Maps 186.n.2. (48) Wainfleet Haven For Burleigh family; BW with some ink alterations and commentary in margin
1580 (?) BL Cotton Augustus I.i.82 Wainfleet Haven Coloured version of above. Scale very elastic
1653 Bethlem N. edge of East Fen in Wainfleet St Mary Coloured plans of land allocation after reclamation
1664 Dugdale East Fen As with Stukeley; detail of 'deeps'
17c LCL: Fens Antiquities East Fen Coloured; scale; outline information only
1730 Spalding Gentlemens' Society Wainfleet Haven with gowts Follows Court of Sewers verdict BW outline map, no scale
1732 Stukeley; Itinerarium East Fen - Sea Useful detail but looks a bit speculative in places
1774 Grundy East Fen and margins Mis-aligned E-W; good copy at LAO: TYR4/3/20
1770s LAO: TYR 2/2/3 Lower Haven with reclamations and sluices Sketch format
1770s LAO: MM VI/7/9/48 Orby-Lymn-Haven system Sketch format; most detail in upper reaches
1792 NAO: MPC1/158 Wainfleet Haven Accurate scale but confined to Haven side; 'a schedule of encroachments'
18c Magdalen Lands leased in Wainfleet Incl. TSP and Engine Drains
1800 Endpapers of Robinson's Lincs Seaside County Careful survey but with limited detail