Bourne Archive: BAEM: The Heg
http://boar.org.uk/ghiwxs7BAEM(pic5Heg.htm Latest edit 1 Jan 2011.
Text, page and picture ©R.J.PENHEY 2008.
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The Heg at Dyke, from the Bourne Abbots Estate Map of 1825.
This is a detail, covering the area of the Heg, south of Dyke, taken from the Bourne Abbots Estate Map of 1825.
It seems possible that the names Car and Heg have the same meaning but with origins in the Brythonic and Germanic language families respectively. Compare the modern Welsh caer (a fort), lle caeëdig (an enclosure) and cae (a field) or the English hedge, respectively. Each of these words embraces the concept of an enclosing boundary (Geiriadur Newydd & OED). Two of the three Anglo-Saxon words for ‘hedge’, given by Pollington are haga and hega but his words for concepts such as ‘enclosure’, ‘boundary’ and ‘fencing’ are distinctly different. However, the St. John’s College Forest site glossary of medieval land use terms, under hay, gives the Old English meaning of haga as ‘enclosure generally’.
‘hay’ form of ‘heg’ is easily explicable.
The other Brythonic languages, Cornish and Breton are more influenced than Welsh is by the languages of their neighbours but ‘to fence in’ can be expressed in Breton, as kaea or kêa (Garnier: enclore), kael may be a fence, wall, railings or hedge, depending on the material used (Garnier: kae & Collins: clôture) and the act of enclosing may be kaea or kaela, while he who does the enclosing is kaeour (Garnier: clôturer). In Cornish, ‘to enclose’ is keas (Morton Nance: enclose) and the noun ‘hedge’ is ke (Morton Nance: hedge). Thus even where the vocabulary of these languages is in the Brythonic pattern they both, the Cornish particularly, offer less clear support for the hypothesis than Welsh does. Nonetheless, they do offer some.
The application of the car and heg names to the archaeological feature, the Car Dyke would imply that their use is old: dating from a time when the dyke’s significance as a boundary of a Roman imperial estate in The Fens was still remembered. That this part of it serves also as a catchwater drain would seem to have been regarded as of lesser significance when names were allocated.
Given the correctness of the enclosure line of argument as an explanation of the Car and Heg names, the Brythonic name can hardly refer to anything much later than the Roman use of the dyke. On the other hand, the use of ‘heg’ may arise from a translation of ‘car’ when Anglian settlers spread their influence into the area from the north, in the fifth or sixth century but it may refer to the dyke’s twelfth century use under Henry I, as the western boundary of his royal forest. See a brief description of the forest’s boundaries, from the Parliamentary Gazetteer of 1841 and a map of Kesteven Forest, from the forest research of St. John’s College.