Meres and Mosslands

At the Conquest, the Fylde and land to the south of the Ribble included vast areas of moss land, containing many pools and lakes.  Martin Mere was at one time the largest lowland lake in England, comprising 12 square miles.  These “waste” areas provided important resources for rural communities.  Peat was a valuable source of fuel and reeds were used for thatching and making rushes for candles.  Waterfowl and fish were important sources of food throughout the year and many acres of land were secured as rough grazing for livestock.

The population pressures forced the drier edges of the moss lands to be regarded as potential farmland, and a succession of peat cutting, grazing, drainage improvements and finally ploughing brought many of these marginal moss lands into cultivation.  Often organised by the larger landowners, these works were the precursor of one of the most important long term changes to Lancashire’s landscape, that of wetland drainage. 

Even where the land was not suitable for arable cultivation, it was not wasted, and by the end of the twelth century much of the moss land around the estuary was used for grazing, particularly the Fylde coast (on the north side of the estuary) along with vast areas of salt marsh on the south side

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