The ditches were a system of moats on the two landward sides of the medieval walled town, which took final form during the 14th century when they were doubled in every case except for the central stretch south of Briton Street. On the east side they occupied the east side of the space between Back-of-the-Walls and Canal Walk. As Bargate Bridge seems to have been a solid causeway the entire eastern system was unified and controlled from a master sluice under God's House Tower, where a tidal mill was worked by the effluent at low tide. Those waters were augmented by fresh water from Houndwell springs. The surviving levels suggest that some of these fresh springs may have been fed by bouneys (ditches) into the north-west section, which presumably was separately supplied and was equipped with a stone retaining wall above the western shore. Canal Walk was known locally as ‘The Ditches’ as it was built over the town moats.

Further reading:

History of Southampton, by Rev. J. S. Davies, p107-108. (HS/h)
Southampton Occasional Notes, by ‘Townsman,, p70, 72-3, 86. (HS/h)
Southampton Occasional Notes,2nd Series, by ‘Townsman,, p7-9, 16. (HS/h)
Excavations in Medieval Southampton, by Colin Platt (ed), p36-38, 145-146. (HS/f)


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