The drowned and the drained: water politics and agrarian improvement in the northern fens, 1625-1660
07 Dec 2018, 17:15 to 07 Dec 2018, 19:15
IHR Seminar Room N304, Third Floor, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Elly Robson, Cambridge
From the late 1620s, major state-led drainage projects in the fens of eastern England sought to alchemise pastoral, common wetlands into arable, enclosed terra firma. Transformations in water management resulted in dramatic alterations in land ownership and corresponding social relations. Far from eliminating flooding, however, drainage redistributed excess waters onto previously dry lands, rendering previously resilient local communities vulnerable. This paper explores conflict over how flood risk was understood and managed in the seventeenth-century fens, which engendered landscapes of flux as entrepreneurial drainers and fen commoners attempted to enact competing visions of the fenscape.
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