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This book brings to public attention some of the most evocative and threatened features of the landscape of southern England. Water meadows work with nature to improve agricultural productivity, whilst providing rich habitats for wildlife such as water voles, waders and grass snakes. They are areas of low-lying grassland which are regularly `drowned' - artificially irrigated - at certain times of the year, to stimulate the early growth of grass in the spring. Only a few remain in operation today, though they played a crucial role in Britain's past farming economy. Their archaeological remains can be found all over southern England, with Hampshire and Wiltshire having perhaps the best surviving examples.
In this book leading archaeologists and scientists - together with one of the last practising `drowners' - explore the ecology and history of water meadows. They ask when and where the art of `floating' originated, and explain its hydrology. They also investigate water meadows' conservation status and potential for the future.