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


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Earthworks of Car Dyke in Park Wood, 175m east of King Street (A15)
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Kesteven (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TF 10522 16116

Reasons for Designation

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.


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 surface.

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.

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


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


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)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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