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These fascine mattresses were still being used in the late 90's. I shipped stone from Norway to the island Neeltje Jans in Zeeland where the stone was layered on top of reed matting to line the sea bottom adjacent to the tidal barriers. I also shipped stone to Maasvlakte in Rotterdam Harbour where it was used the same way.

Mike Gzunda


I heard Ely cathedral UK was built on foundations of "bundles of rushes" laid on the soft wet boggy ground but willow branches sounds more likely. Best, Mike Gzunda

Archive Enthusiast


What are these called in dutch, and specifically the traditional ones without geotextiles? I had trouble visualizing the article, but the best I could find was a youtube video of the installation of a will fascine mat with geotextiles. I'm providing a Wayback Link for reference stability.

Also, maybe you already do this, but going forward would you consider archiving your links at Wayback Machine? I was reading some of your older articles and noticed some of the reference links were now dead, and it's a real pity because you've done such excellent research that will stand the test of time!



Interesting and detailed article as always Kris.

I have been involved in making fascines out of coppiced wood in England. As I understand it, they are used for riverbank reinforcment and are staked out parellel to the river flow, close to the banks, collecting silt and allowing plants to establish themselves there. There is still quite a large demand for these. Interestingly the main stipulation is that no willow is included. I think this is because the willow would root and sprout and would dominate the river bank.

I grew up on the somerset levels (drained peat bog) and was told that the roads that cross it were built on top of brushwood causeways to prevent them sinking. Nearby there was the Iron age Glastonbury lake villages which were built on artificial islands made from clay and stone over brushwood.



More comments at hackernews & metafilter:


Also some links to a Dutch company that still makes classical fascine mattresses:



@ Archive Enthusiast

In Dutch they are called "zinkstukken".

Judith Martin


This is a most brilliant article, thank you so much.
Two things: I’m very ready to believe Ely Cathedral was built on reeds or withys - both would grow in the fens. Mind you, the octagon tower did fall down at one point. Also Winchester Cathedral (built about 1070) was built on bundles of straw, which I always imagine being like hay bales. The high water table kept the oxygen out so they were preserved. But sadly the ground moved and in the 19th century part of it had to be underpinned. A chap in a diver’s suit, William Walker, spent many months underwater, directing pumped concrete.

Also, I have a project in mind (not far from Winchester Cathedral) that could perhaps use fascine mattresses. Could you please put me in touch with Peat who says s/he’s worked with them in England? It needs to be super-eco so actually growing our reinforcements couldn’t be better.

with very many thanks and best wishes
Judith Martin



Link to article doesn't work and neither does the link to the solar powered site :(

kris de decker


@ AB

My apologies. The solar powered website goes offline when the weather is bad.



The Solar Powered Website is annoying to read, because of the background staying in place as you scroll the text over it.

To improve readebility either have a single colour backrgound or make the background scroll with the text.

kris de decker


@ zifro

If you visit the website between 11 and 5 pm local time (Barcelona, CET) you will most likely see a single colour background.

Another way to read the article with a single colour background is to right click on the page and then choose "print". You will get a PDF of the article.



@ zifro

You could save the article to Pocket and read it there. You thus choose your own background and font.



Hi Kris, about this "traditional fascine mattresses extract carbon from the atmosphere and store it on the seafloor for a couple of centuries" : isn't there any issue related to methane emissions due to plants decomposition?
There has been papers describing this process in dams' reservoirs. The vegetation is not the same, but I wonder if the same process happened there with fascines.

James Garfield


This "documentary" from 1963 (also) shows deploying this kind of "mattress", in Hungary. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0170693

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