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ASTED'S "HISTORY OF KENT,"
t with. Cliffsend is not given in the Map, but its position is where ck dot is placed.
brackish-water origin. The tradition about the famed Rutupian oysters will not bear investigation.
And so far as the relative height of the water in Roman times is concerned, we have evidence that the foundation of a Roman house was cut through when the South-Eastern Railway was laid below the Castrum, and but little above the present level of the water in the river close by at high tide. And it is easy to shew from other parts of the coast that at the period of the Roman occupation of Britain the sea rose no higher than it does now; nay, the evidence is rather the other way, viz.: that the land stood relatively higher than at present.
Such an estuary as I have pictured must have, in the Roman period, presented at low tide a series of mud-flats on either side of the main river, which were only covered by water at high tide, and some portions only at spring tides. Through these mud-flats the spring water from the chalk hills of Thanet (which dip down to the Marsh) would find their way into the main river as fleets. At high tide they would be covered by the sea, in this case exactly resembling the present mouth of the Stour, which runs across Pegwell Bay, and is marked for the purpose of navigation by poles driven into the mud on either side of the river. Such, I take it, must have been the case with the Minster fleet, which received the greater part of the spring waters from the chalk hills.
Putting aside then all these hypothetical notions of the physical changes that have been supposed to have existed, let us see what sort of historical evidences we have in respect to this estuary. First, Solinus, the first Roman writer who mentions the Isle of Thanet, says that: "It is washed by the Straits of Gaul, and separated from the continent of Britain by a small estuary." The estuary is described by Bede under the name of Wantsum, which Saxon name clearly has the same meaning as "greatly decreasing" has in English. Although it is described as about three furlongs in breadth, we are not informed where this is measured from, and taking the present marsh to represent the course of the estuary this would only be true at its widest part, and