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This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Roman Roads in Britain

by Thomas Codrington

published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge
London, 1903

Text and maps are in the public domain.


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 p127  Chapter IV: Ermingº Street

zzz (1) General Course
(2) London to Braughing
(3) Braughing to Godmanchester
(4) Godmanchester to Castor
(5) Castor to Lincoln
(6) Lincoln to the Humber and the East Riding of Yorkshire
(7) Lincoln to Tadcaster
(8) Tadcaster to York
(9) York to Stamford Bridge and Malton: Wade's Causeway
(10) Stamford Bridge to Bridlington
(11) York to the north-east and north

 p128  (1) General Course

Ermingº Street, according to some, extended to the south coast, and part of the road from London to Chichester, which has already been described, bears the name, but until London Bridge was built there could have been no direct connexion between a road south of the Thames and Ermingº Street. Others have denied that the Roman Ermingº Street came as far south as London. Dr. Guest​1 was of opinion that Ermingº Street from London to Huntingdon was not Roman, because there are no Roman remains on it, and because if there had been a paved road there would have been an Iter on it, whereas of the three from London to Lincoln, two go by Watling Street and one by Colchester. He, however, says that there is evidence that it existed in the time of Edgar, and he shows it in his map of the "Four Roman Ways." Dr. Guest's view was adopted and more widely disseminated by J. R. Green, who wrote​2 that the lower portion of Ermingº Street did not exist in Roman times, the fastnesses of the forest being so impassable that the road-makers did not attempt to penetrate them. The evidence on that ground, and that afforded by the Ordnance maps, is quite against this view.

 p129  The course of Ermingº Street from London is direct northwards to Royston, except a bend to the east and back again to the same line. On this bend, near Braughing, three roads branched off, one eastward to Colchester, one in north-easterly direction to Chesterford, and another to the north. To avoid the Fen country Ermingº Street turns towards the north-west at Royston, crossing the river Ouse at Huntingdon, the Nene four miles west of Peterborough, and the Welland at Stamford. Then by a turn to the north it gains a ridge of high ground along which it continues through Ancaster and onwards in almost a straight line due north for 48 miles to the Humber. At Lincoln it is joined by the Foss Way, and about four miles further north a road branches off to the west-north‑west by which access was given to York and the north without the necessity for crossing the wide tidal Humber. Avoiding the lower courses of the Trent, the Idle, the Don, and the Aire, this road curves round until after crossing the last-named river at Castleford it takes a northerly course. In about eight miles the road to York, apparently the more important road, curves off, but a road northwards continues on to Aldborough, Catterick, and Bishop Auckland. A few miles after the river Swal has been crossed near Catterick Bridge, a road branches off north-west, and crosses the fells to the Eden valley and Carlisle, and on to the Clyde at the west end of the Wall of Antonine. The road to the north continues on under the name of Watling Street, and after crossing the Tyne near Corbridge, and the Roman  p130 Wall about three miles further on, it takes a tolerably direct course to the north-west over the Cheviots to the south side of the Forth and on to Stirling and Perth. A little to the north of the Wall a road branches off to the north-east which is traceable to Tweedmouth. The minor branch roads will be noticed in the following detailed description.

