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The River Glen is a river in Lincolnshiremarker, Englandmarker with a short stretch passing through Rutlandmarker near Essendinemarker.

The river's name appears to derive from a Brythonic Celtic language but there is a strong early English connection.


In the language of the Romano-Briton, which has come down to us in the form of languages like Welsh, the neighbouring rivers, the Glen and the Wellandmarker seem to have been given contrasting names. The Welland flowed from the geological Northampton sands which in many places are bound together by iron oxide to form ironstone. In the Roman period, the sands were easily worked as arable land and the ironstone was dug for smelting. In both cases, the ground was exposed to erosion which meant that silt was carried down to The Fensmarker by the river. In modern Welsh, gwaelod means bottom and its plural, gwaelodion means sediment. Among the medieval forms of the name 'Welland' is Weolod. Since, in certain grammatical circumstances (soft mutation) the Welsh initial 'G' is lost, the river seems to have been named from its silty nature. In contrast, the Glen flowed from clays and limestone. The former lent themselves to retention as woodland and the latter to grassland for pasture. Consequently, the River Glen did not carry much sediment. The modern Welsh for clean is glân. The relative amounts of silt deposited in the fens around Maxeymarker and around Thurlbymarker respectively, by the two rivers, support this view.


The bend in the river at Guthram Gowt, which will form the junction with the proposed Fens Link.
The river has two sources, both in the low ridge of Jurassic rocks in the west of the county. Its upper reaches go under the names of East and West Glen but sometimes, the East Glen is called the Eden. This is a back-formation from its passing through the parish of Edenham. The two streams flow onto the sand and gravel of the bed of a former periglacial lake of the Devensian glacial. Here, TF095133, , before entering The Fens where the Glen has been embanked and partially straightened. It is navigable for its last 12 miles (19 km), from TF156188, its junction with Bourne Eaumarker at Tongue Endmarker , via Pinchbeck and Surfleet to the tidal entrance sluice on the River Welland at TF280293, navigable only when the tidal level is the same as the river level .


The Nennius text, Historia Britonum, tells us that Arthur, the war leader of the Britons fought his first battle against the Anglo-Saxons the mouth of the River Glein [sic]. People have speculated about the battle's placement in several places, in Northumberlandmarker for example. However, the history of the Lincolnshire site fits the text well. This shows the River Glen at Guthram, halfway between Twenty and West Pinchbeck. To the south, the Roman road across the fen lies hidden, buried in Baston Fen and Pinchbeck Common. In Arthur's time, around the year 500, the north-flowing section of the Glen entered tidal flats lying in Pinchbeck North Fen, to the north-east of Guthram. The line of the river to the east of Guthram appears to have originated as a sea bank but when sedimentation and fen enclosure caused the sea no longer to reach it, the river was led away along the bank so that the sea bank became one of river's banks instead. The section of the A151 road on the 'seaward' side of the Glen was not built until 1822.

Close to the year 500, the spread of Anglish settlement had recently reached Bastonmarker, at the other end of this Roman road, on the landward side of this fen but burial at the Urns Farm cemetery alongside King Streetmarker then stopped abruptly.


While the river is navigable to Tongue End, the upper reaches above Pinchbeck Bars are only suitable for smaller boats, as there are no locations where it is possible to turn a boat which is over long. However, the section of the river from its source to Guthram Gowtmarker forms part of the proposed Fens Waterways Link, which will ultimately link the River Withammarker to the River Nenemarker, via the South Forty-Foot Drainmarker, the River Glen, the River Wellandmarker and some upgraded drains near Peterborough. Phase One, the connection of the South Forty-Foot Drain to The Haven at Bostonmarker by a new lock is scheduled for completion by December 2008, while funding for Phase Two of the project, which will enable the drain to be made navigable from Doningtonmarker to Guthram Gowt, and a connection with the River Glen to be made, has been secured from the East Midlands Development Agency by the Environment Agency of England which is responsible for navigation on these rivers.

See also


  1. Jane Cumberlidge, (1998), Inland Waterways of Great Britain, 7th Ed., Imray Laurie Norie and Wilson, ISBN 0-85288-355-2
  2. IWA Head Office Bulletin - March 2008 - Issue 134
  3. Lincolnshire Waterways Partnership, Newsletter, March 2008

  • Phillips, C.W. The Fenland in Roman Times, (1970) Map 3. and the corresponding part of the gazetteer.
  • British Geological Survey, (solid & drift) 1:50,000 Series, Sheet 144.
  • Mayes, P. & Dean, M.J. An Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Baston, Lincolnshire (1976) ISBN 0-904680-05-3

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