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The enigmatic parish boundary bankTwo things are unusual about the bridleway which runs north-west to south-east from the east side of the lane to Harlaxton (NGR SK883352) towards a spinney due north of Harlaxton Lower Lodge farm (SK891345).
Firstly, this bridleway follows the parish boundary between Barrowby and Harlaxton. The boundary continues to the former meeting place of the Winnibriggs wapentake (where the A607 crosses Mow Beck) although the path diverts east and then zigzags to go under the A1.
The main extent of the bank seen from the south. The bridleway runs along the far side of the hedge,
The cross-section of the bank where field access has been created.
Secondly,the north-westerly part of the this track follows a significant bank to the south. My thanks to Nigel Jones for drawing my attention to this.
How old is this bank? Well it is likely to have been there in medieval times when a substantial hedge would have separated the 'great fields' of Harlaxton from those of Barrowby. But such ancient hedges did not usually sit on earthworks. The appearance of this bank reminds of the 'pales' of medieval deer parks. But I don't know enough about the medieval history of either Barrowby or Harlaxton to know if such a deer park once existed.
The pale of a deer park was constructed to allow deer to leap into the park but not to be able to leap out. If this bank is the remains of a park pale then the configuration suggests that the deer park was in Harlaxton not Barrowby. If you want to get your head around the pales of deer parks then this PDF will tell you all you need to know. And considerably more.
A key question is:- does the bank follow a pre-existing boundary or, instead, does the parish boundary follow a pre-existing earthwork?
In other words, is the bank the remains of an early Anglo-Saxon boundary marker? Or is it even older, say, Iron Age? Given the extensive crop marks of Iron Age and earlier activities to the south then a prehistoric origin is plausible, although not necessarily the most probable.
Lots of questions and no easy way to answer them! Certainly a very enigmatic few hundred yards of 'hedgerow'.
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Articles about BarrowbyBarrowby's location and geology
Seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
Articles and web links for nearby places
rare seventeenth fonts at Muston, Bottesford and Orston from Project Gargoyle Newsletter 2020
Ironstone quarries of Leicestershire
The Grantham Canal
Croxton Kerrial manor house excavations