Bourne–Morton Canal

Bourne–Morton Canal

The Bourne–Morton Canal is an archaeological feature to the north east of Bourne in Lincolnshire, England.[1] In old maps and documents it is known as the Old Ea. It was a 6.5 km artificial waterway linking the dry ground at Bourne to the ancient edge of the sea near Pinchbeck, or perhaps to a navigable estuary in the area. There is now no visible trace

Excavation at Cross Drove in the 1990s suggests it was around 2.6 m deep at high tide, 6 m wide at the base and 10 to 12 m wide at the surface[2]

It appears to date back to Roman times[3] although very little is known. Despite the extensive agricultural reworking of the area the route can still be traced with cropmarks, straight as a die from Bourne to Morton Fen.

The alignment is obvious enough that it can be traced on web based satellite photography services between

The line of modern Spalding Road from near Queens Bridge to the bottom of Meadow Drove follows the southern bank of the alignment, which can then be followed out across the fields as crop marks. Several farm buildings in Barnes Drove and Morton Fen lie alongside the alignment, causing speculation about the antiquity of their sites.

The location of the south western end is an interesting speculation. It would make little sense to stop short of the dry ground to the west of the Car Dyke or of the Roman Road in the town, and projecting the line of Spalding Road takes us to The Austerby and across the line of the modern Eau and south of the Abbey Lawn. This area has been extensively re-engineered many times, for the Castle, Abbey and Railway, at least, and is now under 20th century housing. It is unlikely that new evidence will emerge.


  1. ^ C.W. Phillips (1970), The Fenland in Roman Times: studies of a major area of peasant colonization, Research Series papers, 5, Royal Geographical Society, pp. 32,33 
  2. ^ D.Trimble (1993), Excavation of a section of the Bourne-Morton canal in Morton Fen., Annual Report, Heritage Trust of Lincolnshire, pp. 29,30 
  3. ^ "National monument record for Roman settlement associated with the canal". 
  • Archaeology Commissions Report 4314 'FMP Bourne/morton Canal', 1993, recording existing traces

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