(2) London to Braughing

The course of Ermingº Street lies to the east of the earlier Londinium. It may be that it left by the east gate to avoid the marsh or fen which Sir Christopher Wren discovered outside the north wall.​3 Through the enlarged city the course is undetermined, but there appears to be evidence that neither Gracechurch Street nor Bishopsgate Street are on it. Near where Shoreditch Church stands, Ermingº Street was crossed by the Roman road passing to the north of London in the line of Old Street, from Tyburn to Old Ford, and from that point the course in a straight line for between five and six miles is represented by Kingsland Road and the continuation through Stoke Newington and Tottenham to Edmonton. There are short lengths of parish boundary along the middle of the road at Haggerston, and Stamford Hill, and for more than half-a‑mile at Stoke Newington. The modern road turns to the east beyond Edmonton, but Ermingº Street appears to have gone on over Hounds Fields and Forty Hill to near Maiden Bridge. Brickyards and buildings have effaced what traces there were over Hounds Fields, and there is little to mark the course further on. The  p132 line seems to have crossed Charter Hatch Lane where a track remains at some old houses, and to have passed to the east of the course of the New River at Goat Lane. About half-a‑mile north of Maiden Bridge the present road takes up the line and continues straight for nearly a mile along the west side of Theobalds Park, which then juts out and masks the line of the old road for a quarter of a mile. The present road resumes the line near the north entrance to the park, where Temple Bar has been re-erected, and continues in the same general direction with slight windings, due to enclosure of ground attached to houses, to near Cheshunt Great House. The road straight on is now stopped, but a track and footway are shown on the new Ordnance map continuing on to a lane in the same line nearly to Cheshunt Park. After an interval of a mile and a half the same line is again taken up for a quarter of a mile by a lane west of Cold Hall. Broxbourne Bury then conceals the course for a quarter of a mile, but at Martin's Green it begins to be plainly represented for nearly two miles by a broad green track through the woods, called Elbow Lane, to Little Amwell, where the modern road from Hoddesdon to Hertford joins it for three-eighths of a mile, and then turns off to the west. To this point (300′) the general course of Ermingº Street is straight from Bishopsgate for 20 miles, and from it the high ground from between Buntingford and Royston, where almost exactly the same direction is resumed, is plainly visible. The course of the old road is continued by lanes from where the  p133 Hertford road turns off at Little Amwell nearly to the Ware and Hertford road in the Lea valley. Parish boundaries which have followed Elbow Lane and the Hertford road for more than a mile and three-quarters to Little Amwell, continue along the lane in the same line for a quarter of a mile, and again from the Ware and Hertford road to the Lea, on the north of which in Bury Fields Roman remains have been found. Gough​4 notices a ford in the river just above Ware, and on the north side a piece of land pointing to it called Causeway Acre. North of Ware the Great North Road takes the course of Ermingº Street, and in about a mile there is a slight change of direction on the highest ground (260′), and a straight length begins which continues for three miles over High Cross Hill to near St. Edmund's College (310′), pointing to the site of the Roman camp (300′) at Braughing. At Wadesmill, where the river Rib is crossed, the road has been altered to improve the gradient, and the straight line has been somewhat deviated from, and the same is to be noticed at many other places where the road has been improved. Beyond St. Edmund's College the present road begins to descend into the valley of the Rib, and it is probable that the Roman road continued on in the same course for two and a half miles to the station at Braughing. The site of this is on the promontory formed by the confluence of the rivers Rib and Quin, on the west of Braughing. Traces of a camp were visible formerly, but the hill is now enclosed and planted.  p134 

At or near this station several roads branched off. The course of one to the east is indicated for two miles by a parish boundary, which runs straight from the river Rib between Puckeridge and Braughing, along hedges and by the side of the woods to Horse Cross (379′), where it joins the present road to Bishops Stortford. There is no parish boundary beyond, nor anything in the present road to suggest a Roman road, but beyond Bishops Stortford it is continued by the Essex Stane Street, which will be reverted to.

A road seems to have continued on from Braughing to the north-east, in the direction of Great Chesterford, of which the first indication, some four miles from Braughing, is a lane with a parish boundary along it pointing straight to the camp at Braughing. After an interval of a mile and a half a lane with a parish boundary continues the same straight line for about a mile and a half from near Butts Green to Coopers End, and in three-quarters of a mile the same line is taken up by a parish boundary, and then by a lane, and by a parish boundary to Elmdon Lea, together a mile and a quarter. These all lie in one straight line pointing to high ground (about 370′) near Strethall, two and a half miles from Great Chesterford, to which a lane leads, followed for some distance by a parish boundary. The Roman road continues on in the same direction through Newmarket, following the course of Iknild Street.

