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  • The Raw Dykes is a large feature, made of earth, alongside what is now Aylestone Road
  • Today, 110 metres can be seen, but it was once much longer, possibly over 600 metres
  • Many believe it was a Roman aqueduct bringing water from Saffron or Knighton brook, into the town, for drinking and bathing

An impressive earth structure

The Raw Dykes is a large feature, built from earth, alongside what is now Aylestone Road. It includes two banks, a ditch and narrow channel in between. Today, 110 metres can be seen, but it was once much longer, possibly over 600 metres. It would have taken many people and much planning to build for the town. Raw Dykes is a nationally important archaeological site, listed by Historic England as a scheduled monument.

Excavations in 1938 found two Roman pottery sherds from the 1st century AD, indicated that Raw Dykes was constructed during or after this time.

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Section through the Raw Dykes, Leicester

Why is it called Raw Dykes?

The earliest written reference to the Raw Dykes is in the Lord Mayor’s accounts for the Borough of Leicester in 1322. It is referred to as the ‘Rowedick’. In other documents the feature is called ‘Radikes’ or ‘Rawdikes’. The name Raw Dykes might come from Ratae, a Latin spelling of an Iron Age word which may mean ramparts. Ratae became part of the Roman name for Leicester - Ratae Corieltauvorum.

What was Raw Dykes for?

Many believe it was a Roman aqueduct bringing water from Saffron or Knighton brook, into the town, for drinking and bathing. It has also been suggested that the Raw Dykes was a Roman canal. In 1938, Archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon led a dig that found Roman pottery. May 1645 saw the Raw Dykes have a role in the Civil War. The Royalist army used the banks to set up their weapons, ready for bombarding the town.

Visitor information
Visible from Aylestone Road


Roman Leicester

(47- 500) A military fort was erected, attracting traders and a growing civilian community to Leicester (known as Ratae Corieltauvorum to the Romans). The town steadily grew throughout the reign of the Romans.

Tudor & Stuart Leicester

(1500 – 1700) The wool trade flourished in Leicester with one local, a former mayor named William Wigston, making his fortune. During the English Civil War a bloody battle was fought as the forces of King Charles I laid siege to the town.

Georgian Leicester

(1700 – 1837) The knitting industry had really stared to take hold and Leicester was fast becoming the main centre of hosiery manufacture in Britain. This new prosperity was reflected throughout the town with broader, paved streets lined with elegant brick buildings and genteel residences.

Victorian Leicester

(1837 – 1901) The industrial revolution had a huge effect on Leicester resulting in the population growing from 40,000 to 212,000 during this period. Many of Leicester's most iconic buildings were erected during this time as wealthy Victorians made their mark on the town.

Edwardian Leicester

(1901 – 1910) Electric trams came to the streets of Leicester and increased literacy among the citizens led to many becoming politicised. The famous 1905 ‘March of the Unemployed to London’ left from Leicester market when 30,000 people came to witness the historic event.

Modern Leicester

(1973 – present day) Industry was still thriving in the city during the 1970s, with the work opportunities attracting many immigrants from all over the world. While industry has declined in recent years, excellent transport links have made Leicester an attractive centre for many businesses. The City now has much to be proud of including its sporting achievements and the richness of its cultural heritage and diversity.

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