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CHER Number:06815
Type of record:Monument
Name:Burwell Lode

Summary - not yet available

Grid Reference:TL 564 690
Parish:Burwell, East Cambridgeshire, Cambridgeshire

Monument Type(s):

  • WATERCOURSE (Medieval to 19th century - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)

Full description

Burwell Lode first recorded in 1604 (R2) is an artificial watercourse 2 1/2 miles long, extending in a NW direction across Burwell Fen from North street (TL/5855/6780) to its junction with Reach Lode 3/4 mile SE of Upware (TL/5475/6930). It is fed by water by a number of small fen-edge springs, which is now carried into the Lode along catchwater drains to the N and S of its SE end. Apart from a slight eastward deflection at the SE end, the Lode runs in a straight line for about 1 1/2 miles in a NW direction. It then turns sharply almost due W and after nearly 800yds turns WNW and continues for a further 900yds before meeting Reach Lode. It is40ft - 45ft wide along its entire length. At its SE end the lode flows at or slightly below the level of the adjacent fen and there are no retaining banks. About 300yds from this end a bank, on the NE side, gradually rises to 3ft above the water level and to 6ft -8ft above the fens. On the SW side the lode has no retaining bank for the first 1500 yds. Thereafter a bank rises to a maximum of 10ft above the adjacent fen. The character of the lode is unlike that of other lodes in the area. Details are not clear, but it appears that until the mid C17 the name Burwell lode applied to a different and earlier watercourse, probably also artificial, which was still known as Old Lode in the mid C19 (R3). This earlier lode ran from the fen edge SW of Goose Hall (TL/5882/6842), flowed WNW along the line of the present sinuous ditch called Black Lake, and continued to a point 260yds S of Poors' Fen Farm (TL/574-/692-) where in 1841, it turned S towards the present lode along Black Lake. An existing water course, also sinuous, continues the original alignment NW until it reaches the edge of Adventurer' Fen NE of Priory Farm (TL/5662/6945). From this point it probably passed into an older natural water course which flowed SW and then NW across Adventures' Fen to a point approximately where the present Burwell Lode joins Reach Lode. The existing Burwell Lode had been cut by 1685 (R4). Although there is no direct evidence, the work was probably carried out by the Bedford Level Commissioners in the 1650s at the same time as the new Reach Lode was cut (R5). The Bedford Level Commissioners carried out numerous repairs to the lode during the C18 and early C19 (e.g. R6),but no major alterations appear to have been made to it until the second half of the C19, when the NW part of the Lode across the Adventurers' Fen was recut to the existing two straight alignments, replacing the older, slightly curved, line. This was probably done by the Burwell Drainage Commission (R3, R7).Part forms the boundary of Wicken Fen. See RN 06814 - earlier Black Lake.

Sources and further reading

<1>Bibliographic reference: RCHM. 1972. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Cambridgeshire. Volume II. North-East Cambridgeshire. 42.
<2>Bibliographic reference:
<3>Map: 1841. Map of Reach, Burwell and Wicken Lodes.
<4>Map: Moore's map of Fens.
<5>Cartographic materials: 1727.
<6>Cartographic materials:
<7>Map: 1886. OS 25in.