Early medieval flood defence at Botolph's Bridge, West Hythe


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016518

Date first listed: 16-Feb-1999


Ordnance survey map of Early medieval flood defence at Botolph's Bridge, West Hythe
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This copy shows the entry on 14-Dec-2018 at 10:15:35.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Kent

District: Shepway (District Authority)

Parish: Hythe

National Grid Reference: TR1241233428


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Roman and medieval flood defences were barriers designed to prevent the inundation of land by salt or freshwater floods, and to assist in the reclamation and drainage of large areas of low lying land. They normally survive as a low elongated earth bank with a ditch on the landward side. The banks were made of local clay or turf and were sometimes strengthened by internal wooden frameworks, wattling or stone facing. Regular repair of flood defences meant they often had a long life span of many hundred years with some medieval embankments still in use today. Unaltered examples, ie surviving medieval defences not subsequently reused in the post-medieval period, are comparatively rare, and Roman examples rarer still. Flood defences are one of a small number of Roman and medieval monuments to show the effects of man on water control. Their longevity and their influence on the layout and pattern of large areas of low lying land all contribute to their importance.

Romney Marsh and the adjoining Pevensey Levels form one of the three main groups of medieval flood defences in England. The early medieval flood defence at Botolph's Bridge survives comparatively well in mostly unaltered form and represents one of the earliest visible traces of the inning of Romney Marsh for agriculture and settlement during the medieval period.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the best surviving stretch of a flood defence embankment situated near the north eastern edge of Romney Marsh. The embankment has been dated to the later Anglo-Saxon period (eighth-ninth centuries AD), and survives as a roughly south west-north east aligned, curving earthwork around 358m long, up to 20m wide and 0.5m high. It was constructed in order to help protect the fertile agricultural lands of this part of the marsh from inundation by flood water. It is thought to have been in use for a relatively short period before being made redundant by natural coastal changes and the reclamation for agriculture and settlement of the southern part of Romney Marsh, achieved by the 11th century.

A detailed survey carried out in 1995 indicated that the bank has been breached in two places close to each end of the monument, probably during episodes of flooding. The western breach has been remodelled by a later drainage ditch excavated during the early post-medieval period.

The flood defence originally ran for several kilometres along the southern bank of the northern branch of the River Rother (formerly known as the Limen). Historical records and geological surveys have indicated that the river estuary issued into the English Channel near Lympne during the early medieval period, before natural coastal processes altered the course of the rivers which drained into the marsh. The former course of the river is represented by a natural creek ridge followed by the roughly east-west aligned Burmarsh to Newchurch road, which runs just to the north of the monument.

The remainder of the embankment beyond the monument has been partly or completely levelled by subsequent ploughing and is therefore not included in the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 31415

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Reeves, A, Romney Marsh Earthworks Survey 1995, (1996)
Brooks, N, 'OUCA Monograph' in Romney Marsh in the Early Middle Ages, , Vol. 24, (1988), 90-104

End of official listing