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Expanding Settlements in the Nene Park Area

800BC-43AD

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During the Iron Age, tribal culture began to take hold and people needed to defend their territory against their rivals. The tribe which held the Nene Valley, the Corieltauvi, may have had allegiances to the large and powerful tribe to the south, the Catuvellauni, but we don’t know about their other neighbouring tribes. The settlement within Nene Park (mainly on what is now Coney Meadow at Ferry Meadows) became more defensive, as we can see on geophysical survey results. Ditches almost a kilometre in length were built across a meander in the River Nene, so that the settlement would be protected on all sides. The Iron Age is also when we can first start to see similarities between how people lived then and now: the Celts wore linen and dyed wool, used coins as currency and enjoyed continental luxuries, including Roman wine.





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Farming at Nene Park

200-300AD

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A clue to life as a Roman in Nene Park are the remains of a large timber barn on Roman Point. It was probably used for furnace and smithing work for making small tools. Also close by are evidence of a well and a shallow tank. Experts think they could be for making salt from the then-tidal flow of the River Nene. These features were part of a larger farming complex, which is known to archaeologists as Lynch Farm. Roman Point can be visited at Ferry Meadows and is situated north of the visitors' centre.





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Stories From Skeletons

200-400AD

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We have a fascinating insight into Roman lives in what is now Ferry Meadows thanks to the Coney Meadow Cemetery, which was in use around 200-400AD. Over 40 skeletons were discovered of men, women and also children from Roman Peterborough. Archaeologists discovered that the people who were buried here had tough lives, through analysis of the skeletons.  These skeletons give us an understanding of death and disease in Roman Britain. They discovered a family with arm abnormalities and children with ear infections. They also found women with new-born babies, who may have died from complication associated with birth. Recently 3 of the skeletons were subjected to DNA analysis. Scientists were able to date the skeletons to the mid to late Roman period. One of the skeletons, know as 'skeleton 24' was identified as a woman. She had a bone bracelet and bone comb with her when she died, which were both dated to the fourth or early fifth centuries. DNA analysis revealed that she was alive somewhere between 240AD and 390AD. Combined with the bone objects, this reinforces the likelihood that the woman was alive in the late fourth century. There were also fragments of cheap, rough pottery close to the burials on Coney Meadow Cemetery. The lack of expensive pottery suggests these were everyday Romans and not the elite and therefore better representative of other Romans.





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Start of the Nene Park Story

1968

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Prior to the creation of Nene Park, there were very few recreational green spaces in Peterborough. In 1968, a year after the New Towns Act, the Peterborough Development Corporation was established and land from the Embankment in the city centre to Wansford, seven miles west, was purchased from landowners including Earl Fitzwilliam. Gravel extractors Amey Roadstone approached the Corporation and negotiations began to ensure that the resulting lakes were planned and landscaped carefully for the best possible visitor experience. Plans also included space for car parking, a water sports centre, a lake specifically for water sports and facilities including a café and shop.





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Opening of Ferry Meadows

1978

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Nene Park’s centrepiece, Ferry Meadows, was opened on 1 July 1978 by the broadcaster and environmentalist David Bellamy. In its first year of opening, the Park received 90,000 visits and is now one of the most visited country parks in the UK.





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Trust in the Park

1988

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Ten years after the park’s opening, Nene Park Trust was formed to take stewardship of the park itself. The Trust remains a charitable company, using its income to manage and develop the park through nature conservation, education and events and managing its facilities.





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Gordon Arms Celebrations

1845

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The Earl and Countess of Aboyne, also known as the Marquis and Marchioness of Huntly, or Charles and Marie Gordon, were owners of Orton Hall in the mid nineteenth century. They were so happy with the birth of a new daughter that they celebrated with the locals in the eponymous Gordon Arms Inn. On 16th January 1845 they held a ball and supper with dancing that continued until late, no doubt for the local gentry. The day after they treated '300 or upwards cottagers and peasantry' to cake, tea, beef and plum pudding, which would have been very welcome in the dark depths of winter. The Morning Post, Monday 27th January 1845, Page 5, Column 1-2





Orton Hall Farm

50 AD

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Archaeological excavations in the 1970s revealed a large first century farmstead in the vicinity of Orton Hall. The site was first in use from around 50AD and continued to be used well into the Saxon period. The farm house had a yard with a wall around it, and there were large barns and a mill too. Agricultural activities were evident, as well as beer production and milling, suggesting some wealth was attached to the farmstead.





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Lynch Farm Fort

44AD

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The area known as Lynch Farm has mainly been incorporated into Ferry Meadows. Three separate archaeological digs have looked at the features hidden under the ground under Coney Meadow. They have revealed extensive prehistoric activity which suggest a small oppidum (fortified town). Furthermore there is evidence to suggest that a small Roman fort was built there. Lynch Farm Fort was built within the boundary of the possible oppidum and was in use at about the same time as Longthorpe Fort. Longthorpe Fort sits on higher ground to the east, whereas Lynch Farm Fort sits lower in the valley. It is also a short distance from the fort at Waternewton, which was a key crossing point over the River Nene. The close proximity of the forts may have been a tactical response to conquer the area from local tribes. This is because the River Nene and its valley was a rich resource and important for travel purposes. It is also believed that a road crossed north to south past the fort. It forded the river close to where Ferry Bridge is nowadays, linking with another road by Longthorpe Fort. The area is scheduled, but can be enjoyed whilst visiting Ferry Meadows.