Ancient ditches may be restored

PUBLISHED: 12:02 14 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:37 31 May 2010

Save Walden's Battle Ditches.
Saffron Walden.
November 10, 2008.
Photograph by Michael Boyton.
Pic shows: Bruce and one of the ditches.
Names (L-R): Bruce Tice.

Save Walden's Battle Ditches. Saffron Walden. November 10, 2008. Photograph by Michael Boyton. Pic shows: Bruce and one of the ditches. Names (L-R): Bruce Tice.

A PROJECT to save a neglected and ancient monument, which reveals much about Saffron Walden s medieval heritage, has been established. The battle ditches, which run south from the west end of Abbey Lane and eastwards to the High Street, have become overg

A PROJECT to save a neglected and ancient monument, which reveals much about Saffron Walden's medieval heritage, has been established.

The battle ditches, which run south from the west end of Abbey Lane and eastwards to the High Street, have become overgrown and eroded.

Now the Saffron Walden Partnership Board (SWPB) is looking to preserve and promote these huge earth mounds and ditches which are likely to have been built as part of the town boundary.

Project officer Bruce Tice said: "We want community involvement on this so that the battle ditches can be promoted and protected in the best way for the whole town.

"We want to establish a working group of anyone who has an interest in the ditches - maybe your house backs on to them or you walk your dog along the route."

Although they are known as the battle ditches, it is likely that their purpose was to keep animals out rather than for battle defences.

Historians estimate that the ditches date from 1250 and they are first mentioned in documents in 1304 and 1331.

The SWPB believe the ditches are of archaeological and ecological importance to the area and English Heritage has offered to support the project.

"They are a green corridor in an otherwise built up area of the town," said Mr Tice.

"The first stage is to have professional landscape architects survey the land then we can look at ideas to manage the area."

The SWPB works with the Saffron Walden Initiative, as well as the town council and Uttlesford District Council for the benefit of the town.

They were involved with the launch of the Saffron Walden Town Trail leaflet, and Mr Tice believes the ditches could be promoted in a similar way.

"It is possible we could produce a map showing the battle ditches and incorporating the wider footpath network," he said.

"It would show nice walks around the town as well as illustrating the historical importance of the ditches."

English Heritage has also shown an interest in producing an information board which could be erected at the site of some of the ditches.

Anyone interested in joining a battle ditch working group should contact Mr Tice on 01799 510670 or e-mail him at btice@uttlesford.gov.uk

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