There are also traces of a road branching near Braughing towards the north-west. A lane on the north side of Hamels Park is followed by a parish  p135 boundary for a quarter of a mile, and the line is taken up by a parish boundary three-quarters of a mile further on. Neither of them is very straight, but two miles from Ermingº Street a track begins which is continued by Back Lane, a parish boundary following both, for three and a half miles to Hare Street, and after an interval of about a mile, lanes and roads continue the line to Baldock on the Iknild Way. North of Baldock a straight road with the county boundary following it for two miles, and a parish boundary for a mile and three-quarters farther, goes on by Stratton to near Biggleswade. Bishop Bennet​5 traced it on straight to Chesterfield near Sandy, and on to Godmanchester. A dotted line on the new Ordnance map is marked Roman road for four miles from near Sandy to Crane Hill, beyond which the county boundary for half-a‑mile, and afterwards a lane with a parish boundary, continue the same line, but the course of the Roman road further north seems to lie to the east of this, and to be continued by a lane with a parish boundary along it going by Weald to Toseland, where pieces of the ridge appear, nihil a county and parish boundary already upwards of two miles, leading to Godmanchester.

(3) Braughing to Godmanchester

Northwards from Braughing, Ermingº Street is represented from near Coles (254′) by a straight road with a parish boundary along it for three and a half miles, through Buntingford to near Corney Bury (334′), where there is a considerable turn, and where the same straight  p136 line is taken up which was departed from near Ware. Two lengths of straight road, very nearly in the same line, with parish boundaries nearly al the way, then extend for five and a half miles to high ground (360′) half-a‑mile south of Royston. Thence a straight road runs through Royston, where Iknild Street crosses Ermingº Street, for eight and three-quarters miles to a point (250′) near Coombe Grove, from which another length of straight road almost exactly in the same straight line for five miles reaches to Caxton Gibbert (216′), parish boundaries follows the road nearly all the way.

Five miles north of Royston a Roman road branches to Cambridge; parish boundaries follow it for half-a‑mile, a quarter of a mile, and a mile and a half, to Lords Bridge, from which it is continued along a lane by Barton to Cambridge. This road will be noticed again further on.

From Caxton Gibbet another Roman road seems to have gone to Cambridge, parish boundaries following the present road for most of the way.

Northwards from Caxton Gibbet, the present road, following the course of Ermingº Street, is straight for five and a quarter miles to Kings Bush (140′), which commands a view beyond Caxton, and to high ground beyond Huntingdon to the north, and from which a straight course was laid out pointing to Green End (120′) near Great Stukeley two miles north of Huntingdon. The improvement of the gradient of the present road down the hill into the valley of the Ouse has impaired the straightness of the road, and  p137 through Godmanchester and Huntingdon the straight line of the Roman road was apparently departed from to avoid the river.

The Roman road from Sandy which joined Ermingº Street at Godmanchester has been noticed (p135). Another is plainly traceable coming from Cambridge along the edge of the Fen country, followed nearly all the way by parish boundaries. The ridge remained here and there in Stukeley's time. It is part of a road coming from the direction of Colchester to which Dr. Mason, Woodwardian Professor about 1750, gave the name Via Devana, supposing that it led to Chester. The name has been perpetuated on the Ordnance map.

It will be observed that the course of Ermingº Street, which has now been followed from London to Godmanchester, has the characteristic features of a Roman road. The general course for the first 20 miles is almost straight, and parish boundaries follow it, as they continue to do when the road turns away eastward into the valley of the Rib, where Roman roads branch from it to the east and to the north-east and to the west, and at Corney Bury the same straight line which was departed from near Ware, is again taken up for five and a half miles after an interval of 10 miles in which the road turns eastward and back again. From Royston to Godmanchester, a length of 20 miles is made up of pieces of road so nearly in the same line that no part is more than three-quarters of a mile away from a straight line, and with parish boundaries follow the road for most of the way. The construction of the modern Great  p138 North Road has here as elsewhere obliterated nearly all other traces of the Roman road.

