What did the Angles, Saxons and Jutes do to the native English?

Nov 2008
1,402
England
To be honest, I had never heard of the Car Dyke until it was discussed here.

To my surprise it is huge - 12 to 17 metres wide, 3.6 to 4.4 metres deep and 92 km long. Its volume is 3.3 m cu metres and by comparison Offa's Dyke is (only) 0.8 m cu metres. It is easily the biggest, longest ditch in England - vallum at Hadrian's Wall is 1.3 m Cu metres.

Clearly there is no chance that it was constructed by the A-S in 5 or 6th Century.

I am grinding my way through Storr's book but I can not help asking why this and other dykes could not have been constructed with certain purpose in mind eg water transport or drainage in the case of Car Dyke and then found a second use as military tripwire.

If you study the maps in Storr`s book, and also other maps and details of how much the coastal region of Lincolnshire was partially underwater at that time, you will see as Storr said that the dyke was indeed defensive and superbly situated. Clearly it wasn`t a transport canal, being too close for comfort to attention from Saxon pirates. Moreover, it would not have been needed as a transport system simply because, as Storr said, Ermine Street was just to the east of the dyke. You will also no doubt have read that the remains of a number of forts have been found along the length of the dyke. Clearly a splendid example of Roman military engineering, neatly connecting the Northumbrian coastal watchtower system with the Saxon Shore defences and protecting the rich agricultural hinterland of Lincolnshire.
 

Peter Graham

Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
2,625
Westmorland
Where are the forts along the Car Dyke? Genuine question.

Anyone looking at naps of the Dyke might also note how later dykes link the Car Dyke to the Witham. It is still part of the Fen drainage system
 
Nov 2008
1,402
England
Where are the forts along the Car Dyke? Genuine question.

Anyone looking at naps of the Dyke might also note how later dykes link the Car Dyke to the Witham. It is still part of the Fen drainage system
This is some of what Storr wrote: "There were perhaps five short breaks in it. Traces of earthwork forts were found in, or near the gaps. There was a break, and a fort, roughly every six to seven miles in the northern section."
 
Nov 2014
1,654
Birmingham, UK
I'm going to have to just read Storr myself, though at this rate I will have read half the book in quotation on here before I even open it.... :)
 

Peter Graham

Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
2,625
Westmorland
Thanks Aelf. But does he say where the forts were? I'm originally from that part of the world (as I think you know) and I've never heard that before. Genuinely intrigued!
 
Nov 2008
1,402
England
Thanks Aelf. But does he say where the forts were? I'm originally from that part of the world (as I think you know) and I've never heard that before. Genuinely intrigued!
Infuriatingly vague on that point, simply stating they were in the northern section. I have scoured the internet for detailed information on the Car Dyke but that is illusive. There is plenty of information on these Dark Age dykes however, and there were a lot them. The earliest reference to these dykes as defensive structures built by the Britons to deter the Saxons is by Wade-Martins entitled The Linear Earthworks of West Norfolk in the Norfolk Archaeological Journal XXXVI pp 23-38. Storr mentions these dykes.
 

Peter Graham

Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
2,625
Westmorland
Infuriatingly vague on that point, simply stating they were in the northern section
That is indeed irksome.

I have scoured the internet for detailed information on the Car Dyke but that is illusive
It really is. It's a major structure and even the locals know very little about it (although I was always told it was for drainage. as discussed previously). Nothing whatsoever about them in Sawyer's book on Anglo-Saxon Lincolnshire or in Green's book on post-Roman Lincolnshire.

The earliest reference to these dykes as defensive structures built by the Britons to deter the Saxons is by Wade-Martins entitled The Linear Earthworks of West Norfolk in the Norfolk Archaeological Journal XXXVI pp 23-38. Storr mentions these dykes.
Do we know it was to deter the Saxons? Or is that just the assumption from their date?
 
Nov 2008
1,402
England
That is indeed irksome.

It really is. It's a major structure and even the locals know very little about it (although I was always told it was for drainage. as discussed previously). Nothing whatsoever about them in Sawyer's book on Anglo-Saxon Lincolnshire or in Green's book on post-Roman Lincolnshire.

Do we know it was to deter the Saxons? Or is that just the assumption from their date?
It is their context, where they were facing and where they were situated. Storr suggests the Angles were the threat, not the Saxons. In fact, Storr puts forward a case that the East Saxons and those Saxons in West Kent were actually invited in by the Romano-Britons to act as foderati in deterring the threat from the Angles. There seems to have been in this early period some antagonism between those two peoples. Michael Swanton has something to say about this in the introduction to his translation of the book The Lives of the Two Offas. You will no doubt of heard of Swanton, Emeritus Professor of Medieval Studies at the University of Exeter.
 
Mar 2015
1,450
Yorkshire


Sorry but I find Storr's book irksome. Why does he not give any references? Skips all over the place instead of really analysing a particular feature.

Car Dyke should give an excellent proof of his theory of a military origin (or later use as military) but where are the forts or failing that how about watchtowers? Why is it not mentioned in Notitia Dignitatum?

There are thousands dykes all over England, some large some very small. It seems to me, Storr maybe on to something when he talks about the numerous times a small dyke is used to cut a Roman road but otherwise I just can't see the military advantage..
 
Nov 2008
1,402
England
Sorry but I find Storr's book irksome. Why does he not give any references? Skips all over the place instead of really analysing a particular feature.

Car Dyke should give an excellent
Well actually he does in a lot of cases. I too find his book infuriating at times, but you really have to stick at it to understand what he is getting at.

Now concerning that map of his. Superimpose it on a map of Dark Age Britain showing the extensive fens stretching into Lincolnshire, and then you will see that the Car Dyke as a linear defence is superbly sited. However, it is a theory Storr is proposing, and the dyke may not have been defensive at all. But if it was not a defence, then I`m at a loss to understand how the Romans could have effectively defended the rich Lincolnshire hinterland. Those extensive watery wastes would have aided Saxon pirates to penetrate far inland, not prevented them doing so.