On Saturday 16 October 2021, we held our first-ever online conference, organised jointly with the University of Lincoln. The conference was originally scheduled to be held in Lincoln in the autumn of 2020, but due to the COVID-19 situation it was first postponed and then moved online. Although the changed circumstances meant that the 60+ delegates were unable to enjoy the sights of Lincoln, the city did make its presence felt. As Professor Carenza Lewis from the University of Lincoln chaired the morning session her timekeeping was aided by chimes from the nearby cathedral clock.
The opening paper by Professor Mark Macklin painted the bigger picture by looking at environmental change across all UK river systems. Homing in on the Lincolnshire part of this broad canvas, subsequent speakers then investigated aspects of landscape evolution in the county’s fens and rivers.
Topics ranged through time, from the post-glacial changes in the course of the River Witham, through Bronze Age settlement, prehistoric salt making, the early Medieval management of commons, monastic sites, and 18th century drainage schemes, through to the present-day re-wetting or ‘undraining’ of the fens.
In a region where much of the land is close to sea level, it was notable how many speakers made use of lidar images; valuable in detecting the smallest changes in elevation, and so revealing features such as palaeochannels or prehistoric salterns in the apparently flat landscape.
Overall, delegates were treated to a thorough account of the landscape history of the Lincolnshire fens, and those unfamiliar with the area were also introduced to a new vocabulary that includes ‘roddons’, ‘fen slodgers’, ‘lodes’, and ‘dales’. All terms that may well crop up in a full report of the conference that will appear in the next issue of the Society’s newsletter, which will be sent to all members in January 2022.
Conference programme and related reading.
A follow-up field meeting is being planned for June 2022.