Rob Turner is currently the Resident Armchair Artist at The Beaney in Canterbury.
Not the March just gone, the year before, that will be 2014 we had amazing floods and the river Stour and large swathes of lowland areas in Kent were flooded for several weeks. I now realise these low-lying areas I had trouble navigating on my bike rides because there was so much water, were once covered with water before, as this was part of the long gone Wantsum Channel. The Wantsum Channel was the stretch of water that separated The Isle of Thanet from the rest of Kent.
What brought this into focus for me was coming across the Gough Map, (to view click here) this is kept at the Bodliean Library in Oxford, I have never seen it but found it on the internet. It is thought to be the earliest map of UK ever made about 1360. What is really odd about it is that Kent is at the top and Wales at the bottom with Scotland way over to the left, as if the whole of the UK is laying down on its stomach! You can zoom in and have a good look at places you know to see what was represented there , I went straight to Canterbury and saw Kent represented as a cluster of Islands! That’s when I went…. ‘Oh yeh,…. Grain…. Sheppey…. and Thanet’. So then I researched the Wantsum Channel in more detail, already being very familiar with Reculver and its location and role as a Roman fort and site of a Monastery etc.
So I have drawn a map of what I think the Wantsum Channel looked like. There are a few out there already on the internet and in the local studies section of the Beaney library . I have placed the towns and rivers on the map to help visualise where it was.
This was my first draught as it were, a master copy for subsequent maps. I have decided to ride my bike along the channel and record the event on these residency blogs.