The sixth programme in an eight-part series in which Professor Aubrey Manning seeks to solve some of the enduring mysteries of the British landscape through clues in geology, archaeology and natural history.
`On the Romney Marsh in Kent, there are ruined churches in the middle of fields and tales of towns lost at sea. At some time, the area supported a much bigger population than it does now. Aubrey sets out to find out what happened to these lost communites and why the Marsh is now one of the most deserted areas in the country.
Jill Eddison is the main source of information about the loss of population on the marshes. The encroaching sea, storms and disease were the main factors, perhaps the most surprising being an epidemic of malaria the so-called "ague". Historian, Mary Dobson explains that this arose from the badly drained stagnant marshes which was the last straw for an unhealthy population.
By the 19th century, the drainage was improved, and the health of the people improved. But it was too late to change the pattern of settlement. In the 20th century, the fields on the Marsh became even bigger, leaving the bleak landscape we see today.' [Open University Worldwide website].