On The Level About Lincolnshire - Part Three

Evidence of depopulation and repopulation around Ground Zero. Thu 01 June 2023

Eastern England's burned and ruined towns. Source: see below

Travellers in 17th and 18th century eastern England noted the region was littered with destroyed towns, strange sand patches and destroyed monasteries.

From History of Lincolnshire - Wikipedia:

The Witham valley between Boston and Lincoln was developed with the highest concentration of Christian abbeys and monastic foundations in England. The principal foundations were Barlings Abbey, Bardney Abbey, Catley Abbey, Nocton Priory, Stainfield Abbey, Stixwould Abbey, Tupholme Abbey, Kirkstead Abbey, Kyme Abbey. There were also monastic houses at Bourne Abbey, Sempringham Abbey and many other places. But the clustering along the Witham was extraordinary. 1

Highlighting two hints in this quote:

and many other places

which means: "our list of monasteries isn't the half of it."

And the second hint:

But the clustering along the Witham was extraordinary.

Which translates as: "why were so many monasteries built here in the first place?"

Mapping Wikipedia's list of principal monasteries (yellow markers) against the eastern England destruction zone:

Wikipedia's principal River Witham monasteries mapped against sunken church reports.


  • Red marker: Documented sunken church.
  • Orange marker: Legend of sunken church.
  • Blue circle: Inner corridor of sunken churches.
  • Green circle: Outer circle of sunken churches.
  • Red circle: Change in near-surface geology shown on BGS map.
  • Yellow marker: Dissolved 'monastic houses' per Wikipedia sample.

Turning to the scale of monastic destruction...

Across England and Wales, ruined monasteries tend to look like this:

Remains of Furness Abbey, Cumbria. Source

And this:

Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire, Wales. Source: Tintern Abbey

Or at worst, this:

Reading Abbey, Berkshire. Source: Reading Abbey

Overall, we see lengths of wall, a few complete doorway arches, a few complete window arches. But no roofs.

In Lincolnshire, ruined monasteries are also missing their roofs:

Remains of Kirkstead Abbey. Source: Kirkstead Abbey


Remains of Barlings Abbey. Source: Barlings Abbey


Remains of Tupholme Abbey. Source: Tupholme Abbey

Here are the remains of one of Lincolnshire's largest monastic houses:

Bardney Abbey, Lincolnshire. Source: Bardney Abbey

The humps were added back much later. They mark where columns used to be.

Clearly, Lincolnshire's monastic houses aren't just lacking roofs.

These four images weren't selected because they show particularly ruined Lincolnshire monastic houses. They were selected because they're on Wikipedia's list of 'principle' Lincolnshire monastic houses.

There is an exception:

Crowland Abbey. View from south east. Source

Crowland Abbey is 29km (18m) from Ground Zero:

Yellow marker: Crowland Abbey.

Given Crowland Abbey's proximity to the apparent centre of a destructive event and the state of Lincolnshire's other monastic houses, you would expect it to have been flattened.

However, let's look a little more closely at this 'ruin'. For example, the parts closest to the camera; the parts outlined in red:

Note the massive, somewhat ornate, stone pier and the high arch of single stones that springs from it.

From Crowland Abbey: History:

Much careful restoration and repair has been carried out since 1860

Twenty years into that restoration, Crowland Abbey looked like this:

Crowland Abbey 1880. View from south west. Source: Crowland Abbey

Compared to the Crowland Abbey photograph above this viewpoint is about 90 degrees to the left.

We see:

  • the big, ornate, south eastern pier is missing
  • the high, single-stone arch that depends on that pier is also missing.

In the image above, the arch and pier should be to the right of the ruin.

Crowland Abbey only looks like other British monastic ruins because it was rebuilt in the 19th century so that it looked more complete.

More evidence of a Fenland catastrophe

1. The green circle and eastern England's sand deserts

The green circle encompasses enigmatic 17th century cover-sands described in Desert Islands of Eastern England.

Cover-sands in the English Midlands. Map source

2. The green circle encompasses 'forgotten' lost towns:

The green circle encompasses many ruined and depopulated towns listed in Depopulated England. Eyewitness Evidence:

Vanished eastern England towns.


  • Grey marker: Location of ruined or burned town.
  • Fire marker: Town ruined by fire.

For more details and sources, see:

After depopulation came re-population.

From Thorney, Cambridgeshire:

A community of Walloon Protestant refugees, originally from areas of Flanders that are now northern France, was settled here in the 17th century with their own church and minister, employing the ruins of the abbey for services in their own language.


