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Was the high tide in Saxon times 5 metres higher ? - the Wash


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Was the high tide level in Anglo Saxon times higher than today
 

This page is designed to show why I believe that the high tide level was 4 to 5 metres higher than today, in about 450AD (early Anglo Saxon times)

So we will start by looking at the Saxon place names which refer to islands these places are all derived from the Saxon word æg meaning an island, which has been shown to refer to modern place names starting in eg, ending in ay, et, ey, ly, ney, sea, sey, ye , is, or contain the snippet eye or island.

So lets take a look at the Wash in Eastern England and see if we can make it and the surrounding island villages into islands by raising the sea level. The following images are derived from Open Streetmap with the sea level overlays provided by Alex Tingle from http://flood.firetree.net.


The Wash in Eastern England
 

Lets take an area I don't really know, the Wash and see if the Pevensey arguement applies- click here if you would like to see a similar argument applied to an area I do know, the Pevensey Levels in Sussex.

I think this is a valid argument for a 5 metre sea level so we need to overlay all our maps with this and see what this shows, the following maps show what effect this would have on the Wash. As you will see , most of the river valleys would have been accessible from the sea, and large areas would have been under water.

The 'Time Team' carried out a dig at 'Bawsey st Peter' in Norfolk and found a causeway to the island there, this also ties in with the increase in high tide level by about 5 metres, the Saxon name Bawsey either means 'Pasture Island' or 'Boars Island' so more evidence that the 5 metre mark is valid.

Ivan D Margary plotted one of the Roman Roads in South Lincolnshire M27 - Lincoln to Burgh Le Marsh in which the road stopped at Burgh le Marsh, this would be on the coast with the high tide at +5 metres.

The following images are derived from Open Streetmap with the sea level overlays provided by Alex Tingle from http://flood.firetree.net, please note that you can click on each map below to show the flood.firetree map.

So lets take a look at modern Pevensey and see if we can make it and the surrounding island villages into islands by raising the sea level. The following images are derived from Open Streetmap with the sea level overlays provided by Alex Tingle from http://flood.firetree.net.


This map shows the current sea level
 

So even at the present day there is land deep in the fens where the land lies below sea level.

On this map I also show Roman Roads from Ivan D Margary's book 'RomanRoads in Britain' that touch or go near the Wash.

I have also marked the Roman town of Durobrivae as I believe this may be important.

These roads from top left are as follows (his relevent text is in italics):

M27 Lincoln to Burgh-le-Marsh
'This is the last certain portion of the alignment which if continued beyond Burgh would have crossed the marshes to the coast.'
This road would appear to stop here - why??.

M273 Stixwould to Saltfleet
'It was probably continued south-westward near Stixwould on the edge of the fens, and may have had a connection through Woodhall Spa and North Kyme with the Sleaford road(260) but this is uncertain.'
This road would appear to stop at Stixwould.

M58b Grantham(Saltersford) to Donington
'After passing Swaton, where it turns a little to the south-east, it crosses the belt of fen land and bears the name Bridge End Causeway, reaching Donington just beyond, and no definte course has been traced onwards'
The road appears to stop at Donington.

M250 Bourne to Sleaford
I have included this road to show its proximity to the fens.

M26 Chesterton to Ancaster via Bourne(King Street)
I have included a section of this road to show its proximity to the fens.

M2 Chesterton to Lincoln(Ermine Street)
I have included a section of this road to show its proximity to the fens.

M25 Upton to Peterborough to Denver (The Fen Road)
I have included a section of this road to show its relevence to the fens and was probably originally just a causeway with bridges.

M23b Cambridge to Littleport
'The Ely road returns to the line for the last 1/2 mile to the town, and it is likely that this line was followed by the Roman road right on to Littleport, rather to the west of the centre of Ely'
The road stops at Littleport, why not continue to Denver.

M332 Roudham Heath to Hockwold
'The present road deviates through the village, but the line is continued by a hedgerow and footpath until, just beyound, the present road resumes the line and continues very straight for 3 1/2 miles to Hockwold and through the village right to the edge of the fenland area.'
The road stops at Hockwold.


This map shows the sea level raised by 1 metre
 

This is just a 1 metre rise in sea level but you can see that a lot of the inland land would be flooded.

This map is derived from flood.firetree.net and shows the effect of a 1 metre rise in sea levels in the Wash in Eastern England.


This map shows the sea level raised by 2 metres
 

This map is derived from flood.firetree.net and shows the effect of a 1 metre rise in sea levels in the Wash in Eastern England.


This map shows the sea level raised by 3 metres
 

This is just a 3 metre rise in sea levels and you can now start to see the islands forming.

This map is derived from flood.firetree.net and shows the effect of a 1 metre rise in sea levels in the Wash in Eastern England.


This map shows the sea level raised by 5 metres
 

This is the final slide at 5 metres and shows the æg's as islands.

It also shows the proximity to the proposed coastline of the Roman Roads M250, M26 and M2 explaining why they were buit where they are. Also the Roman town of Durobrivae at Water Newton would have been a sea port.

Also if you look at the other Roman roads plotted by Margary, they all appear to end on the coast.

This map is derived from flood.firetree.net and shows the effect of a 5 metre rise in sea levels in the Wash in Eastern England.


Conclusion(possibly)
 

The Saxon definition of an æg would appear to mean a piece of land that wasn’t flooded at the highest high tide or that the sea was about 4.5 metres higher than today.

Modern sea defences and shingle banks have a tendancy to hide the actual sea level.

You may not be convinced from a small example from the Wash, but here to see the same logic applied to the Pevensey levels in East Sussex.



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Author Simon M - Last updated - 2023-11-29 11:32:19
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