Car Dyke – Evidence & Finds
The course of Car Dyke was shown on the 1st edition one-inch Ordnance Survey map of 1824; it is visible in aerial photographs along parts of its route; and in some sections it remains as a minor waterway.
Its junction with the Nene is confused in that the river has been heavily canalised and re-routed since Roman times. It seems likely that it would have joined at approximately the same place as the Cat’s Water Drain just east of the Frank Perkins Parkway bridge over the Nene.
It ran north between Eastgate and Fengate then through “Burgh Park” between the current sites of Perkins Engines and the City of Peterborough Academy north of Padholme Road. The next current day evidence of the dyke is a slight depression to the west side of Eye Road, where mature weeping willows in front gardens provide an extra clue.
The Fengate Post Mill on the west side of Car Dyke operated from the early 1700s to 1903
Willows in a depression at the side of Eye Road
The waterway then follows the contours north-east towards Eye where it loops back to the west. A new bridge was constructed over the Dyke in 2012 to carry the A16 to Spalding. The dyke marks the north-east boundary of Peterborough as it skirts Gunthorpe and Werrington before heading towards Peakirk.
The visible course is lost in Peakirk but recent archaeological work has identified its route across the village green before looping west and then north along Northborough’s fen edge. The surviving earthworks to the south of Peakirk measure 4m wide by 1.5m deep while those to the north-west measure between 3-5m wide by 0.75m deep.
Car Dyke – north-west of Peakirk
Between Northborough and Deeping its route is marked on maps and it was exposed during the Time Team excavation of a causewayed enclosure in 2004.
Geophysical survey showing canal cutting through a Neolithic enclosure
Car Dyke must have run north to north west from the Welland on approximately the line of Godsey Lane, but there is no clear trace south of Towngate Outgang. Beyond, a ditch with a definite bank to the east continues into Langtoft parish.
At Langtoft Hall, geophysical survey of the area immediately west of the moat in 1991 located a sand bank parallel to the garden wall – probably a remnant of the Roman waterway.
Excavations south of Baston in 1990 identified three profiles of the Car Dyke. Its depth at this point was 3.8 metres, and it was fifteen metres wide at the buried ground level, and the bed was 5.5 metres wide. A sherd of early medieval pottery was recovered from the higher fills of the ditch which suggests that the Car Dyke was still useable and relatively clear at least into early Anglo Saxon times.
Excavation at Manor Pit, Baston, 1990, showing section through Car Dyke
Route, Context & Excavated Sections of Car Dyke – Image Credit, David Hopkins