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Early medieval flood defence at Botolph's Bridge, West Hythe

A Scheduled Monument in Burmarsh, Kent

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Latitude: 51.0611 / 51°3'40"N

Longitude: 1.03 / 1°1'47"E

OS Eastings: 612411.835

OS Northings: 133457.2483

OS Grid: TR124334

Mapcode National: GBR V0Q.H6N

Mapcode Global: FRA F619.WLT

Entry Name: Early medieval flood defence at Botolph's Bridge, West Hythe

Scheduled Date: 16 February 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016518

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31415

County: Kent

Civil Parish: Burmarsh

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent


The monument includes the best surviving stretch of a flood defence embankment
situated near the north eastern edge of Romney Marsh. The embankment has been
dated to the later Anglo-Saxon period (eighth-ninth centuries AD), and
survives as a roughly south west-north east aligned, curving earthwork around
358m long, up to 20m wide and 0.5m high. It was constructed in order to help
protect the fertile agricultural lands of this part of the marsh from
inundation by flood water. It is thought to have been in use for a relatively
short period before being made redundant by natural coastal changes and the
reclamation for agriculture and settlement of the southern part of Romney
Marsh, achieved by the 11th century.

A detailed survey carried out in 1995 indicated that the bank has been
breached in two places close to each end of the monument, probably during
episodes of flooding. The western breach has been remodelled by a later
drainage ditch excavated during the early post-medieval period.

The flood defence originally ran for several kilometres along the southern
bank of the northern branch of the River Rother (formerly known as the Limen).
Historical records and geological surveys have indicated that the river
estuary issued into the English Channel near Lympne during the early medieval
period, before natural coastal processes altered the course of the rivers
which drained into the marsh. The former course of the river is represented by
a natural creek ridge followed by the roughly east-west aligned Burmarsh to
Newchurch road, which runs just to the north of the monument.

The remainder of the embankment beyond the monument has been partly or
completely levelled by subsequent ploughing and is therefore not included in
the scheduling.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Roman and medieval flood defences were barriers designed to prevent the
inundation of land by salt or freshwater floods, and to assist in the
reclamation and drainage of large areas of low lying land. They normally
survive as a low elongated earth bank with a ditch on the landward side. The
banks were made of local clay or turf and were sometimes strengthened by
internal wooden frameworks, wattling or stone facing. Regular repair of flood
defences meant they often had a long life span of many hundred years with some
medieval embankments still in use today. Unaltered examples, ie surviving
medieval defences not subsequently reused in the post-medieval period, are
comparatively rare, and Roman examples rarer still. Flood defences are one of
a small number of Roman and medieval monuments to show the effects of man on
water control. Their longevity and their influence on the layout and pattern
of large areas of low lying land all contribute to their importance.

Romney Marsh and the adjoining Pevensey Levels form one of the three main
groups of medieval flood defences in England. The early medieval flood defence
at Botolph's Bridge survives comparatively well in mostly unaltered form and
represents one of the earliest visible traces of the inning of Romney Marsh
for agriculture and settlement during the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Reeves, A, Romney Marsh Earthworks Survey 1995, (1996)
Brooks, N, 'OUCA Monograph' in Romney Marsh in the Early Middle Ages, , Vol. 24, (1988), 90-104

Source: Historic England

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