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• History of New Romney
Changing face of New Romney Marsh
Story of Dr Syn

Changing face of Romney Marsh - 10000BC to 2000AD

The land of the Romney Marsh used to be marshland, but over time it has been changed to its current form. We would like to take you down the annals of time to about 10000 BC to see the changes brought about by a mixture of Man and Nature. Romney Marsh at the present day has been mostly converted to very fertile farmland; quite a large area lies below sea level, but is protected by sea defences and walls throughout the area. The Marshes are famous for their sheep and smuggling which for many years provided income to the locals .The area is well used by windsurfers, sailors and other water sports enthusiasts. The majority of the beaches are sandy and safe for families.

The whole area, as with the rest of Sussex has been affected by severe oscillations of land level over the last 10,000 years. Below you will see the development of the Romney Marsh over the past 8,000 years.

image001 6000 BC

The area is bordered by a range of hills (shown in green), through which three rivers pass, they all flow into the area from the left of the map (west) and consist of the Rother, the Tillingham and the Brede. The land was about 40 ft lower than at present, and the whole area was under water. This made the area look like a great bay. The headland at Fairlight and Hastings was about 2 miles further out at sea at this point.

3000 BC

The land has risen about 40 ft and is now above sea level, the land dried out, and the salt leached away, the whole area is covered by forests, the remains of which are visible today as a Submerged forest at Pett Level.

100 AD

he land rose about 370AD, but it is on its way down again. The Romans build a wall around the northern part of the area, probably to create saltpans, with which to provide troops in both England and Europe. The river Rother flows north of the Isle of Oxney and out through the salt marshes to the sea at Romney.

1250 AD

The land is slowly being reclaimed by the local inhabitants and the Rother is helping to keep the port of Romney clear, with its flow throughout the area, this is the high point for the inhabitants of Romney, with the Cinque Ports , and their entourage. The town of (P) Broomehill and Winchelsea, which lie on the south edge of the marsh being important port towns.


1287 AD

A severe storm has hit the channel, and the movement of shingle has blocked the outlet of the Rother at Romney, changing its path forever down to Rye and out into the sea. The Storm sweeps away the towns of (P) Broom hill and Winchelsea entirely and destroys many ships. The Cinque ports are devastated. New Romney is founded; Winchelsea is built in its current position.

image006 1666 AD

Another 100 years further on in time we can see that the Rother is still flowing to the north of the Isle of Oxney, and the area around Walland Marsh is now open to the sea, but much of the land has been reclaimed especially around Old Romney, Rye and Winchelsea are both important ports, as they have a protected harbour.

(This map has been taken from a map of the time)

image007 1750 AD

The river Rother has now changed its route to the sea, and now flows to the south of the Isle of Oxney. More land has been reclaimed and the area is becoming less and less marshy. The area around Rye and Winchelsea now provides safe haven for the sailing ships at the time, this shows Rye at the height of its fame. The dotted line shows the present coastline. It also shows that the Tillingham and the Brede were still navigable at this point, but the Rother is only navigable to the Isle of Oxney.

2000 AD

Within the line of the hills lies the Royal Military Canal, which was built in the early 1800's to protect against invasion from Napoleon. Quite a large area lies below sea level, but is protected by sea defences and walls throughout the area. The area now consists of rich and fertile farmland./td>

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