Writing almost two hundred years ago the early Plymouth historian Woollcombe wrote of the Barbican that the name ‘indeed implies that it was a fortified place, and projected from the Castle itself, which stood on the hill above, now called Lambhay Hill. Some remains of this Castle are still to be found but few visible. The old names still continued of the adjoining streets point out its situation, viz Castle Street and Castle Dyke Lane.’
Today there is even less evidence of the old Edward III castle – which predated Drake’s fort and the Citadel and whose four towers gave us our civic badge – however the thoroughfares remain and Castle Dyke Lane is remarkable for almost certainly being the city’s narrowest inhabited street. The name itself is an alternative form of ‘ditch’ and, as you might expect, there are many other Castle Dykes dotted around the British Isles – in Lincolnshire (a navigable waterway), Kent (another waterway), Yorkshire, Scotland, Cornwall and Devon (Launceston and Chudleigh).