Review by Duncan W Wright.
The fens of eastern England are usually characterised as unremittingly flat, with big skies but little topographical variation. This (frankly lazy) assumption fails to account for the subtle differences in geology and height above sea level that are key to understanding the fens and their archaeological development. Important work has been undertaken to understand this evolution, most notably the Fenland Survey of the 1980s, in which over 250,000 hectares of land were field-walked and the results contextualised with radiocarbon and paleoenvironmental evidence. In Fen and Sea, I G Simmons builds upon the foundation of previous work, taking as his focus south-east Lincolnshire; arguably the least-studied sub-region of the fens. A wide range of material is ably integrated by the author, with archaeological, documentary, place-name, and environmental data all prominent. The volume’s scope is the medieval and post-medieval periods, although key changes from the Roman and early medieval periods are also discussed. Overall, this is a useful and highly accessible piece of landscape history that emphasises the richness and variety of an often overlooked and undervalued landscape.
Fen and Sea: the landscapes of south-east Lincolnshire AD 500-1700
I G Simmons
Windgather Press, £34.99