Medieval network of canals is found.

Written on Saturday 18th October 2008

Medieval canals, built by monasteries and used by punting monks, have been discovered in the Boston area. Around 90 km (or close to 60 miles) of waterways have been spotted in aerial photographs of Lincolnshire's Fens. The canals, which are between six and 12 metres in width, are silted up and as such, invisible FROM the ground. They were discovered almost by accident, when Boston's Witham Fourth Drainage Board studied aerial photographs during an environmental impact assessment.

Assistant engineering manager Martin Redding, a member of the Witham Valley Archaeology Research Committee, described the discovery as a 'mammoth engineering project'. He told The Standard that some of the canals traverse the River Witham, meaning users would have had to have sophisticated engineering structures in place - such as locks - to compensate for the tidal changes in water level. Mr Redding spoke to the Royal Geographical Society and Institute of British Geographers annual conference in London about the discovery on Friday. The conference was told that the canals link a number of monasteries and monastic farms belonging to different religious orders. They were probably built by religious orders after 9th century raids by Vikings, who destroyed many monastic sites. The canals were likely to have been used first to transport locally -quarried stone to rebuild the ruined sites, and then subsequently, for trade, guests heard.


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