Thorney began as a Saxon settlement in about 500 AD.

Adjusted for stretched chronology, that means 1500 AD.

They were needed because medieval farmers had lost the plot. The agricultural plot:

... in 1550. At this time only a few hundred acres of the land was cultivatable.

The Walloons had expertise in fenland drainage.

And not just at Thorney... A few miles north west of Thorney, Market Deeping was also being re-populated.

From The Torrington Diaries, Abridged, in a journal entry for 23 June 1791 on p338:

This is a very low, damp situation: and the natives appear Flemish in their looks, and the length of their round hair.

And not just at Thorney and Market Deeping... A few miles north west of Market Deeping are Leicestershire's Market Harborough and the villages of Frisby and Frisby on the Wreake.

From The diary of Abraham De la Pryme, the Yorkshire antiquary, at Market Harborough, 1694-03-29, p34:

we went to Haverburough, commonly called Harburg, which is a very fine, stately, magnificent market town

With a fine Saxon name.

From Frisby on the Wreake:

[Frisby] refers to the farm or settlement of the Frisians. The "on the Wreake" suffix was added later to distinguish the village from another Frisby, near Billesdon, about 8 miles (13 km) to the southeast.

Wikipedia says the Frisians arrived in the 8th century. But Mr North and the Add a Thousand Years... rule suggest they arrived more recently.

From The Parish Registers of Frisby-on-the-Wreake, County of Leicester in Transactions of the Leicestershire Architectural and Archaeological Society Vol V Part I, 1882, presented by Mr North, 1876-05-29, p26:

The Registers here consist of eight books.

A parchment book, with entries from the year 1659 to the year 1812. That is, of baptisms, burials, and marriages, until 1754, and from that date to 1812 of baptisms and burials only.

In 1755 marriages began to be recorded in a separate register 2 . These marriages were of incomers. At the same time, deaths increased from 12-15 each year to 25 each year. North told his audience - indirectly - that the Parish clerk had gone, replaced by an unnamed clerk:

In 1758 the number of deaths reached twenty-five. A note is made in a strange hand: "Died about 1 in 7 in the natural way."

That is, six out of seven died out of the ordinary course from some epidemic. That epidemic was the small-pox, as is shown by the Register.

Six in seven of Frisby's residents died out the same way native Americans died out: the introduction of a disease against which they had no immunity. North also pointed out that new names - such as Miss S. Vanhomrigh - now appeared in the registers.

That's Frisby on the Wreake. Frisby is a small village surrounded by humps and hollows - the remains of its larger former self.

How do these five locations - Thorney, Market Deeping, Market Harborough, Frisby and Frisby on the Wreake - map against the disaster zone?

Evidence of repopulation by French, Dutch and Frisians (Dutch/German/Danish).


  • Red marker: Evidence of recent Germanic repopulation
  • Orange marker: Evidence of recent Germanic population
  • Blue marker: Evidence of recent northern French repopulation
  • Green marker: Evidence of recent Belgan repopulation

Re-population has been hidden. Conventionally, it is presented as two separate immigration events separated by 1,000 years:

Two threads of the same yarn.

3. At the centre of the circles is a historical mystery. It's where King John allegedly lost his 'treasure' in a flood. One version of that narrative is here; good illustrations here.

4. From within the green circle come accounts of destruction caused by fire from the sky:

Witnesses to the trail of destruction.


  • Red marker: Documented sunken church.
  • Orange marker: Legend of sunken church.
  • Yellow marker: Dissolved 'monastic houses' per Wikipedia's excerpt above.
  • Grey marker: Location of ruined or burned town.
  • Black marker: Location of possible survivor report

Four locations with possible survivor reports:

Excerpted from Not the English Civil War:

1. From The Diary of Abraham de la Pryme, the Yorkshire Antiquary, Abraham de la Pryme, 1697, p154 on Grimsby's fire in the sky:

the owner built a very larg stately farm-house, like a great hall, which remained untill within the memory of man ; at which time there was plainly seen to come a great sheet of fire from out of Holderness, over the Humber, and to light upon which abbey-house, as they called it, which burnt it all down to the bare ground, with the men in it, and all the corn stacks and buildings about it. The shipmen in the road, and many more observed this sheet of fire to come thus as I have related.

Year: Within a human lifespan prior to 1697.

