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Historic Timber-built Seacoast Piers of Eastern England: Technological, Environmental and Social Contexts

Johnson, Mark Stiles (2015) Historic Timber-built Seacoast Piers of Eastern England: Technological, Environmental and Social Contexts. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

The aim of this thesis is to initially establish the existence of a class of monument, the timber-built seacoast pier, which has heretofore received virtually no investigation by archaeologists and been merely briefly referred to by a handful of historians. Data sources for this topic are diverse and include documentary sources, material remains, cartographic and pictorial evidence, coastal geomorphology and place-names. Investigation is perforce multi-disciplinary. This study will show that such structures were once quite widespread within the study area of eastern England, and indeed further afield. These structures were far from identical and the varying technical forms of the piers are determined and explanations sought to account for these. The physical backdrop to these piers was the varied and dynamic coastal environment of the eastern seaboard of the North Sea and it is not possible to gain a broad understanding of the piers without reference to this environment. Timber-built seacoast piers required enormous resources to construct. They were regularly subject to damage and destruction and they were costly to maintain. Given such circumstances, communities often struggled to maintain their piers. Occasionally, their resources expended, this battle was lost. More often they limped on, saved by appeal to the wider community, county or crown. The lengths to which communities were prepared to go in order to safeguard their piers demonstrates the enormous value attached to them by the communities and bodies to whom they belonged. Piers came to be important items of infrastructure that were essential to the well being of many local economies and in the meshing together of these with wider economies, regional, national and international. Whilst the technology of seacoast piers is of some intrinsic interest, perhaps the greatest potential of this topic lies in the social and economic spheres.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Timber-built, Seacoast, Pier, Technology, Environment, Social
Academic Units: The University of York > Archaeology (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.660091
Depositing User: Mr Mark Stiles Johnson
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2015 08:20
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2016 13:33
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9483

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