It is not exactly a wonderful New Year’s present, but we are determined to put forward the best possible case to object to the proposal. The Planning Inspector (PI) has 28 days to review the application and decide whether to accept it for examination. He or she will publish the timetable and how to register to become an Interested Party to make a Relevant Representation (that’s the way we can state our case). The process is likely to start in March.
Thank you for the amazing support you have given us which has made it possible to get legal advice so far and more advice on our Representations once the documents are published.
The Save Honey Hill Cookbook, full of some fantastic recipes from villagers and friends, is now on sale. The price is now £10 for one copy. Orders are very welcome and we can deliver. All profits to the Save Honey Hill campaign, against the relocation of the Cambridge Sewage works to Honey Hill, between Horningsea, Fen Ditton and Quy.
Last Stand on Honey Hill by Liz Cotton at The Junction on 19th November 2022
Following on from her very successful stint at the Edinburgh Fringe earlier this year, Save Honey Hill’s very own comedy songstress, Liz Cotton, finally brought her show, Last Stand on Honey Hill, to the Cambridge Junction on Saturday night.
With her marriage on the rocks and her children flying the nest, Liz has used a well-honed skill of writing comic songs to help her cope with all life can throw at her, including a billion pound private water company wanting to plonk its new sewage works on her doorstep.
Fortunately for the Save Honey Hill campaign, Liz took umbrage with these plans and decided to hang her new show around her escapades with some of the Save Honey Hill campaigners who she came to know during the course of writing campaign songs and putting together a campaign choir (The Crap Community Choir).
Saturday night’s show was a sell out and for good reason. Liz’s reputation obviously preceded her and she did not disappoint – people had come from as far away as London. I must confess, I didn’t really know what to expect. Liz had warned us that her show was most definitely for adults only as it included very adult language. But I could not have foreseen how clever and accomplished her writing skills are that her saucy and yes, at times very adult themes and language, were simply hysterically funny and not the slightest bit offensive. Certainly for me, there was more than a hint of recognition in her song titled “Why Don’t You Know What To Do?” as she reeled off a myriad of examples of how her husband, Phil, ‘annoys’ her.
After briefly covering personal and family trials and tribulations, Liz proceeded to bring the audience up to speed with the ridiculous plans Anglian Water have for Honey Hill, ramming home with the use of video and photos, the beauty of the Fens landscape with resident wildlife, that’s being targeted by Anglian Water as the new location for its industrial plant. Through the power of laughter, comedy and Liz’s adorable cat, Purdy, we were all reminded of why we have spent the last couple of years fighting this heinous plan and I for one am incredibly grateful to Liz for the injection of fun in what could otherwise have been a thoroughly miserable time fighting for our Green Belt.
At the end of the show, members of the It’s Crap Community Choir were on hand to join Liz on stage to debut a new number, Honey Hill Honey. They were greeted with rapturous applause and I even spied some younger members of the audience clapping and nodding approvingly with more than a hint of respect for these oldies getting down and strutting their stuff in the name of protest.
Finally, it did not go unnoticed that aforementioned, Phil (Liz’s long suffering [??] husband), was standing proudly at the back of the venue as we all headed to the bar at the end of the show. Clearly their marriage has had a happy ending and hopefully so too will the Save Honey Hill Campaign!
A special Save Honey Hill Calendar 2023 has been created in order to raise funds towards the legal costs of the the Save Honey Hill campaign. It is illustrated by photographs of the open spaces around the Honey Hill area, the photographs having been taken by local residents.
The deer on the front cover looks directly and challenging at us and reminds us of the wildlife that will be displaced if the sewage works goes ahead.
The back cover shows the selection of photographs which reflect the seasonal changes in the landscape in the general Honey Hill area.
The calendars will be A4 size and cost £10 each, which includes an envelope, proceeds going towards the Save Honey Hill fund. They would make an ideal Christmas present for friends and relatives.
With her marriage on the rocks and children leaving home, Liz writes saucy songs to help her cope with life, but when a billion-pound private water company reveals its plans to build a sewage plant next door, can Liz and two small villages in the Fens harness the power of song to save their community – and her future? Comic songwriter Liz Cotton and her cat Purdy star in this comedy about the environmentally disastrous national infrastructure project planned for Cambridge.
After wonderful run at the Edinburgh Fringe Liz brings her very rude and equally funny show about Anglian Water’s plans for relocating the Cambridge sewage works to Cambridge Greenbelt slap bang in between Fen Ditton and Horningsea.
Dr Erik Grigg Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln
The High Dyke in Cambridgeshire is an example of a little understood type of feature, an early medieval dyke. By dyke I don’t mean a drainage ditch (though it is in an area that understandably has quite a few), but a long linear bank constructed from material dug from an adjoining ditch dating from what used to be called the Dark Ages, that is, the centuries after the end of Roman rule. It is often considered to be part of Fleam Dyke, another better-known earthwork that also faces south (that is the bank is on the north side of the ditch) a few miles to the east (Malim et al 1996). There is a large gap between the two and Fleam is slightly curved while the High Dyke is dead straight, even if they were built for similar reasons and during the same broad period of history, the High Dyke is surely worthy of consideration on its own.
