Bourne Archive: BAEM: Dyke Fen                      Latest edit 10 Jun 2010.  

Text, page and picture ©R.J.PENHEY 2010.  

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Dyke Fen, from the Bourne Abbots Estate Map.

This is a detail, in two overlapping parts, covering the area of Dyke Fen in Bourne Parish, taken from the Bourne Abbots Estate Map of 1825.



The contrast in the picture here is enhanced to reveal what in the map itself, is often very faint. This has enhanced the mark passing through William Dove’s field, which appears to have been a continuation of Twenty Drove to its south, included in error and erased.

 The parish of Bourne had three sets of open fields; one set each for Bourne, Cawthorpe and Dyke. Those of Dyke were named Moor, Wath and Nutto fields. Dyke also had its Fen, Meadows and a group of small enclosed fields called Dyke Haws.

Boundaries: In the BAEM, the three former open fields are delineated by a brown line but the other lands such as the Meadows and Fen are not, so the boundaries relevant to the nomenclature are not always obvious. Here, the area to the west of the Scotten Dike, the roughly north-south blue line, is included with the Fen because, apart from Wath Field, it is not named. However, the Exeter Estate Book (EEB) names it as Dyke Meadows. Dyke Fen therefore was bounded in the west by Scotten Dike (which the BAEM names very faintly), in the north by the parish boundary with Morton, which is to say, by New Dike (here unnamed) and in the south by what is here called Bourn New Dike and by Dyke Drove, on the dike’s north bank. Bourne New Dike should not be confused with the modern New Dike, which is the (here unnamed) drain, along the parish boundary with Morton.

Drainage: The Bourn New Dike was the scoured and straightened successor of the Dyke Eau, which flowed naturally from the Eau Well (TF108221). Langley Edwards’ map the Black Sluice drains and watercourses (1765), shows it and Leaves Lake, in Pinchbeck North Fen, on one sinuous line transected by the South Forty Foot Drain, there called ‘The Double Twelves the New Main Drain’. Leaves Lake is there shown as meeting the Hammond Beck squarely and ending. The Bourne New Dike is now fragmented into field drainage rather than draining the whole length of the fen. At its eastern end however, the New Dike and the slightly more sinuous Morton parish boundary clearly reflect its former course. The Google Maps satellite photograph viewed on 31 May 2010 showed it in the process of being culverted towards the Engine Drain near Guthram Gowt (TF169223).

Land management: The lands to the south of Dyke Fen are Gobbold’s Park and Bourne North Fen. The drove parallel with the Scotten Dike is named by BAEM as Caldecott’s Drove. The six fields to its west and against Scotten Dike were held copyhold of Bourne Abbots, as was the small one in the corner of Dorothy Compton’s field (the one in which the I of DIKE appears). The round spot in the corner of that field of Dorothy Compton is a fault in the skin on which the map is drawn.

Soil: The soils which are now present in Dyke Fen extend from designation 1024b, fen peat over glacio-fluvial drift at the western end, via 851a, marine alluvium and fen peat, to 813g, marine alluvium including clay and, at the very eastern tip, 812b, deep stoneless calcareous, coarse marine alluvium (Soil Map). In other words, it appears to extend across the former fen to the former salt marsh and just to the inland edge of the Holland Townlands soil formed by an energetic environment of marine creeks.

The Geological Survey gives a more detailed picture. The fen peat is Nordelph peat on Barroway Drove beds which include the coarser longitudinally disposed deposits of a former large tidal creek. Towards the sea, this has been overlain by the younger, Terrington beds. All these are Flandrian deposits. Dyke Fen continues eastwards onto the late Devensian marine deposits, abbey sand and gravel. The Devensian deposits appear as an ‘island’ rising through the later ones, left by creek and marine marsh.

Hayes and Lane (pp.130-142) put this geological information into more detailed archaeological terms. By the Roman period, Dyke Fen was freshwater wetland with a turbary extending from the north, onto William Dove’s large (84 acre), triangular field at the eastern end of Dyke Fen (FIRT Map 3).

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