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The Raw Dykes Roman aqueduct

A Scheduled Monument in Saffron, Leicester

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.6181 / 52°37'4"N

Longitude: -1.1397 / 1°8'22"W

OS Eastings: 458343.458277

OS Northings: 302600.500505

OS Grid: SK583026

Mapcode National: GBR FFR.DC

Mapcode Global: WHDJJ.GGJ8

Entry Name: The Raw Dykes Roman aqueduct

Scheduled Date: 4 December 1924

Last Amended: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017391

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30218

County: Leicester

Electoral Ward/Division: Saffron

Built-Up Area: Leicester

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Leicester The Holy Spirit

Church of England Diocese: Leicester

Details

The monument includes the remains of a Roman aqueduct known as the Raw Dykes
situated immediately west of the junction of Aylestone Road and Saffron Lane,
Leicester.

The monument includes linear earthworks up to 110m in length and orientated on
an approximately north east-south west axis following the 60m contour. The
remains consist of parallel banks defining a flat-bottomed linear depression
approximately 110m in length, a maximum of 20m in width and 2.5m in depth. The
north western bank reaches a maximum height of approximately 4m above ground
level on its western side and is up to 17m in width at its base. The south
eastern bank rises to a height of about 2.5m above the central depression on
its western side but is only approximately 0.6m high on its eastern side due
to a rise in ground level. The Raw Dykes are considered to represent the
remains of a Roman aqueduct or water channel constructed to supply the
settlement of Ratae Corieltauvorum.

The earliest known documentary reference to the earthworks is contained within
the Lord Mayor's accounts for the Borough of Leicester of 1322 which refer to
the `Rowedick'. The etymology is considered to suggest that the name was
originally derived from the linearity of the earthworks, the present form `Raw
Dykes' representing a corruption of this. Numerous references within land
deeds over the following centuries suggest that the earthworks were formerly
far more extensive, an early-17th century account recording that they then
terminated `not five hundred paces from the south gate'. A contemporary diary
kept by a Royalist officer during the Civil War suggests that a section, if
not the complete length of the earthworks, was utilized by the Royalist forces
besieging Leicester in 1645. The earthworks are clearly depicted in an early
18th century engraving, and a subsequent survey and description at the
beginning of the 19th century recorded that sections had been levelled for a
turnpike road and a racecourse. A map of 1885 depicts the Raw Dykes as
continuing for a further 400m northwards of the 110m length visible today,
subsequent development having reduced them to their present length by the
early 20th century. Excavations in 1938 recovered pottery suggesting that the
earthworks were constructed during or immediately after the first century AD
and consisted of banks defining a broad ditch within which was a much narrower
central channel. The layout and nature of the earthworks are considered to
suggest that the narrow cut within the centre of the ditch represented the
main water channel and was designed to increase the flow of water by
concentrating it within a constricted space. In addition the orientation of
the earthworks suggests that the Saffron or Knighton Brook, located
approximately 1km south of the site would have been the most plausible source
of water to feed the aqueduct.

All fences and modern surfacing are excluded from the scheduling although the
ground beneath them is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The Raw Dykes represents a rare survival of a Roman water control feature in
an urban context. It is particularly unusual in that it could not have
operated on the more usual gravity flow principle utilized elsewhere in
Britain, and thus represents a segment of a comparatively complex system which
would have required both intensive labour and considerable engineering skills
to construct. The remains of the Raw Dykes survive well in the form of a
series of substantial earthworks. Since only a small section of the earthworks
have been subjected to archaeological excavation the remainder of the site is
comparatively undisturbed and will therefore retain significant potential for
the survival of buried deposits. As a result of the survival of both
historical and archaeological documentation relating to the site the remains
are quite well understood. The location and accessibility of the Raw Dykes
considerably enhances its function as a public amenity.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Leicester, (1907)
Bateson, M (ed), Records of the Borough of Leicester 1103-1327, (1899)
Bourne, J, Place-names of Leicestershire and Rutland, (1981)
Keay, W, The Raw Dykes, Leicester. A Roman Aqueduct, (1933)
Kenyon, K, Exacavations at the Jewry Wall Site, Leicester, (1948)
Leicestershire Museums Service, , Raw Dykes: A Roman Earthwork, (1995)
Mellor, J E, Memo to R. Rutland, P. Liddle - Rawdykes, (1988)
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, (1810)
Stukeley, W, Itinerarium Curiosum, Volume 1, plate 26, (1766)
Wacher, J, The Towns of Roman Britain, (1974)
Long, C E (ed), 'Camden Society Old Series' in Diary of Marches of Royal Army During Civil War by R. Symonds, , Vol. 74, (1859)
Stephens, G R, 'Britannia' in Civic Aqueducts in Britain, (1985)
Other
Ancient Monuments Record Form, (1920)
Title: Ordnance Survey 25" Series
Source Date: 1885
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Source: Historic England

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