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THE EROSION OF THE HOLDERNESS COAST. By J. R. BOYLE, ESQ., F.S.A.

 

Canon Isaac Taylor, in his paper on "The Ploughland and the Plough," has conclusively proved that in Domesday Book two- and three-field manors are distinguishable by the relative numbers of carucates and ploughs. In three-field manors the average number of ploughs is equal to half the Number of carucates, whilst in two-field manors the number of ploughs and carucates as a rule is the same. The same writer has also shewn that, in Yorkshire at least, the carucate is a definite measure of arable land. The Domesday measurements formed the basis of taxation, and as in a two-field manor, in any year, only half the arable land was in culture, it follows that the Domesday measurements in such cases represent only one half of the actual arable area. In three-field manors, on the other hand, as only one field lay fallow, the Domesday measurements represent two-thirds of the whole arable area. Canon Taylor has further shewn that the amount of arable land in a Yorkshire manor, at the time of the survey, was practically identical with the extent of such land at the period of enclosure.

 

Easington, Holmpton, Tunstall and Colden were evidently two-field townships.

 

In Easington there were 15 carucates of land to be taxed. This gives 30 carucates in the two fields, equal to 2,400 acres. At the enclosure, 1770, the township contained 1,300 acres of arable land, 1,100 acres baying been washed away by the sea since the time of Domesday.

 

In Holmpton there were 8 carucates in one field, which for the two fields gives 1,280 acres. At the enclosure, 1,800, there were 900 acres of arable land, 380 acres having been lost since 1086.

 

In Tunstall there were 7 carucates in soke to Kilnsea, and 1 carucate in soke to Withernsea, or 8 in all, equal to 1,280 acres in the two fields. At the enclosure, 1770, there were 800 acres of arable land, 480 acres having been washed away.

 

In Colden there were 12 carucates equal to 1920 acres in the two fields. At the enclosure, 1770, there were 1,100 acres, leaving 800 which had been lost since 1086.

 

It may be fairly assumed (1) that taking a considerable number of townships, the average relation between the area of arable and other land would not greatly vary, and therefore (2) that the loss of arable land in the coast townships of Holderness will indicate to a fairly accurate extent the loss of other land. Adopting the data for the determination of Domesday areas above indicated, it is possible to compare the extent of arable land in four coast townships of Holderness in the year of the survey, A. D. 1086 and say the year 1800:

 

………………… 1086. ……….1800.

Easington .........   2,400 acres 1,300 acres.

Holmpton .......... 1,280 acres    900 acres

Tunstall ............. 1,280 acres    800 acres

Colden .............. 1,920 acres 1.100 acres

 

The coast townships of Holderness now contain 33,468 acres. Assuming that the waste of other kinds of land has been equal to the arable in the other townships besides the four above named, the sea has carried away 22,694 acres, or over 35 square miles. The coast of Holderness from Barmston to Kilnsea is 34½ miles long. If the lost land is assumed to have been carried away to an equal extent throughout this distance, .it accounts for the loss of a strip 1,809 yards, or a little over one mile wide, or at the rate of 7 feet 1 inch per annum. If the denudation from the period of the Roman occupation of Britain has gone on at the same ratio, 53,318 acres, or about 83 square miles, equal to a strip ½ miles wide, have been lost.

 

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