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The Effects of Longshore Drift

Longshore Drift

In a recent post of mine I provided a link that explained the action of longshore drift. Although it’s not something most people notice or care about, it has profoundly changed the coastline in Sussex and the economic prospects of Hastings and the surrounding area.

There are three large stone castles along the coast here, Pevensey Castle near Eastbourne, Hastings Castle and Camber Castle. All three were built to protect landing areas and ports. Hastings and Rye in particular were key trade and military ports between 1066 and 1300 due to their proximity to France. Both towns would have been rich and of high status. What would they be like now if their harbours hadn’t silted up?

All though the great storms that occured in the 12th century contibuted greatly to their demise, the slow and steady work of longshore drift sealed their fate.

Look at those castles now on Google Maps, particularly Pevensey and Camber, and you can how far they are from the sea.

Longshore Drift

These photos show how the sea acts upon the shingle. Splash, drag and push is all it does, and through such work changes the fortunes of communities.

5 responses to “The Effects of Longshore Drift”

  1. Ro avatar

    Although I have lived in Hastings for most of my life, I never get tired of the sound of the sea – the drawn-out “whoosh” of the waves and then the “tch tch tcshhh” of the shingle being dragged back. It’s interesting when you walk along the “front” (as locals call the long promenade) when the tide is going out, here and there – if you look carefully – you can see little waders who take advantage of the retreating tide to snap up any choice tidbits uncovered by the movement of the shingle. It’s especially noticeable where there’s only a thin layer of shingle over sand, and is quite charming to see how these small birds follow the waves out, peck at the uncovered food item, and then rapidly retreat, reaching safety just in time to avoid a dousing.

    I think in these pictures you have almost captured the sound of the waves. Well done!

  2. Mick Pelling avatar
    Mick Pelling

    An act of parliament in 1722 allowed for the construction of a new harbour for Rye.

    It was built at what is now the small village of Winchelsea Beach. It took 63 years to build, and was closed in 1787,shortly after it was opened, moviement of shingle ….long shore drift was the culprit.

    When visiting Winchelsea Beach today, entering at Dogs Hill Road, the size of this harbour is immediately comes into view it is now a playing field, with a football pitch.

    On the sea wall is a plaque,explaining about the harbour, and at low tide, part of the wooden structure of the harbour entrance is visible .

    A few large blocks of stone are close by, also part of the harbour. Masons marks can be seen on these stones.

  3. compellingphotography avatar

    Thank you for the comments!

  4. […] To see the difference 120 years makes compare this picture to this one here. That’s what longshore drift does. 50.853054 0.592345 Like this? Please share!TwitterFacebookDiggLinkedInStumbleUponRedditLike […]

  5. […] The Dungeness fore land has been growing for around 5,000 years as gravel began to build up on the sandy beaches that used to exist, similar to those found down at Camber Sands. If you take a look at an satellite map of the land, you can see the shingle build up. The grey areas starting on the left are the old shingle shorelines, interspaced with green areas where silts and clays were deposited with tidal movement. The age of the land gets younger as you move from West to East. Where the green areas go back to grey, this probably indicates historical breaching of the natural beaches and barriers around Rye Bay, causing tonnes of shingle and sand to move eastwards, via longshore drift. […]

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