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Faesten Dic, a medieval frontier work in Joydens Wood

A Scheduled Monument in Joydens Wood, Kent

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4239 / 51°25'26"N

Longitude: 0.1593 / 0°9'33"E

OS Eastings: 550225.420348

OS Northings: 171647.169161

OS Grid: TQ502716

Mapcode National: GBR S1.2TG

Mapcode Global: VHHNZ.QG2R

Entry Name: Faesten Dic, a medieval frontier work in Joydens Wood

Scheduled Date: 14 January 1955

Last Amended: 31 October 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012979

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27006

County: Kent

Electoral Ward/Division: Joydens Wood

Built-Up Area: Bexley

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Church of England Parish: Joydens Wood St Barnabas

Church of England Diocese: Rochester

Details

The monument, which falls into two areas, includes an Anglo-Saxon frontier
work known as Faesten Dic, or `The Strong Dyke', which runs across a now
wooded area of undulating sandy gravel situated on the south eastern slope of
the Cray valley.

The dyke, which survives as a roughly north-south aligned, linear earthwork,
takes the form of a series of connected, zigzagging ditches and banks with a
total length of c.1.67km. The most heavily defended sections lie on the higher
ground towards the southern and northern ends of the monument and comprise a
large, originally V-shaped ditch up to 8m wide. This has become partially
infilled over the years, but remains visible to a depth of up to 2m in places.
The ditch is flanked to the east by a low bank up to c.10.5m wide and c.0.5m
high, and to the west by a slight counterscarp bank around 3.5m high and
c.0.4m wide. Around 720m from its southern end, the dyke dips down into a
steep narrow valley, across which the earthworks take the form of a low bank,
interpreted as the original site of a fence or hedge, c.1.5m wide and 0.2m
high. At a point around 270m from the northern end of the monument, the dyke
zigzags sharply to the south east and north east, and the earthworks here
survive as a large bank c.2.5m wide and up to 1.5m high, the form of which has
been partially modified over the years by subsequent agricultural activity. No
ditch is visible in this area. The dyke has also been partially disturbed in
places by the construction of later tracks and woodland boundary banks. The
earthworks originally continued to the north east beyond the present bounds of
Joydens Wood, but this section has been destroyed by modern development and
cultivation.

Faesten Dic is thought to have been constructed between the fifth and sixth
centuries AD during which time the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records tribal
warfare in the Bexley area. The dyke is also mentioned in an Anglo-Saxon
boundary survey of AD 814. Partial excavation in 1941 revealed the existence
of a narrow, buried layer of gravel immediately to the east of the bank,
interpreted as an associated military walkway.
The surfaces of all metalled tracks, and the modern fences which cross the
monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these
features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A small number of substantial and defensible boundary features have been
identified as frontier works marking territories in the early medieval period.
Up to 50 examples are known with a fairly wide distribution across England,
including examples in southern England, East Anglia, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and
along the Welsh border.
Identified remains extend over distances from as little as 300m up to as much
as 240km in the case of Offa's Dyke. They survive in the form of earthworks
and as buried features visible as cropmarks or soilmarks on aerial
photographs. They appear often to have been constructed across the natural
grain of the landscape and, although many examples consisted of a single bank
and flanking ditch, to vary considerably in their form and dimensions, even
along different stretches of the same boundary, depending upon local
topography.
Evidence from contemporary documentary sources, excavation and survey suggests
that they were constructed in the early medieval period between the fifth and
eighth centuries AD. Some were relatively ephemeral, perhaps in use for only a
few years during periods of local strife; others, such as Offa's Dyke,
constructed between Wales and Mercia, have formed long-lived territorial
and/or military boundaries in use for several centuries.
As a rare monument type of considerable importance to the study of early
medieval territorial patterns, all surviving examples are identified as
nationally important.

Although it has been partially disturbed by tree roots and subsequent
agricultural and forestry activity, the medieval frontier work in Joydens Wood
survives well as a substantial, visually impressive landscape feature. Partial
excavation has confirmed the survival of archaeological remains and
environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it
was constructed.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Hogg, AHA, 'Archaeologia Cantiana' in Earthworks in Joydens Wood, Bexley, Kent, , Vol. 54, (1941), 11-27

Source: Historic England

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