Caught by the River

Field Notes

17th June 2022

An extract from Maxim Peter Griffins ‘Field Notes: Walking the Territory’ — a book of words and artworks that capture a year spent on foot in the Lincolnshire landscape, newly published by Unbound.

Look – out there under the roof of the North Sea – Doggerland.

All this from here to the next land east was a green territory – delta, marshland, hill country- not long ago – 10,000 years perhaps, since the last glacial maximum – no time at all under the arc of the stars – all those Mesolithics lived out there, after the ice, worked the game – red deer, proto-ox, mammoth – bone-tipped lances ready. From here to the wind farms there were chalk cliffs, then clay, and clay is where forests grew – pine and birch, mixed deciduous – birdsong under the sea.

But nothing is fixed. Change is certain. The ocean will have us all – good.

Water came creeping in – perhaps there were attempts at management – ditches and proto dykes, maybe they worked – for a while.

Marsh became swamp became lake became delta became impassable became unliveable until the uncertain borders joined with whatever those families called the saltwaters that came. The floods were beyond imagining.

Imagine the midges. Smaller mammals living off the festering marrow of red deer cadaver.

People moved with the food – same as it ever was – moved to the upland, where meat could be managed in the valleys the ice left behind.

A population in slow migration – 6,000 years ago – in the folk memory of the ghost mammoth.

Fishing boats on occasion bring evidence of these lives – there are footprints of past children in the mud – beyond the amusements, beyond Mablethorpe, there are petrified forests – birch stumps in the clay.

Look – now, or near enough – the last hundred years – another migrant population heading the other way – Golden Sands, bingo, an entertainment, a cheap week, somewhere to retire, to wait on death. This is not a bad thing. Mablethorpe in high summer thrall is, in its own odd way, glorious. There was one night, June in the millennium year – 10,000 gathered to give witness as illuminations were switched on by the Chuckle Brothers – the call and response, the height of their powers

– to me, to you

– to me, to you.

And the carnival queen was there in flowers and white, gifted to them and all 10,000 faced toward Doggerland.

Barry and Paul offered their touch as faith healers would.

To me.

To you.

A two-headed god.

And the sun fell and rippling stars hung from the amusements and the chips stank all vinegar and salt and it was beautiful.


‘Field Notes’ is out now and available here (£12.08).

Peruse the archive of Maxim Peter Griffin’s drawings and writings for Caught by the River here.