The land here was taken from marsh and sea for farming and industry
When the rain comes down in buckets for days, we see,
The marsh returns and the sea reclaims it’s property.
This is a map of Lindsey in the early Mediaeval period, approximately 700 C.E.; as you can see there’s an awful lot of marshland making, with the rivers and sea, Lindsey effectively an island. Much of it was, and remains, low lying farmland. From the 16th century onwards, with the help of Dutch experts on draining and reclaiming land, the marshes and fens were reclaimed as farmland. Several coastal towns and villages expanded on to these drained marshes. Industry has made use of these ‘reclaimed’ areas, especially along the Humber bank, where direct access to the deep water channels make it easier for cargo ships to bring in raw materials for the those factories – many chemical factories, and, until they were forced to clean up their act, also provided a convenient dump for industrial waste.
Reclaiming is a misnomer; we never had any claim to the marsh, fen and tidal land, and it was never taken from us to be reclaimed. The draining of the marshes was a claiming of property for the enrichment of land owners, ignoring the people – human and otherwise – who had lived their for generations, whose place it was.
When it rains heavily for days on end as it has done for the last few weeks, the land floods and for a while it’s reclaimed by the marsh, reminding the local human population that we’re not the only ones here.
Inspiration for this post:
I went to collect a parcel from the sorting office yesterday morning, opposite the entrance to the industrial estate on which the sorting office is located – and very close to the Humber North Wall – is a triangle of land. It is used as a parking area for lorries. All of this built on drained marshland; some of the parking area is grass. It was all underwater and waterfowl were happily floating around on the surface. The fields and newly planted woods (10 – 16 years old) that I walk my dogs in are soaked, making them difficult to walk through without churning up the grass and leaving thick, soaking wet clay. It’s a reminder that the landscape we see isn’t unchanging.