Medieval canals network revealed
A network of more than 50 miles of medieval canals created by monks – who punted down them – has been discovered in Lincolnshire.
The ditches dug from the Witham Valley up to 1,000 years ago were unearthed by a county archaeologist and civil engineer.
Using aerial photographs, Martin Redding spotted the telltale signs of the canals.
Medieval monks from orders including the Benedictines and Cistercians are believed to have created the waterway network between 800 and 1,000 years ago.
The canals are thought to have been first created as a means to rebuild monasteries destroyed in the 9th century Viking raids.
Mr Redding says he has tracked around 56 miles of waterways from Stixwould Priory to Boston to Swineshead [Abbey].
The canals may also have run into Lincoln itself, he said.
He made the discovery while carrying out an environmental impact statement for the Witham Fourth District Internal Drainage Board, where he works.
“I borrowed some aerial photographs and, looking at them, it became very apparent that there were very faint lines across the landscape,” he said.
None of the canals have been excavated and Mr Redding is now hoping that archaeologists will come forward to take the project further.
TV historian Adam Hart-Davis said the discovery is “tremendous news”.