English Place-name Society

Survey of English Place-Names

A county-by-county guide to the linguistic origins of England’s place-names – a project of the English Place-Name Society, founded 1923.

King's Delph Gate

Early-attested site in the Parish of Farcet

Historical Forms

  • Cynges dælf 963 ASC c.1200
  • Cnoutes delfes kynges 1052–5 Rams c.1350
  • Kyngesdelf 1286 Rams c.1350


This delf is a channel, thus described by Dugdale (History of Embanking , 2nd ed., 363): 'About two miles distant from the north-east side of Wittlesey Mere, there is a memorable channel cut through the body of the Fen, extending itself from near Ramsey to Peterborough, and is called King's delph. The common tradition is that King Canutus, or his Queen, being in some peril, in their passage from Ramsey to Peterborough, by reason of the boisterousness of the waves upon Wittlesey Mere, caused this ditch to be first made,' in support of which he quotes a passage from the pseudo-Matthew of Westminster.This tradition is confirmed by the form quoted above from the Ramsey Cartulary which similarly identifies the king with Canute. Dugdale noted the inconsistency of this tradition with the mention of King's Delph in a Peterborough charter ascribed to King Edgar, but seeing that all these early Peterborough charters are notorious forgeries we can keep Canute and believe him to have been the promoter of this piece of early fen- engineering.

Places in the same Parish

Major Settlement