There are many bridges across the River Nene in Peterborough. These include road, rail and pedestrian bridges as diverse as the early eighteenth century ashlar stone Ferry Bridge in Nene Park and Shanks Millennium Bridge near Flag Fen. People have always needed to cross the river, but they haven't always used bridges to do so.
Bridges are expensive and complicated to both build and maintain, and even more so before the use of industrial metals and quarrying techniques. A simpler solution was to cross the river where it was shallowest and create a ford, or to organise a boat to ferry people across the river. Both techniques were used at the Ferry Bridge site, which is said to date back to at least the Roman occupation of the area, but there were others that have been forgotten.
Botolph Bridge or Bottle Bridge was a hamlet sat on the south side of the River Nene. Its name is believed to come from a river crossing that once existed there. A court roll from 1428 references a ford linking Botolph and Longthorpe, with further documents suggesting landowners held property in both areas, which would be impractical if the two areas were not directly linked across the river. The name Botolph also links the two areas, with Longthorpe church named after St Botolph and a myth linking Botolph to the spring there too.
The ford fell out of use, as did the hamlet of Botolph Bridge, leaving us with an unusual name and a question as to where the ford was. The church for Botolph Bridge gives us a clue in its siting, which was close by to the junction of Nene Valley Railway's Fletton Loop , and lidar hints at an old hollow way now hidden in the landscape, that may have led to the crossing. The land around the possible crossing in public recreation land, so do take a look, but remember to be careful of the river and avoid trespassing on the railway.
Photo Credit: Rawney Ford by John Walton via Wikipedia