Such features are hard to put a date on as we have no documents recording them being built and unlike graves or settlements, a hole in the ground and a bank of earth rarely have any finds buried in them (though they often bury older features). High Dyke is unusual as a series of early medieval artefacts have been found in the monument, but these were not properly recorded using modern archaeological methods. In 1947 a shield boss was dug up, ten years later a group of skeletons with classic ‘Anglo-Saxon’ grave goods (a sword, a pommel, various spearheads, a knife and some brooches) were found and in 1963 another shield boss discovered (R.C.H.M.E. 1972 pp. 144-47). Late Roman coins found under the bank of Fleam Dyke and radiocarbon dating of organic material from the ditch fill confirms it also was built around or just after the end of Roman rule.
Late Roman coins found under the bank of Fleam Dyke and radiocarbon dating of organic material from the ditch fill confirms it also was built around or just after the end of Roman rule
Such earthworks have fascinated me since being a teenager when I discovered similar enigmatic dykes in Dorset, so much so that when I did a PhD at the University of Manchester a decade or more ago, I spent seven years visiting, surveying and writing about them (Grigg 2018). Although there slightly similar earthworks dating from the prehistoric and some later medieval dykes, the hundred I studied all seemed to be similar in location and size (up to two miles long with banks one to two metres high and six to ten metres wide) with archaeological finds or records of medieval charters (these often mention them as landmarks) seeming to confirm that the period 400 CE to 850 CE saw a lot of digging in this country.
The items found at High Dyke are unusual but not unique. Bodies and weapons have been found at other early medieval earthworks including Bran’s Ditch, the Devil’s Ditch, a linear earthwork at Heronbridge in Cheshire and various other such dykes. In the centuries after the end of Roman rule and before Christianity became the dominant religion, people were often buried with weapons so these finds could just be disturbed graves. Though not everyone buried with a sword and a shield was necessarily a warrior, the fact that it was common to bury people with weapons does suggest a society that valued being able to handle such things. The finds from the High Dyke could mean that the ditch was used as a convenient place to bury somebody who the mourners thought should be placed at rest with a sword and shield. However, at some sites the bodies are in unusually large numbers or there is evidence of cut marks to the bones or they have been buried in pieces (just a skull or the skeleton being incomplete) which suggests that we may be looking at people who died violently. They may have been executed or died in a fight. This does not prove that these earthworks had a warlike function (they may have had more than one), but with no domestic objects coming from any of these earthworks (unless they are residual Roman finds from under the banks or the odd brooch found with a body) we cannot rule out people who first used the dykes had some interest in death and violence.
However, at some sites the bodies are in unusually large numbers or there is evidence of cut marks to the bones or they have been buried in pieces which suggests that we may be looking at people who died violently.
There are famous early medieval dykes like Offa’s Dyke and Wansdyke that meander across the landscape for long distances, but they are not typical, High Dyke is in being just over a mile long. Most seem to cut across roads, they bisect ridgeways or causeway or slice valleys that carried trackways. Archaeologists have debated for years if they ever had gateways, but I have yet to see any convincing evidence of one. My theory is that they were designed to block routeways, they are rarely aligned with county or parish boundaries (High Dyke is ignored by both) so rather than being borders, they were probably set back from them and were places where the locals could gather if they got warning of a hostile raiding party to bar their access. Some have suggested that they had wooden palisades on the banks, but there is no evidence of postholes found in any of them. The bank at High Dyke has been severely damaged by having a later road running along it, perhaps this sort of destruction is why the postholes are gone? Well, if we look other structures with earth banks like prehistoric hillforts, Roman marching camps or medieval ringworks (castles with just donut-shaped earthworks) or Anglo-Saxon burhs (forts or fortified towns), we can always find the postholes somewhere; if these dykes had a palisade, then if is incredibly unlikely that no excavation has ever found a posthole.
The High Dyke is unlike the other nearby Cambridgeshire Dykes like Fleam Dyke that seem to block access along the Icknield Way to anyone wishing to enter East Anglia from the Midlands. Unlike most early medieval dykes that usually cut a road, High Dyke seals off the entrance to what would have been a peninsula of high(-ish) ground surrounded by fens (now it is the River Cam on the west, the Bottisham Lode to the north and Quy Water to the east). Does that mean that this peninsula (which is covered by the northern half of Fen Ditton and the village of Horningsea) was a special place, say with ritual or religious significance or perhaps the headquarters of the local elite? Not necessarily. There is evidence of some Romano-British settlement in this area but nothing special, no feature that suggested that it was unusual (though who knows what lies awaiting discovery). The earthwork itself probably required the shifting of ten thousand cubic metres of earth, my calculations suggest that with early medieval tools between 40 and 70 people could have built it over a Summer (the soil would have been too damp in other seasons). It was quite an easy job to do for the inhabitants of a couple of villages, a few hamlets or half a dozen farms to build this unusual feature.