2. From History of the Holy Trinity Guild at Sleaford, Rev George Oliver, 1837, Chapter 2, page 92, footnote 38, on the destruction of Temple Bruer, Lincolnshire:

... horrible balls of fire breaking out near the foundations, with frequent and reiterated attacks, rendered the place, from time to time inaccessible to the scorched and blasted workmen

This, however, is now invariably affirmed and believed by all, that as they strove to force their way in by violence, the Fire which burst from the foundations of the temple, met and stopped them, and one party burned and destroyed, and another it desperately maimed

Year: Unknown. Before 1837.

3. From Invisible Helpers: Angelic Intervention in Post-Reformation England:

At Aldeburgh in Suffolk in August 1642, for instance, people were astonished by ‘an uncouth noise of war’ (beating drums, firing muskets and discharging ordnance) followed by melodious music played on various instruments and bell-ringing as if in triumph of a signal victory. Interestingly, the iconographical ‘emblem’ of the event John Vicars incorporated in his compilation of this and other ‘warning pieces’ depicted an orchestra of angels perched on a bolster of cloud: this was not a ‘representation’ of what local people had seen so much as an attempt to give visual shape to what they had heard

Year: 1642.

4. The marker for Reach, Cambridgeshire is based on Christopher Marlowe's re-telling of a destructive aerial and flood event in Legends of the Fenland People. See Not the English Civil War.

Year: Unknown. Seemingly before Marlowe's death in 1593 but book includes 19th century additions.

5. Lincolnshire legends of fights in the sky may also capture aspects of these events. They are a part of wider British serpent-conflict folklore. However, Lincolnshire's legends may have been brought into the region by post-catastrophe immigrants. From County Folklore, Vol IV. Lincolnshire, Gutch and Peacock, 1908, Preface, page v:

the only striking characteristic of Lincolnshire folk-lore is its lack of originality. Nearly every superstition and custom of the county appears to be a local variant of something already familiarly known in other parts of the British islands, or beyond their limits.

Year: Unknown. Before 1908.

The arc of sunken churches coincides with a gap in Britain's folklore of serpents, dragons and witches:

A historical grey area. Source: Ice Age Sites of Britain's Serpents - Part Three

The absence of folklore in the arc may be the result of depopulation event.

Lincolnshire's high ground does have serpent conflict folklore but its characters (Bayard/Byard/Bardolph) resembles Huguenot folklore. It may have been imported when the Huegenots repopulated the Fens.

Provisional conjectures:
  • The circles mark the location of several destruction events.

  • The event involved flooding, plasma ('fire') and the creation or movement of very large amounts of sand.

  • Probability of survival increased with distance from the event's epicentre in the south-western Wash.

  • The event obliterated "the highest concentration of Christian abbeys and monastic foundations in England".

  • The circular green 'corridor' identifies the closest survival distance. At this distance from the Wash, enough witnesses and structures survived that we have distorted descriptions of events. Closer to the Wash, too few witnesses survived for accounts to reach us. Similarly, the surviving ruins are closer to rubble unless subsequently rebuilt.

The green circle does not identify a 'corridor' of sunken churches. Many 'sunken churches' lie under the blue circle too.

  • Assessment of survival rates:

    • Red circle: very low to none.
    • Blue circle: very low.
    • Green circle: low.
    • Outside the green circle: poor. Britain's Celtic areas may mark higher survival rates. However, evidence from Cornwall and Devon - and vitrified ruins in Scotland and northern England - suggests not. Despite being some distance from what appears to have been a destruction event, Britain's Celtic north and west offered poor survival rates.

The causative event (or sequence of events) seems to have occurred between King John's alleged calamity in 1216 and the 1642-1651 English Civil War. Floods created The Netherlands' Zuider Zee bay in 1287:

Zuider Zee around 1658. Source

Storms re-arranged England's Kent and Sussex coasts in 1287.

Does that explain the destruction around the Fens, sunken churches around the Wash and reports of fires from the sky?

Dmitry Mylnikov published evidence of a 16th-17th disaster across Eurasia and north Africa. His evidence and analysis are at:

The images in the faster-loading Russian language versions give a sense of the evidence.

© All rights reserved. The original author retains ownership and rights.

  1. While the soul of a medieval Lincolnshire peasant is as important as any other, it is very difficult to explain in religious terms why the Pope invested so much in Lincolnshire's monastic houses. In theory the many large abbeys in this sparsely populated, hard to traverse county would have had no congregation. The monastic houses would have struggled to find enough workers to maintain them, let alone pray in them. Unless the 'houses' fulfilled some other purpose. 

  2. Older registers were lost (or removed) everywhere. That and the 1755 restart of marriage records also shows up in Wales. 

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