Dyke surveys and the discovery of Flag Fen
In the early 1980s, English Heritage funded a series of small dyke surveys in the Peterborough region. A dyke survey is where archaeologists examine the sides of newly cleared or cut dykes for evidence of sites buried deep below the soil. They are effectively large trenches. It was during this survey that Flag Fen was discovered.
On a chilly November morning day in 1982, Francis was walking a dyke to the east of Fengate, when he stumbled across a piece of oak lying in the mud. Sliding down the side of the dyke to the waters edge, he found more oak wood including what looked like a vertical post that had been clearly worked with a small bladed axe. Subsequent archaeological investigation by Francis, Charly, Maisie Taylor, David Gurney and David Crowther revealed large planks of split oak – one with a mortice hole through which a peg had been driven. Further excavations, funded by English Heritage, revealed this find to be part of a timber platform the size of Wembley Stadium. This late Bronze Age, monumental structure is over 3300 years old.