(4) Godmanchester to Castor

There are reasons for supposing that the site of the Roman station at Godmanchester is the rectangle on the west of Ermingº Street which is indicated by streets and lanes. There were remains of the walls in the middle of the eighteenth century. The wide causeway across the low ground on the south of the river Ouse in continuation of the street in Godmanchester, is probably on the line of the Roman road, but the course of the latter is uncertain until the straight line is resumed on the north of Huntingdon, where there is a quarter of a mile of parish boundary along the present road, and perhaps traces of the ridge, though the cutting down of the hill to improve the gradient has modified the original straight course. From Great Stukeley (128′) a straight road two and a half miles long, with a wind to the east in the hollow beyond and through Little Stukeley, leads to Alconbury Hill (162′), where there is a change of direction of about 40° by a round turn towards the east. It seems likely that here a road branched off to the west, of which the first appearance is about two miles distant near Buckworth, where a straight road pointing to Alconbury Hill begins, which a parish boundary soon joins and follows for a mile and three-quarters, the road continuing on in the same direction for three-quarters of a mile. In a mile and a half the same straight line is again taken up by a lane which in half-a‑mile is joined by a parish boundary, and a straight road  p139 continues in the same direction for two and a half miles to Titchmarsh, parish boundaries following it for a mile and a half. Titchmarsh is nine miles from the nearest trace in the same direction of Gartree Road, a Roman road from Leicester, which at Cottingham, and one mile south of Corby, is pointing direct to Titchmarsh.

From Alconbury Hill Ermingº Street takes a direct course for nine miles. Near Sawtrey it descends to low ground (18 to 30′), and winds slightly for about a mile until the straight line is recovered at the park of Conington Castle, and is followed to a point (91′) half-a‑mile north of Norman Cross and nine miles from Alconbury Hill. Hereabouts, not far from Stilton, the road was still laid with pitched stones in 1712,​6 and Stukeley​7 found the road perfect with a ridge upon the open fields for a long way together, and in some parts still paved with stone. With a turn through 25° towards north-west, the cross is straight from the turn north of Norman Cross for 10 miles to a point (176′) between Walcot Hall and Burleigh Park. For three and a half miles the Great North Road with a parish boundary along it continues to follow the line, but to the north of Chesterton on approaching the river Nene it turns off to the west after having followed the course of the Roman road for 56 miles continuously. The ridge of Ermingº Street is to be seen running straight on, passing diagonally through what Camden styles the evident  p140 traces of a ruined city. It is of irregular polygonal form, about 770 yards long from south-east to north-west, and 400 yards broad, and is surround by the remains of a rampart and ditch. Stukeley, who often visited it while the turnpike-road to Wansford was being constructed along the west side, describes the ploughing up of interments, stone coffins, urns, coins, etc.; and the uncovering of the masonry foundations of the south gate, and part of the wall inside a broad ditch. The foundations of buildings could then be traced, and many loads of stone, tiles, and bricks were carted away every year. The elevated crest of the road continued to the bank of the river Nene, which was crossed by a timber bridge on stone piers, the remains of which were removed when the river was made navigable.​8 On the north of the river, to the east of Castor railway-station, the ridge remains conspicuous. The sides have been dug into for the sake of the materials, and the recesses so formed have been levelled by the plough, but viewed from the line of the road it presents the outline of a bank eight yards wide at the top and as much as five feet high. A parish boundary follows it for 300 yards to the road to the station, and here between Ermingº Street and the village of Castor many Roman remains have been found, among them a milliary dedicated to Florianus, A.D. 276, on which is M.P. L (or LI), which is the distance to Lincoln.​9 Stukeley supposed  p141 that there were traces of a Roman camp round the churchyard at Castor, but they are not now apparent.

