Flag Fen – the end of the road?

23 November 2011


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Roman Road still in existenceRoman Road still in existence

At Flag Fen near Peterborough visitors can see not one but two old routes through the fens, both now unused and only newly visible since the 1980s. The main route through the site is a 1 km long wooden trackway that was built in the Bronze Age, between 1350 and 950 BC. A section of this is visible to the public in the Preservation Hall, preserved in situ, with posts indicating where it continues under the surface of todays fen landscape. This trackway dates from a time before Fen drainage when the majority of the area was marsh land. It links the two dry ‘islands’ of Fengate and Northey. It originally consisted of five lines of timber posts that supported the wooden walkway, and it has been estimated that nearly quarter of a million timbers were used in the construction. The rows are not believed to be contemporary to each other, but were replaced as they rotted, over a 400 year period of use.

Flag Fen Iron Age Roundhouse

On the same site and above the level of the Bronze Age trackway is another historical feature, the Fen Causeway, built by the Romans in around the mid 1st century AD, shortly after the Roman invasion of Britain. A small section of this road is visible on the site and a Roman Mosaic and garden has been re-created to reference this aspect of the site’s past.

Roman Mosaic at Flag Fen

It is in fact thanks to the presence of the later Roman road that the earlier Bronze Age site was discovered at all. During the 1980s the area around what is now Flag Fen was developed, and whilst clearing the Mustdyke to look for the known Roman road a timber was found, and this led to the discovery of further timbers and of Flag Fen itself. Today the Roman and Bronze Age worlds come together in events such as the living history weekends.

Posted by Alice Kershaw, Heritage Regeneration Officer, Opportunity Peterborough and Peterborough City Council

  • August 7, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Bloged by surrey fencing

    Hello, thankyou for a really enjoyable article, I don’t by and large post posts but really liked your weblog hence decided say thanks ! – Harriet

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