Ancient History

                                                               Sawtry’s Ancient Past
Sawtry has a very long and rich history. No one knows when it was first settled but Neolithic hand axes have been found in Sawtry Fen taking us back 5,000 years, evidence of a Bronze Age settlement, going back over 2,000 years was found during a recent excavation at Chapel End and an Iron Age roundhouse site, a 1,000 old, years was found Black Horse Farm on the site of the warehouses that stand on what was once The Great North Road and before that, Ermine Street a major Roman arterial  road, from London, known in Roman times as Londinium, to the North. The proximity of this Roman road, built in 43AD when the Romans invaded Britain meant that we have a lot of Roman history around us. Sawtry village is set on the west side of the road which was once a trackway that skirted along the side of marshlands of Whittlesey Mere and Ramsey Mere and smaller ones called Ugg,Brick and Trundle Meres. The word Mere is old English probably Saxon meaning lake or sheets of standing or shallow water. In harsh winters these lakes would freeze and when the ice melted in the spring they would burst their banks, flooding the land around them.  This marshland sat in a half moon shape bay that stretched from Monks Wood which was on high ground of Stangate Hill in the south to the higher ground of Norman Cross to the north. The settlers that lived in hamlets on the edges of this half moon bay would probably have found everything they needed to sustain life in this area.  Fish and fowl on the water, reeds to make shelter, wood nearby for their buildings, rich peat bog for fuel and to grow their food, meat from animals & wildfowl in the woods, fruit and nuts from the hedgerows, pottery and pots from our oxford clay soil, and salt that they would probably have collected by going across the meres in their boats to the Wash.  This abundance of produce meant that life was good here and many generations of settlers remained here.  As the flooding became more severe during certain era’s of Fenland history, the settlers were forced onto higher ground as the flood water encroached on their settlements which is why Sawtry sits predominantly on the west side of the road, at the foot of the stretch of hills from Sawtry to Glatton, as the settlers were pushed back here by the rising floodwater.  When the Iron Age site at Black Horse Farm was excavated in 2006 there was at least 12 to 18 inches of silt on top of the structures and artefacts that were found on the site, confirming that the site had been flooded.