Dutch engineers and the draining of the fens in eastern England

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The wetlands of eastern Europe are either marhes or fens. The former include areas of coastal silt and clay, usually located within former estuaries or behind spits of sands and single. The latter are areas of peat soil that usually lay inland from coastal marshes. In the 17th century, the Great Level which formed the southern and central portion of the Fens were the main target for drainers. It was here that Dutch engineers left their greatest mark on the English landscape. Due to economic factors and of consequent lack of investment in the maintenance or improvement of drainage works, achievements by Dutch engineers in the middle decades of the 17th century were followed by a period of deterioration. The chronology of wetland drainage in England in all periods was attributed to a complex mixture of economic, social, and technological factors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-119
Number of pages17
JournalNederlandse Geografische Studies
Issue number338
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006


  • drainage
  • fen
  • historial geography
  • hydrotechnical engineering

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