Should we celebrate the solstice on Capworth Street ? By David Boote
Marsh grazing for livestock was often divided between a number of parishes. Along our part of the Lea the manors within the parishes stretched from the river through the fields to the barren gravels of the ‘Flats’. This may have come from more than a sense of fairness. It may have helped run a system by which livestock such as cattle could graze on the poorer, higher land when the marshes were under water or being used to grow hay (or even new-growth sedge). The parish of Wanstead stretched from the place itself round the Flats and through Cann Hall to reach the Lea at the edge of West Ham. In this way Wanstead got permanent access to the Lea marshes. It does not help explain the straightness of the Leyton-Walthamstow division.
Could a route have been created between Leyton Flats (now Hollow Ponds) and the River Lea, for use in ceremonies to mark the changing seasons ?
At Flag Fen near Peterborough a long wooden trackway dating back 3,500 years to the Bronze Age has been found (photo of a preserved section above), and adjacent deposits of precious objects suggest it served a religious purpose. Comparable roads across the valley of the River Witham in Lincolnshire had precious objects deposited by them from Stone Age times and were chosen as the location of a chain of medieval abbeys.
Ditches at Flag Fen have been seen by Francis Pryor as hedge-lined droveways for livestock management. (Below is a photo of a reconstructed droveway at Flag Fen.) Might the Walthamstow Slip have served a practical function for driving livestock to and from the rich grazing of the marshes ?