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Climate Change Threatens The Past Too

By Cllr Mike Eddy, Deal Town Council, Walmer Council

That’s the headline on the front cover of the latest edition of British Archaeology, published by the national Council for British Archaeology. Half the edition is devoted to the impacts of coastal erosion and the destruction of bogs and wetlands in the build-up to November’s Cop26 confernence in Glasgow.

Of special interest to those of us in East Kent is report of CITiZAN (the Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network) which carried out work in Sandwich Bay where wooden fish traps have been recorded, the positions of which can shed light on coastal and tidal changes.

But one of the most worrying discoveries of the CITiZAN project has been along the coast of Mersea Island off the coast of Essex. Back in the 1920s the shore of Mersea Island was protected by various sea grasses, particularly eel grass, but the heavy use of fertilisers in the 1940s polluted the estuary and killed off the eel grass leaving the shoreline exposed to erosion. Coastal biodiversity began to collapse and was made worse by the use of anti-fouling paint on boat hulls. Cockles and winkles were wiped out by the 1980s with oysters in sharp decline. Chemicals had all but destroyed a local industry which had existed since Roman times, and parts of the island are being redeposited in sand banks.

More information can be found at https://citizan.org.uk.

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