, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 129–131 | Cite as

State formation and the draining of the fens

Eric H. Ash: The draining of the fens: projectors, popular politics, and state building in early modern England. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017, 416pp, US$54.95HB
  • Leslie Tomory
Book Review

One of the most famous engineering projects of early modern England was the draining of the fens, a large area of wetlands located on the east coast of Great Britain largely in the counties of Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, and Norfolk. These areas were transformed by a series of projects undertaken during the seventeenth century in which investors, engineers, and local and national politicians collaborated to build a network of drainage canals and irrigation works running through the area. The canals (or ‘levels’) channelled water to the sea more directly than the old rivers that meandered through the fens. They were also embanked, isolating the channel from the surrounding wetlands, which drained as a consequence, especially when wind-driven pumps were installed to lift water from the wetlands into the canals. Over time, these engineering works transformed the fens geographically, agriculturally, socially, and politically. As the peat dried out, it subsided, replacing the wetlands...

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leslie Tomory
    • 1
  1. 1.MontrealCanada

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