A Roman road must have branched off hereabouts which went due north, crossing the Welland at West Deeping. There is now no trace of it near Castor, but its course is indicated from near Upton for a mile by a parish boundary, and then by a lane, and a road in the same line called King Street, which crosses the Midland and Great Northern Railways one mile west of Helpston station, and runs through West Deeping, and straight for eight miles to Kates Bridge, a parish boundary following it most of the way. Stukeley​10 considered this to be the original stem of Ermingº Street, and the road by Stamford a branch of later date. But so far from being a branch leaving the former at an angle as he states, the road to Stamford runs straight by Castor for 10 miles, and the Sleaford road branches at an angle of 30° from it. It seems more likely that the road keeping to the high ground was the original road, and that the other was made later in connection with the Car dike,​11 and the reclamation of the Fens. King Street is supposed to have continued on by Bourn, along Mareham Lane to the east of Sleaford, and thence by Digby, Scopwick, and Branston to Lincoln. From Castor also must have branches the remarkable road across the fens to Norfolk, which will be mentioned further on.  p142 

(5) Castor to Lincoln

The ridge of Ermingº Street continues on, remaining conspicuous for more than half-a‑mile, though a good deal of it has been dug away. In one place the whole has been removed, and a hollow one foot six inches deep is left in place of the ridge, which close by remains four feet high. It would seem that here earth, to a depth of one foot six inches at least, was removed by the Roman road-makers and replaced by a better material which was worth removing with the ridge. Professor Babington​12 records that he saw hereabouts the foundation of the road formed of large slabs of stones, set in mortar made with pounded tiles. Nothing of it is now to be seen. Towards the Peterborough road the ridge is eight yards wide at the top, and four feet high. This road, with a parish boundary along it, takes the line of Ermingº Street for a quarter of a mile, affording an instructive example of the manner in which the ridge of a Roman road becomes effaced. A narrow lane with a parish boundary following it then continues the line of Ermingº Street on for a mile and a quarter, and then for a mile there appears to be no trace of it. On the south of Southorpe the present road is on the line for a short distance, and then, through a pasture-field, a trench four yards wide and two or three feet deep shows where the materials of the ridge and its foundation have been dug out. In the next field the line of the ridge is shown by an undulation in the surface of  p143 the pasture; and in arable land beyond all traces are lost except that a footway follows the line. A track along the west side of Walcot Hall, with no trace of a ridge, leads on to a road with a parish boundary along it, and then the ten miles of straight course ends, and there is a turn, which the parish boundary follows, through about 35° to the west. An undulation across arable land with a footpath on the top, and a parish boundary, mark the line of the ridge, which is hardly observable further on where a fence wall takes the middle of it. Through the plantation enclosing Burleigh Park the ridge is plain, but in the cultivated land inside it is completely effaced. A footway with a parish boundary along it marks the course for a mile, and in the west of the park the ridge is plain for more than half-a‑mile between the drive and the ha‑ha, some four or five feet high, but cut away and narrowed. It is in the same straight line, and has a parish boundary along it. On the west side of the park there is a turn of about 30° back towards the north, and the course of Ermingº Street makes straight for a point (345′) north-east of Exton Park, six miles distant. Presumably this turn to the west through Burleigh Park was taken to reach a convenient crossing of the river Welland about half-a‑mile above Stamford. Stukeley​13 found a very high ridge on the west of Burleigh Park, descending to the river, and he complains in a letter quoted by Gough​14 that "the overseers of the highways had in a sacrilegious manner digged it up to  p144 mend their wicked ways withal," and he gives a cross section of the ridge, showing a foundation two inches dee of small pebbles and blackish stuff 20 feet wide, upon the native stony ground, and a ridge made of stony ground three feet thick in the middle. Nothing now seems to remain but a parish boundary along the course there, and there is no trace of Ermingº Street across the meadows by the Welland, but on rising out of the valley a road takes the line, and after crossing the Tinwell road the ridge is observable under the present road. North of the road to Oakham the ridge was very plain for a mile until the land was enclosed about 30 years ago, and the sides were sloped down. It can still be seen as an undulation in a pasture field, and on through arable land until it approaches the road from Stamford to the north, alongside which the ridge is almost entire for more than a quarter of a mile between the remains of old thorn hedges 15 to 20 yards apart; it is cut through in several places to give access to fields from the modern road. A section was well exhibited in 1900 in a quarry at the top of the hill. It showed