A rainy Easter Monday, but Burnham & District Museum reopened Good Friday for its 2018 season so I went there to renew my membership and review their library. The good selection of books there allowed me to do some more work researching the history of woodland cover on the Dengie. The Domesday Book period of 1086 CE and thereabouts gets the most attention as it remains the first substantive account of England. Several people have attempted to turn the records of the Domesday Book‘s purely textual account into a visual cartographic form – and one of the map elements frequently reasoned inductively is woodland cover.
Mixed-bag of weather today that made walking far undesirable, especially after yesterday’s puddlicious Southend trip. Burnham’s little library has a small local history/topography collection with enough in it to hold one’s attention quite a while – including a copy of the book of the great Chapman/André 1777 map of Essex.
Another map has captured my imagination more recently however, the one above taken from A Popular History of the Dengie Hundred by M.J. Ayres, R.J. Blaney & T.J. Wood. This map is a highly speculative rendering of how the Dengie might have looked in a period for which we have no good contemporary rendering. I’m attracted by the suggestion of woodland on the higher ground, as it gives some impression of what might have been lost locally (only 2% of Essex is covered by ancient, semi-natural woodland, Essex is the second least wooded county in England – and Maldon district has only 3% woodland cover of any kind), and because it visualizes a suggestion made by P.H. Reaney as to the etymology of the name Dengie itself: Continue reading “Desk Research: Dengie Woodland”