Saxon Ditch & Boundaries - HAMPSTEAD HEATH - 2016***

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Saxon Ditch & Boundaries

In ancient times, estate boundaries had to be defined.

In the case of Hampstead, the boundary definition goes back to 986AD.

The most obvious section today is the boundary running South across The Heath, which dates from Anglo-saxon times.

The area is known as East Park

The ditch separated the manor from Highgate, known in those times as Tottenhall Manor.
Beside the ditch are old oak trees which, in themselves, became boundary markers.

Oaks were often used to mark Parish boundaries.

Prayers would be said at these oaks for a good harvest...(Gospel Oak is a good example)
The boundary runs north to south across centre of Heath as an ancient boundaryline marked by parish boundary stones.

Starting at southern limit of Heath, near footbridge over railway station from Savernake Road, the edge of South Hill Park and the back of Tanza Road,  it runs north-west along the watershed ridge between the East Heath and Parliament Hill.

After passing near the western end of the Kenwood woodland, it bears right and enters the Kenwood Gardens, near The Spaniards Inn.

In the Domesday Survey of 1086, this was boundary between 2 manors: Hampstead, belonging to Westminster Abbey and Tottenhall (or Totehele), belonging to St. Paul’s.
(Tottenham was a narrow strip of land, running from the west side of Kenwood Dairy, along Hampstead Lane, back down Highgate West Hill, Hampstead Road and down to Tottenham Court Road, then round Regents Park, through Chalk Farm and back up to The Dairy)

It was also the parish boundary and until 1965, divided the boroughs of Hampstead and St. Pancras.

They did not become part of Hampstead Heath until 1889 (in the case of Parliament Hill) and 1924-8 (in the case of Kenwood) but they are part of it today.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries these boundaries were reinforced by stone posts and then more recently metal posts.

The slides represent the findings of a trip the author took on Sunday, 14th of February, Thursday, the 11th of March and Friday, 19th of March, 2010, with discoveries on various dates.

(The portion of the Ditch, west of The Tumulus and east of the Hampstead Ponds, just before South Hill Park, can be seen on The City of London Heath map.)

There are boundary stones as far up as The Nursery Gardens, within the Kenwood Estate. (probably further, although the author hasn't found them, yet)

The author shows two flat boundary stones, just on the corner opposite The Kitchen Garden.

On Sunday, 28th of March, 2010, the author has taken shots of the Hornsey Boundary stone.

It is encased in a metal frame and is situated at the base of one of the line of oaks, between the Kitchen Garden and The Mansion Cottage Estate offices, on the upper pathway.

The St. Pancras boundary post and metal post are then pictured at the side of the driveway from Hampstead Lane East Lodge, directly opposite the side of  The Mansion Cottage.

The St. Pancras boundary post and metal post are then pictured at the side of the driveway from Hampstead Lane East Lodge, directly opposite the side of The Mansion Cottage.

(On 5th of June, 2010, the author discovered another metal 'HORNSEY PARISH' boundary post hidden away in a recess at the rear of Kenwood's Flower Garden.

Walking through the north side of Kenwood Pasture Ground and on beyond Kenwood's Lime Avenue, and thence through the gate into West Meadow, a boundary stone is to be seen by the path from the Dairy.

Following north, in the direction of the Anglo Saxon Ditch, a path meanders through the Kenwood side of North Wood, which in essence is the line of the Ditch.

There are Oak Trees here and the author spotted two sets of boundary stones before the ditch emerges beyond Westfield Gate.

Just beyond this gate, another boundary stone can be seen before the ditch swings round to the left, in the direction of Parliament Hill Fields.

As the ditch veers round towards the top of the path, leading to Bird Bridge, the author discovered two more pairs of stones on March 19th, 2010.

As in the previous part of this page, this area of the Ditch is well defined.

There are two sets of double boundary stones, before the ditch flattens somewhat just by the longer Lime Avenue.

There are two flat boundary stones here but the author was unable to find them, due to the dead leaves, etc.

Crossing over, parallel to The Tumulus on the left and The Sports Field on the right, the author discovered another flat boundary stone.

Although the author definitely saw another double set of boundary stones in this area, they did not disclose themselves.

Maybe, some of you can let us know of any further information that might be helpful to the completion of this article?

Mesolithic Sites have been found at Hampstead (click here)

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