As a child one of my favourite seaside pursuits was attempting to defend patches of beach from the incoming tide with sand walls. A similar, but more rewarding endeavour was being pursued by the Medieval inhabitants of Romney Marsh. Land had been progressively reclaimed from the tidal estuary formed in the shelter of the coastal shingle barrier. Gradually the saltmarshes behind the coastal shingle barrier were turned into farmland. In the thirteenth century, however the sea smashed through the shingle barrier near Rye, causing serious flooding.
The evidence of this battle with the sea remains today in the miles of counterwalls such as this one, part of the Great Wall which defended the south-western boundary of Walland Marsh in the late thirteenth century.