Promotional Video – Ancient Prehistoric Canals (Dykes) – Wansdyke
Extract From Book……………………… Ancient Prehistoric Canals (Dykes) – Wansdyke (Prehistoric Canals (Dykes) – Wansdyke (2))
Wansdyke has always captured the imagination of the general public as it is a substantial prominent structure in the Wiltshire landscape relatively close to another famous ancient site Avebury, which also has massive ditches like Wansdyke and therefore, one might suggest there is a direct relationship between the two.
This apparent connection has not occurred to past or present archaeologists who sought to find a simple meaning for this unique ‘linear structure’ and hence the conclusion that it was built to defend warlike invaders of the past and hence a ‘Saxon’ name was adopted as historians of the past believed that these ‘tribes’ had large armed forces that could cope with such grand engineering undertakings as it was to defend their land.
Over the last few decades, this ‘fact’ (which was also shared by an even more immense ‘Dyke’ also named after a Saxon ‘Offa’) has been revisited and found that this continuous defence ditch is far less continuous than previously believed and a new theory developed for these earthworks as ‘Boarder Markers’ in the landscape – as they have never been a single body found with battle wounds in all 22 miles of Wansdyke or the 177 mile Offa’s Dyke which would support the defence hypothesis.
Sadly, even with this new ‘reassuring’ suggestion for these extensive sites, archaeologists have failed to address the facts that Dykes are incomplete and not continuous (Offa has 40% missing and Wansdyke has 20% missing) and there beginning and end points just ‘appear’ without reason in the landscape ‘like magic’ with no one able to tell you why.
Moreover, if these ‘Boundary Markers’ taking years if not decades to build were demarcation points for land ownership, then why do some Dykes (like Offa) track much larger separation points like major rivers that would have been a far more apparent marker than a 4m ditch and a known and well used territorial boundary marker still used today.
Furthermore, archaeologists have ignored that there are over 1500+ scheduled Dykes in Britain (including Ireland), of which 90% could not be used for this function as some of these ‘boundary markers’ are found on uninhabited islands dotted around the entire circumference of Britain.
Robert John Langdon (2022)
Section 2 – HE:1004719 Wansdyke: Section from S of Furze Hill to Marlborough-Pewsey Road 4.3km (4,300m = 12,900 working days – 20 men taking 649 days (1.78 years).
1800 OS Map
Canal working hours
We use an estimated rate of 0.3m per day for calculating sections; on this single section, of the Dyke; we have a total length of 4.3km (4,325m).
At a rate of 0.3m per day over 8 hours – this gives us 12,975 working days. Using 20 person in a work team (with 200 people supporting the workers – to suppy food, water shelter, repair tools and clear the ground in advance of trees and scrubs. This gives us a total of 649 days (1.78 years). The estimate is based on one man cutting 0.3m per day (Ditch down to 2m deep within a chalk bedrock and the piling of the bank).
P.J.Fowler (2001) used 0.1423 metres per hour and claimed 1,000 men built the ENTIRE East Dyke in 30 days working 10-hours a day six days a week??
This ridiculous claim even with modern tools, it would be too demanding, and the logistics of feeding, mending tools and housing 1,000 men were not taken into account.
If we take the East Wansdyke into account – which is a total of 25,408 – we then get a calculation of 84,693 days. That is 11.6 years for the same 200 man tean (20 digging) – which indicates that this Dyke was built in small sections and then joined at a later date?
What is clear from the route of this section of Wansdyke is that it is not straight at all; it works against the topology to bend at 90 degrees in some places and dip down unnecessarily into a valley rather than taking the high ground.
But these wild undulations into valleys also cause problems for my hypothesis as a canal. For example, how could a canal move up and down significant gradients without locks?
Well, the answer is that they can’t – but the solution to this problem is in detail, for if you look again at this part of Wansdyke going into an old dry river valley, you see something archaeologists miss – it stops!!
We also saw this from the transition from Section 1 to Section 2 of Wansdyke. The second was a gap, which looked like a piece filled in by farming; there were two other gaps; the first was a later road cutting through and then a railway doing the same.
