HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Historic England research records Result
Historic England research recordsPrintable version | About Historic England research records

Historic England Research Records

Nico Ditch

Hob Uid: 1033812
Location :
Manchester, Trafford, Stockport, Tameside
Non Civil Parish
Grid Ref : SJ7340095200
Summary : A linear earthwork known as the Nico Ditch which lies to the south and east of the present city of Manchester. It has been traced as upstanding earthwork remains and field boundaries for 5km between Hough Moss in the west and Ashton Moss on the east side of the city. It cuts through the low-lying land between these mosslands and defends the land to the north including the site of the Roman fort and Anglo-Saxon burh of Manchester. Its name has had various forms in the past including `mykelldiche' and `magnum fossatum' in AD 1190-1212. These names point to an Anglo-Saxon origin and mean the `great ditch'. The ditch has been excavated in various places in the past 20 years and these investigations have established the consitent form of a bank and ditch. Its date and function have been variously described as a boundary for Roman centuriation, as an early medieval administrative boundary to separate early estates and later parishes and as a defence of the burgh of Manchester reported in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle under the date AD 919. The latter suggested function would have cut off the access to the town by three Roman roads from the south side. Since the ditch effectively forms a barrier to traffic between the rivers Irwell and Medlock it may have formed a boundary of the kingdom of Rheged in the sixth century or it may have been the limit of the kingdom of Mercia in the eighth century.
More information : (SJ 9030 9593 - SJ 8493 9443) Nico Ditch (NR) (1)

The best preserved portions of the ancient dyke, now known as Nico Ditch are to be seen along the southern boundary of Rusholme parish, between Slade Lane and the Gore Brook. The total length of the dyke is over five miles but building operations have obliterated the greater part of it.
The work consists of a ditch, often hardly distinguishable from an ordinary field division, and a bank on the north side.
The course, beginning at the south end of Ashton Moss, ran in a south-west direction to Debdale Clough. It then curved slightly northwards and ran in a fairly straight line by Holland Moor House on to the south side of Old Yew Tree Cottage and across the Stockport road to Midway House. It went straight on again across Slade Lane, south of Slade Hall, then across Whitworth Lane, and Wilmslow Road, north of Ashfield, and so to Gore Brook.
With the exception of the portion in Ashton parish, the course serves as the boundary between ancient townships.
The dyke is frequently mentioned as `Mickle Ditch' and variants in early boundary deeds,(the earliest being 1200). It is never called Nico Ditch, which seems a comparatively modern name. A deed in the Townley MSS makes mention of it at at about the same period as `ad magnum fessatum'. It is clear that as early as 1200 the dyke was already a well-known landmark. (2)

(SJ 800 948 - SJ 887 950) Course indicated on earlier maps by old hedge lines, parish boundaries and footpaths. Ditches and banks still visible in places. (3)

The course of Nico Ditch has been traced by Dr. J.D. Bu'Lock and Mr. F. Willett. This ditch is regarded as Dark Age and ran from near the Irwell on the west to Audenshaw and beyond, on the east. A section in Platt Field, Manchester, was noted on Ordnance Survey maps, but with the help of early records it has beeen possible to trace additional sections even in almost built-up areas. (4)

SJ 9035 9598 - SJ 9052 9612. Section of ditch surveyed at 25"scale. Course of ditch (SJ 9052 9612 - SJ 9062 9622) visible across fairway against profile viewed from south, maximum depth 0.05m. Not surveyable.

SJ 9081 9640 - SJ 9088 9648. Section of ditch.
SJ 9090 9828 - SJ 9112 9845. Section of ditch and bank.
SJ 9118 9845 - SJ 9120 9841. Section of bank.
All surveyed at 25" scale. (5) (Original survey documents available in Linear Archive File)

"No trace was found of the Nico Ditch in the Irlam [Urmston] area (SJ 7495).
The conjectured course from where the parish boundary leaves Moorside Road, to the Mersey [Manchester] Ship Canal, crosses low-lying level ground." (6)

A 135m long section of linear earthwork known as the Nico Ditch situated in Platt Fields is now scheduled. (7)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : Ordnance Survey 6" 1933-1939
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : The Victoria history of the county of Lancaster, volume two
Source details :
Page(s) : 554-555
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Council for British Archaeology: [Annual] report
Source details :
Page(s) : 39
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 4, 1954
Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : FD Colquhoun 17/08/1959 First Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Field Investigator
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : JH White 17/10/1961 Second Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Field Investigator
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Ordnance Survey Linear Archive File LINEAR 22 in National Monuments Record Centre
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : English Heritage Schedule Entry 31/01/1997
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : English Heritage Schedule Entry 08/04/1997
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number :
Source : Annotated Record Map
Source details : Mrs M Fowler 1954 Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Correspondent 6" Map
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : C6- Possibly British
Monument End Date : 599
Monument Start Date : 500
Monument Type : Linear Earthwork
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Possibly AnglianC8
Monument End Date : 799
Monument Start Date : 700
Monument Type : Linear Earthwork
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 27600
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 27601
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : LINEAR 22
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, NICO DITCH, DENTON GOLF COURSE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1955-01-01
End Date : 1955-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, NICO DITCH, KENWOOD ROAD, REDDISH
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1979-01-01
End Date : 1979-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, NICO DITCH, KENWOOD ROAD, REDDISH
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1990-01-01
End Date : 1990-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, NICO DITCH (PARK GROVE)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1992-01-01
End Date : 1992-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CARR DITCH/NICO DITCH (NORTH OF WINCHESTER ROAD)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1992-01-01
End Date : 1992-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, NICO DITCH/CARR DITCH, 206 WINCHESTER ROAD
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1992-01-01
End Date : 1992-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, A57 HYDE ROAD IMPROVEMENT
Activity type : DESK BASED ASSESSMENT
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1993-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, NICO DITCH, PLATT FIELDS
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, NICO DITCH, GORTON EDUCATION VILLAGE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31