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Gorge Dyke

Gorge Dyke is a rare surviving example of an ancient dyke which surrounds the historic village of Wellow. As part of our heritage projects, archaeological and archival research was carried out to better understand its origins and purpose. This booklet explores our findings.

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Extract from the 1554 Abuttal, written in Latin

Gorge or George (and older names)

The 1554 Abuttals document obtained from Arundel (The Hastings having been Lords of the Manor 1325-1571) refers to the dyke as:

1) GAWDE’S DIKE: This could be a localism of ‘God’s Dyke’, which if this is the case then it could suggest that the origins have been lost in the distant past. This name, in the document, appears to be used for that man-made part of the dyke that lays south of Newark Road.

2) WROODYKE: The word ‘Wroo’ referring to a small cattle enclosure. This name, in the document, appears to be used for that part of the dyke that lays north of Newark Road, including both the man-made and natural aspects of the dyke. The document also uses the following two phrases:

1. ‘A ditch called the Wroo’

2. ‘...whereof the first piece containing one rood (0.25 of an acre) lies in the furlong called the Wroo.’

Since the word Wroo can be used as a small cattle enclosure, it may or may not refer to the entire area inside the dyke; it could simply refer to the furlong called Wroo. The modern name appears to have two spelling, both used on ordnance survey maps. With just one letter variation, two totally different reasons for the dyke receiving its name can be suggested:

3) GEORGE: This suggests that the dyke was named after an individual; the most likely person being one of the Lords of the Manor, who for centuries were the earls of Shrewsbury followed by the earls of Scarborough (Saville family of Rufford). There were four contenders for this possibility:

a) George Lord Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury. Lord of the manor 1571- 1590. He bought the manor from the Hastings in 1571.

b) Sir George Savile 4th Baronet. Lord of the manor 1644-1695. He was the one who moved the Great Way of Blythe further west, away from Wellow.

c) Sir George Savile 7th Baronet. Lord of the manor 1704-1743

d) Sir George Savile 8th Baronet. Lord of the manor 1743-1784

4) GORGE: this spelling presents us with two possibilities:

This spelling has been seen as a variation of ‘George’ although it is quite rare, but possible, which would tie it into the ‘George’ explanation.

Secondly it could easily relate to the actual structure, with parts of the dyke resembling a ‘deep narrow valley’ (Collin’s dictionary), especially the parts called North Dark Lane and South Dark Lane.

Thirdly, could the name of Gorge be a derivative of the 16th century 'Gawde'?

Finally, we must consider the meaning/origin/roots of the word ‘Wellow’:

“The Nottinghamshire version, listed as ‘Welhag’ in 1207 comes from old English wella + haga [meaning] ‘enclosure by a spring or a stream’”. With Wellow being a ‘planted’ village, established during the second half of the twelfth century the name could easily be derived from the fact that the village was built inside the dyke or at least that the village and dyke were constructed at the same time.

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