Unlike most early medieval dykes that usually cut a road, High Dyke seals off the entrance to what would have been a peninsula of high(-ish) ground surrounded by fens
There are other earthworks that might date from this period that cut off peninsulas that like the High Dyke do not seem to contain any known sites of important archaeological significance. Park Pale near Topcliffe in Yorkshire, various dykes in Cornwall (like Bolster Bank though they are undated), Dane’s Dyke cutting off Flamborough Head (though that might be prehistoric) and Horning Dyke in Norfolk are all examples of dykes that cut peninsulas. Perhaps they just made a defensible small area where the locals could retreat to. Early medieval warfare probably involved a lot of intimidation, shouting, burning down of farms and chasing unarmed peasants, but when faced with a determined group of people on a large bank across an equally deep ditch, most raiders would probably go to where pickings were easier. The trouble is with this period is we can let our imagination run away with us, though I believe my theory about it being a period of frequent small-scale raids and dykes being “stop lines” dug by local farmers (and as other historians have said, moving earth is very much a peasant’s solution to a problem) is based on a sound analysis of all the evidence.
….my calculations suggest that with early medieval tools between 40 and 70 people could have built it over a Summer
High Dyke has suffered much in the past, not least through roadworks. I hope it is preserved and appreciated for future generations who will probably ask new questions, use different techniques and come to slightly different conclusions. Increasingly we are looking at features and asking how they fit into the wider landscape, just what was behind the High Dyke is likely to become a more important question to future researchers. Never forget that we never know what is under our feet and when we dig it must be done with care and carefully recorded for future generations, we can only excavate things once and who knows what new scientific techniques will be added to the archaeologist’s arsenal in the future.
Malim, T., K. Penn, et al. (1996) “New Evidence on the Cambridgeshire Dykes and Worsted R.C.H.M.E. (1972). An Inventory of the historical monuments in the County of Cambridge, Volume 2 North-East Cambridgeshire. Published by Trinity Press. [Pages 144 to 147 give a good account of the dyke]
There are some fantastic offers available (see the list below). Tickets to attend on the night at Horningsea Village Hall are limited to 75. These cost £1.00 and attendees receive a complimentary glass of wine. So please buy them soon to avoid disappointment.
Saturday 17th September starting 7pm at Horningsea Village Hall
Horningsea/Fen Ditton resident, Liz Cotton, is currently at the Edinburgh Fringe with her show, 100% Cotton, In a Spin. Liz has been educating Fringe audiences about Anglian Water’s plans to foist its sewage works on Honey Hill from her own very personal point of view and in her unique and inimitable style. It sounds like this one particular reviewer really enjoyed it and we look forward to Liz bringing the show to Cambridge soon so we can all experience what sounds like a great evening’s entertainment!
Following the Phase 3 Consultation on the proposed Waste Water Treatment Plant relocation to Honey Hill, Anglian Water has sent a targeted consultation to properties and groups in the area where changes to land orders might affect them, e.g Horningsea Road, Fen Ditton and Clayhithe Road. These include traffic management at Junction 34, temporary closure of the A14 between junctions 33 (Milton roundabout) and Junction 35 at Quy and Clayhithe Road. Save Honey Hill has responded to these proposals in the document below sent to Anglian Water on 12 August 2022
Here is the response to that consultation from the Save Honey Hill group.
Anglian Water openly states there is no operational need to move its Cowley Road waste water treatment plant to arable Green Belt land just a mere mile from its current site (lunacy in this time of the climate emergency and predicted food shortages!); that they are being required to by the councils so that a brownfield site is created which can then be developed.
Ok….but….this is contradicted by the councils which say they are not requiring Anglian Water to move and that if it stays at Cowley Road, it will not adversely affect the plans they have for developing North East Cambridge.
It just doesn’t add up – it seems the proverbial wool is being pulled over all our eyes, someone is telling porkies or at least being highly disingenuous.
If Anglian Water was moving for operational reasons, it is fact that it would have to foot the bill not the taxpayer. It certainly won’t be moving just for the hell of it – AW is getting an awful lot of stick over this project – it is of course already a very unpopular company when you bear in mind all the fines it receives for crimes against the environment. Not to mention the hefty salaries and bonuses the top dogs receive despite these transgressions.
Who then is behind this costly, carbon heavy plan? Why is Anglian Water moving? Why has the move been given Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project status? Why has the project been awarded £227 million of Housing Infrastructure funding (taxpayers’ money), roughly the same amount incidentally that Anglian Water (a private company) will pocket from the sale of the land at Cowley Road!
When will the leaders of City and South Cambridgeshire District Councils show some honesty and integrity towards the public and address so many unanswered questions which I believe only they can answer!