On The Level About Lincolnshire - Part Two

The Wash. Short for Ground Zero. Tue 30 May 2023

Sunset over the Wash, England. Source: The Wash/Kim Barker

St Enodoc's church looks half buried:

And in the middle of nowhere. Source: St Enodoc’s Church: A Church Buried Under the Sand

It is a mile away from its nearest congregation, the village of Rock. And further from the next nearest congregation, the village of Trebetherick.

From St Enodoc's Church, Trebetherick:

From the sixteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century, the church was virtually buried by the dunes and was known locally as "Sinking Neddy" or "Sinkininny Church".

St Enodoc was dug out of the sand in 1863.

Sand still looms over it:

View from the south east. Source: St Enodoc’s Church: A Church Buried Under the Sand

From St Enodoc Church:

the clergyman had to gain entrance through a skylight, made especially for that task. The south porch is the only entrance to this church, so that must have been buried in sand.

They mean this entrance:

St Enodoc's south porch. Source: Google Maps

Remains of another building have been found under nearby Brea Hill - another sand hill. Perhaps the sands around St Enodoc cover many other lost structures. A settlement lost beneath the sand would explain why St Enodoc was built in the middle of nowhere.

Historians blame the Atlantic for 'sinking' St Enodoc. They say Atlantic winds covered the church with sand blown from north Cornwall's nearby coast. 1

However, about the same time sand was covering St Enodoc - between the 16th and 19th centuries - patches of sand were covering parts of eastern England.

One patch covered much of Santon Downham, a village in Suffolk. The sand's height is marked by a brown brick inserted into the tower of Santon Downham's Church of St Mary:

The brick is 6m (20ft) high. Source: Santon Downham St Mary

Santon Downham is a long way from St Enodoc. And it is not on the Atlantic coast.

It's not on any coast:

St Enodoc's left; St Mary's right.

Accounts of Santon Downham's 'sand flood' are eye-opening. The BBC interview in Desert Islands of Eastern England discusses some of the details and evidence left by Santon Downham's sand flood.

Santon Downham St Mary's is a little taller than St Enodoc. But it was also made unusable by being covered to about the same height. About half way up its roof:

St Mary's door would also have been covered. Source: Santon Downham St Mary's Church

Something like this:

Did it sink? Or did the ground rise?

Santon Downham isn't the only eastern England church that 'sank'. It's one of 11 reported 'sunken churches' in eastern England.

Their locations present us with an under-investigated enigma:

It's a geologic cluster.


  • Red marker: Documented 'sunken' church
  • Orange marker: Legend of 'sunken' church

Folklore claims sunken churches 'disappeared into the ground'.

In four documented cases, the ground rose around the church. Two of these we know about: Sand floods over St Enodoc in Cornwall and over Santon Downham in Suffolk.

We also know north Lincolnshire's sunken church legend was deliberately changed into dragon 'folklore' in around 1911. Along with the village's name.

And we know Cumbria's Black Coombe sunken church site is covered by an 'ancient' stone circle today. A stone circle no different to any other fake stone circle.

These are just obvious efforts to smudge folk memories of sunken churches. To uncover the secret they really hide, we can look more closely at eastern England's arc of sunken churches.

If the arc has a centre point, drawing diagonals and finding their midpoints may show us roughly where it is:

Midpoints suggest a more westerly centre to the arc.


  • Black marker: Midpoints of line between opposite sunken church locations

The midpoints cluster near each other.

The Dragonby - Lidgate 'diagonal' doesn't look like a diagonal. From here on we'll ignore it.

The five remaining midpoints have a centre about a two kilometres (a mile or so) beyond the River Nene's outfall.

Let's unclutter the map:

Approximate centre of east England's 'sunken church' reports.


  • Blue marker: Averaged centre-of-arc

How does this centre relate to 'sunken church' reports?

We draw two circles:

Churches sank - or the ground rose - between the green and white circles.


  • Blue marker: Centre of white and green circles
  • White circle: Inner edge of sunken churches zone.
  • Green circle: Outer edge of sunken churches zone.

All eastern England's known 'sunken church' reports come from between the green and white circles. The distance between the two circles is 26 miles:

  • White circle diameter: 112km (69 miles)
  • Green circle diameter: 200km (124 miles)
  • Width of 'corridor' between circles: 44km (26 miles)

To draw this, we had to nudge the centre of the circles a little. Their centre is now 2.8km (1.7 miles) south-west of our first estimate. The first estimate was averaged from sparse data so we expect to do this.

All but one of eastern England's sunken church reports come from the outer half of the 'corridor' between the green and white circles. 10 out of 11 of them.

It's easy to see this if we divide the sunken church 'corridor' with another circle:

Ten churches sank - or the ground rose - in a 13-mile wide corridor.


  • White circle: Inner edge of sunken churches zone.
  • Green circle: Outer edge of sunken churches zone.
  • Blue circle: Centre of sunken churches zone.

All sunken church locations except for one lie between the blue circle and the green circle. The exception is sand-flooded St Mary's Church in Santon Downham, Suffolk.


  • Blue circle diameter: 156km (97 miles)
  • 'Corridor' of sunken churches between blue and green circles: 22km (13 miles)

If you were searching eastern England for more sunken church reports, you might check this 13-mile wide arc first.

The Fens are the site of another partial circle: the transitions visible on the British Geological Survey's map of superficial Fenland geology:

Sand in the face of conventional geology. Source: British Geological Survey

This image is from On the Level About Lincolnshire - Part One. Which asks:

  • Why should changes in Fenland geology look like part of a circle?
  • How does any multi-mile geological formation closely follow part of a circle?

Perhaps at some time, Fenland flooding - or even Fenland draining - created a whirlpool.

To investigate, we superimpose the geological red circle on the map of sunken churches:

A four-ring mystery.


  • White circle: Inner edge of sunken churches zone.
  • Green circle: Outer edge of sunken churches zone.
  • Blue circle: Second inner edge of sunken churches zone.
  • Red circle: Change in near-surface geology shown on British Geological Survey map.


  • Red circle diameter: 62km (39 miles)

It turns out the red circle shares its centre with the centre of the arc of sunken churches.

Why would an arc that relates to geology share the same centre as an arc of reports of sunken churches?

Looking again at the British Geological Survey's map, the formations to the west and north of the Fens look more weirdly circular than the geological formations to the south east of the Fens.

Similarly, the destruction of buildings seems to have been worse to the north and west:

Bardney Abbey, Lincolnshire. Source: Bardney Abbey

The British Geological Survey's geology map suggests the events that created the geological transitions along the red circle were stronger in the west of the Fens and weaker in the south-east.

The scale of destruction to Lincolnshire's monastic houses seems to support this notion.

It might also explain Santon Downham's sand flood was so well-recorded. If there were more survivors to the south and east, then their witness reports had a better chance of propagating into written records.

Known accounts Witham valley flooding suggest there was a grand-scale flood event shortly before the 19th century.

Conventional Fenland history also prefers to blame the destruction on the Civil War and severe storms.

Eastern England coversands and a range of other evidence suggest there was much more to these events than just flood.


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

  1. Evidence of a 1607 tsunami in the Severn Estuary is not currently considered among explanations for the sand. Despite its timing. See also: When the Sea Flooded Britain, Steve Mitchell, 2005 

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