a ridge eight yards wide at the top, having on the west a sort of terrace or side road five yards wide, about four feet lower than the top of the ridge, and three feet above the surface of the field. In the top of the road was about a foot of fine rubble, under which was a layer of packed stone nine inches thick upon one foot six inches to two feet of light stoney sand and earth resting on one foot six inches of dark clayey soil which appeared to be the original surface  p145 overlying the stony subsoil. Stukeley​15 gives a good view looking north along the road which shows the terrace or side road on the west, and on the east the slope of the ridge unbroken, with a road then in use along the foot of it. The modern North Road descends the hill towards Casterton in a cutting, and, after it rejoins the line of Ermingº Street, a county boundary follows it for more than half-a‑mile. At Casterton, where there are some remains of a camp, the straight line which has been followed from Burleigh Park is swerved from to avoid the river, and is not altogether resumed until Tickencote Hall is passed. Then the road is straight for three miles, raised four, five, and six feet high with a width of eight yards, and with a parish boundary along it, after which there is a turn of about 30° towards the north, by which the road is kept upon the high ground. From this turn (345′) to Lincoln, 35 miles, Ermingº Street preserves the same general course, which though made up of many straight lengths is nowhere more than one and a half miles away from a straight line. The North Road follows it for three miles through Stretton as a wide raised road with a parish boundary along it for half-a‑mile, and then leaves the line, which is shown by a hedgerow on the east of the road with a parish boundary and a county boundary along it for a mile. Horsley tells us that in 1732 High Dyke was very magnificent between Stamford and Colsterworth​16 and the Roman ridge was no  p146 doubt incorporated in the modern road. At a point (394′) about a mile east of South Witham the North Road rejoins Ermingº Street, and there is a slight turn more to the north. Near North Witham the North Road finally leaves Ermingº Street, which continues straight on as a rough track as far as the road to Bourn, and then with little to mark its course for two miles to near Easton, where it is taken up by a highway now called High Dyke, which passes a quarter of a mile east of Great Ponton railway-station, and with a slight turn, on to the cross roads near Somerby. It is a narrow metalled road between fences 20 yards apart, and with a slight turn near Somerby (400′), continues with a parish boundary along it to Coldharbour, where the present road turns off to the east, and High Dyke goes on for six and three-quarters miles to beyond Ancaster, parish boundaries following it. It is a wide rough grass-grown road as far as Londonthorpe, beyond which a metalled road follows it. Horsley found the ridge very high for six miles before he came to Ancaster, and traces still remain. At Ancaster Ermingº Street passed through a Roman camp which can be traced on the north of the cross roads in the town, measuring about 300 yards by 230 yards. From the north of Ancaster railway-station, with a slight turn, a straight wide road called High Dyke road, with parish boundaries nearly all the way along it, runs for seven and a quarter miles to near Wellingore, and then, with a very slight turn, with parish boundaries along here and there, on for five and a half miles over  p147 Navenby Heath and Boothby Heath to Waterloo Farm, three and a half miles south of Lincoln. From Ancaster the course lies on high ground over­looking the valley of the Witham on the west and tens on the east. Stukeley​17 found the road very bold and perfect on Ancaster Heath, and Horsley​18 describes it as very visible over most part of the heaths from Ancaster to Lincoln. The heaths have since been enclosed, and the road a good deal altered. At Waterloo Farm High Dyke road ends, but fences continue the line of Ermingº Street on in the direction of the present road at Bracebridge, where the Foss way crossed the river Witham and joined it. Stukeley saw the profile of the road on the descent of the hill, 10 yards wide. The straight High Street seems to marks its course onwards to the Roman Lindum. In a length of about 1000 yards south of the crossing of the Great Northern Railway, a concreted causeway was uncovered in four places during the construction of sewers. It was from two feet six inches to three feet nine inches below the surface, and the concrete, eight inches to five feet thick, was on made ground from two to nine feet thick.​19 Further on, near the river Witham, the swamp is said to have been crossed on a piled foundation similar to that discovered on the north of the Medway, at Strood on Watling Street (p53). On the north of the river a portion of the Roman  p148 road was discovered nearly a yard below the surface, consisting of 10 to 14 inches of concrete of rubble stone on six inches of gravel.20

The first Roman Linduma on the hill above appears to have been a rectangle of about 400 yards north and south, and 430 yards east and west, extending from Newport gate to the brow of the steep hill, and including the castle and the cathedral. Another rectangle in the lower ground, of rather larger size, was afterwards added, extending southwards to the Stone Bow.

