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Earthworks of Car Dyke in Park Wood, 175m east of King Street (A15)

A Scheduled Monument in Thurlby, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 52.7314 / 52°43'53"N

Longitude: -0.3647 / 0°21'52"W

OS Eastings: 510521.630349

OS Northings: 316118.615201

OS Grid: TF105161

Mapcode National: GBR GW8.QMK

Mapcode Global: WHGLL.CLLW

Entry Name: Earthworks of Car Dyke in Park Wood, 175m east of King Street (A15)

Scheduled Date: 5 January 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009999

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20813

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Thurlby

Built-Up Area: Thurlby

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Thurlby St Firmin

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes a linear earthwork, approximately 190m in length, which
is a part of the Roman Car Dyke, and is located approximately 175m east of the
Roman road, King Street, on Jurassic clays on the Fen edge. The earthwork
runs north-south, parallel to the road, and is visible as a broad, shallow
channel with banks to either side. The central channel, which has become
silted to a depth of more than 2m, remains open to a width of approximately
12m, and to a depth of approximately 0.7m below the modern ground surface.
The lower levels of infill are known to be waterlogged. The upcast from the
digging of the channel was used to build the banks on either side. The bank
on the western side of the channel survives to a height of approximately
0.85m above the modern ground surface and approximately 1.5m above the Roman
ground surface, and is approximately 20m wide at the base. The bank to the
east, which is cut along its eastern side by a modern drainage dyke running
parallel to it along the edge of Park Wood, has a surviving width of
approximately 5m, and stands to a height of approximately 1m above the modern

Car Dyke is an artificial water channel, thought to have been constructed
around AD125, which ran along the western fen edge from Peterborough to
Lincoln. Excavations on other parts of it have shown that the water channel,
before it became silted, was approximately 15m wide at the top and between 2m
and 4m deep, with sloping sides and a flat bottom. There is some evidence to
suggest that its primary purpose was to serve as a drain to control and divert
flood waters, rather than as a navigable waterway along its entire length,
although shorter sections of it could have been used for water transport.

All boundary fences are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Romano-British canals are artificial water courses which were used for inland
water transport and/or for the control and diversion of flood waters. Their
function as water control systems appears to have been at least as important
as their transport function, and the archaeological evidence currently
available suggest that some may not have been navigable at all, or else only
partly navigable. The construction of the canals appears to follow a fairly
standard pattern. The central channel was dug in a series of straight sections
with angular bends at the junctions, or else produced by straightening and
deepening an existing natural water course. Most canals exhibit both methods
of construction. The upcast from the digging was piled up to form continuous
banks along either side of the channel. Several canals are known to have been
crossed by causeways, some of which may have been original features of the
construction, although some were created by infilling a section of the channel
at a later date. The earliest canals are thought to have been constructed
around AD 60, but most are dated to the second century, around AD 125. It is
not known when their usage ceased. Some were silted and becoming filled with
rubbish by the fourth century AD, but there is documentary and archaeological
evidence that at least one section of the Car Dyke in Lincolnshire was being
used for transport in the 14th century. Only 20 stretches of canal in England
have been identified as being of Roman date and all of these are located in
low-lying Fenland areas of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire where they served
to connect natural waterways or link peninsulas and islands. Although these
canals can often be traced over distances of many kilometres, few sections
display the full range of features. For the most part they have been levelled
by ploughing and are visible only as crop marks or soil marks, or else have
been disturbed by later drainage works. The best surviving and best documented
examples of such sites will merit protection.

Car Dyke is the largest of the known Romano-British canals, and the first to
have been recognized by antiquaries, and it is an important feature of the
Roman landscape in the Fens. Most of its length has, however, been
incorporated in modern drainage systems, and very little of it survives well.
The length of Car Dyke which is preserved as an earthwork in Park Wood is
unusual in its good state of preservation. It will retain archaeological
information concerning the construction and use of the waterway, and organic
material, including both artefacts and evidence for the local environment
during the Roman period, will be preserved in waterlogged deposits in the
central channel. Evidence of land use prior to the construction of the
earthwork will be contained in the soils buried beneath the bank.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Frere, S, Britannia: A History of Roman Britain, (1987)
Clark, J G D, 'Antiquaries Journal' in Report on Excavations on the Cambridgeshire Car Dyke, 1947, , Vol. 29, (1949), 145-164
Hayes, P P, Lane, T M, 'East Anglian Archaeology' in The Fenland Project 5: Lincolnshire Survey, The South West Fens, , Vol. 55, (1992), 24
Simmons, B, 'Britannia' in The Lincolnshire Car Dyke: Navigation Or Drainage?, , Vol. 10, (1979), 183-197
Thorpe, R, Zeffertt, T, 'Fenland Research' in Excavation of the Lincolnshire Car Dyke, Baston, , Vol. 6, (1989), 10-15
Dossier for H B M C, Fenland Evaluation Project: Lincolnshire, (1990)

Source: Historic England

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