The Dry River Valley aspect of this part of the canal comes with a massive gradient – if it went to the valley’s bottom, it would make moving a boat very difficult. But we see on LiDAR evidence of the Dyke stopping before reaching the bottom. This is because, at some point in the past, this dry river valley in prehistoric times would not be ‘dry’ but full of water, as shown in the illustration (Fig.49)
This would make sense to the termination on the right as it would initially end at the river’s shoreline. If this was the case, the simple answer to the problem is that at that point, you took the boat across the river, so the gradients of the Dyke in the Mesolithic were small.
But why is there a continuation (bank) of the Dyke down the valley?
This can best be answered by understanding what happened to this earthwork once the waters started to fall in the Neolithic Period.
Logically, as the waters fell, the ditch would have been extended to meet the lower water level until the slope was too extreme to continue and was abandoned. Later once the river had completely dried up (and consequently the rest of the Dyke as the water table would have universally fallen), the natural road (the bank of the Dyke) would be used as a road.
Excavations of similar aspects of Dykes have shown that the bank reduced in height and became flattered like a road and hence more comprehensive. To use this road permanently, the builders adapted the dry river valley element (which would still be boggy for many centuries after the river disappeared) by adding to the bank by removing soil from the ground – but on both sides, making the ditch element smaller and more shallow than the rest of the Dyke and to both sides.
The result of this work looks like a loss of the deep ditch but is more likely a change in its structure – which is seen clearly on parts excavated in other Dykes but impossible to see here without excavation.
An interesting associated feature can be found just 200m south of Wansdyke Section 2 – A Long Barrow.
“The monument includes a long barrow set above the floor of a dry valley in an area of gently undulating chalk downland. The barrow mound is ovate and orientated east-west. It is 40m long, 27m wide and stands to a maximum height of 3.5m. Flanking the barrow mound to the north and south are ditches from which the material used to form the mound was quarried during the construction of the monument. These survive as earthworks 8m wide and 1m deep” – Historic England
What should be noted is it’s ON THE SHORELINE of the ‘Dry River Valley’ as shown from the suggested water level in our illustration. This is reflected by the ‘track’ (dyke) that connects the shoreline to the main Wansdyke Canal. So are we seeing the Dyke being used at a later date to take the bones of the dead from a reincarnation site to the Long Barrow?
This confirms the river levels at the time of construction and the previously speculated gap in Wansdyke by the river valley top.
Again, as shown in the previous section (1), another interesting feature near the Dyke is the ‘Old Flint Pits’ as a feature on the 1886 edition of the OS map but not recorded by the Historic Monuments Dept.
Another strange and bewildering feature in this section is the 90-degree bend on the Dyke.
This ‘kink’ confirms that Wansdyke was never built as either a Defensive wall or Boundary marker. As if it was a defensive feature, it would not have a ‘gently rounded ditch – it would be square like a castle. If it were just a marker, it would cut across the flat landscape – as it is more work to create such a turning for no reason.
The only logical reason for such an engineering feature is that it was added later when the Water Levels dropped in the Neolithic to follow the landscape topology.
This was an extracts from the NEW Book Ancient Prehistoric Canals (Dykes) – Wansdyke available on Amazon as a FULL COLOUR HARD BACK (£19.95) or a ECONOMY (£4.99) SOFTBACK black and white VERSION – it is also available as a KINDLE (£1.99) book. For further information about our work on Prehistoric Britain visit our WEBSITE or VIDEO CHANNEL.
- ASIN : B0BF31GQKC
- Publisher : Independently published (18 Sept. 2022)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 134 pages
- ISBN-13 : 979-8353488897
- Dimensions : 15.24 x 1.3 x 22.86 cm
- Illustrations: 85
- Customer reviews: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 rating
For more information about British Prehistory and other articles/books, go to our BLOG WEBSITE for daily updates or our VIDEO CHANNEL for interactive media and documentaries. The TRILOGY of books that ‘changed history’ can be found with chapter extracts at DAWN OF THE LOST CIVILISATION, THE STONEHENGE ENIGMA and THE POST-GLACIAL FLOODING HYPOTHESIS. Other associated books are also available such as 13 THINGS THAT DON’T MAKE SENSE IN HISTORY and other ‘short’ budget priced books can be found on our AUTHOR SITE or on our PRESS RELEASE PAGE. For active discussion on the findings of the TRILOGY and recent LiDAR investigations that is published on our WEBSITE you can join our FACEBOOK GROUP.