DATA BASE REF: D/R 1002

ROMAN AQUEDUCT CASTOR – POSSSIBLE SITES

The Water Supply for the Roman Praetorium at Castor

 

It has always been assumed that there must have been an aqueduct to supply the Roman Praetorium and Roman bathhouse at Castor, which was sited in, and around the Church of St Kyneburgha at Castor.

There are some mysteries about the flow of water around and under the church today. For fully ten days after rain, the drains South of the Church at the bottom of the cobbled path flow with water, (as does water down Church Hill from under the South Garden Wall of Vine House, formerly the original pre-Victorian Rectory North West of the Church.)

The Church suffers after rain with water and rising damp both in the Nave and in the South West Corner of the Chancel and Chancel Steps.

It seems logical to assume that the water used by the Romans came from the North of the Praetorium, where the ground rises away to the North of the Church.

There is a large natural pond known as Oldfield Pond at Grid 132003, that is 800 metres West of the Castor-Marholm road. On one occasion when drained and cleaned by a local farmer Mr Theo Hensman, Oldfield Pond was discovered to be supplied by three springs. The supply is therefore artesian and not weather dependant. The line from Oldfield Pond to the Praetorium at Castor runs along the line of Cow Lane into Stocks Hill, Cow Lane is always boggy and very wet, even in Summer.

Michael Brown, who read Engineering at Cambridge, joined the RAF as a pilot and retired as an Air Vice Marshall, moved to 2 Carter Close Bretton, he and his wife Ruth both being members of the Congregation at St Mary’s Church Marholm, is also an amateur archaeologist. He is also a “dowser” or water diviner as are a number of civil engineers. As a result of discussions with me about the source of the water supply for the Roman Praetorium, he produced the attached Preliminary Design Study for the Castor Roman Palace Aqueduct.

On 9th January 2002, a group of us including the two churchwardens (Theo Hensman and Brian Goode) tried dowsing in the Churchyard under his tuition. It was successful and enjoyable. We also ascertained possible lines of Roman Walls in the Churchyard. Michael Brown applied his faculties as an engineer as well as an archaeologist to the problem and produced the attached document including estimates about flow and size of channels. He assumes a water supply of 219,229 gallons a day would be produced in a limestone-lined aqueduct about one foot by one foot in section, and has since also worked out the likely depth of the aqueduct beneath the top-soil in order to achieve a steady flow of water.