It is not certain that Iter V of Antonine passes over any part of Ermingº Street south of Lincoln. Camden, from a fanciful derivation, placed Durolipons at Godmanchester, in which he was not followed by Gale or Horsley, but the authors of the commentary on the fabricated Itinerary of Richard of Cirencester adopted the site, and it appears to have been generally accepted. But the distance from Godmanchester to Lincoln by Ermingº Street is but 70 miles, while that from Durolipons to Lindum is 91 M.P.

From the east gate of the upper city of Lindum a Roman road appears to have branched off in a north-easterly direction. A straight road is followed from four miles from the city boundary by a parish boundary which continues on in the same straight line for another mile to Langworth, beyond which the road takes up the line again for a short distance. It probably communicated with a road called High Street, which follows a ridge of the Wolds for 24 miles northwards  p149 from Horncastle to beyond Caistor. At Horncastle in Stukeley's time the remains of walls enclosing a rectangular camp, about 180 yards by 107 yards, were "manifest the whole compass round, and in some places pretty high."​21 High Street leaves the Lincoln road in about three miles, and passes by Sainton. It is not straight, but parish boundaries follow it continuously for 15 miles to two miles beyond Caistor.

(6) Lincoln to the Humber and the East Riding of Yorkshire

From the north of Lincoln (216′) the continuation of Ermingº Street, under the name of High Street or Humber Street, goes on to the Humber. For 24 miles the road runs in a straight line to near Appleby Lodge Farm (124′), one and a half miles north of Broughton, parish boundaries following it for 14½ miles continuously. From the point near Appleby Lodge Farm, the road continues in nearly the same direction, and where the present road turns off to Winterton the same line is carried on by a track for two miles further, where at the northern end of the higher ground between the Trent and Ancholme rivers, and between Winteringham and Winteringham Ings reclaimed from the Humber, is the site of the Roman station which was ploughed up about 1716, when many antiquities were found.​22 In 1700 High Street to the Humber was described​23 as consisting of nothing but earth cast up where it ran over open country and heath, but where it ran through  p150 woods as also being paved with great stones set on edge very close together. It was thus paved through Scawby Woods, and for a mile onwards to Thornholme Moor, and was seven yards wide. The paving lately remained in several places.

From Winteringham there was a passage over the Humber to Brough, where there are remains of a camp, and where on Castle Hill in a field called "The Burrs" numerous coins and other Roman remains have been found. Warburton's map of Yorkshire (1720), which has been already mentioned (p100), shows a Roman road visible from near Brough eastwards to Rowley, and by broken lines to Wawne Ferry over the river Hull, and thence, turning almost at right angles in a south-easterly direction towards Patrington. It must have crossed "carrs" and fens not much if at all above the level of the sea, and no traces of such a road now appear.

Towards the north, a Roman road followed the course of the present road through South Cave, to the north of which, at Drewton Bridge, it was found in 1851; a concrete-like layer, six inches thick, and five to seven yards wide.​24 It passed by South Newbald, through Sancton, and where the present road turns towards Market Weighton, it continued on in the same direction along Humber Street and West Street to Londesborough Park. In 1736 the Roman road had lately been found in the park, "very hard and of a material very scarce in that country."​25 The paving  p151 was bared for the whole width of 24 feet, and on it were to be seen the marks of wheeled carriages,​26 and it is said that masonry is still to be seen where the road crosses the boggy ground near the ponds.​27 The ridge is marked on the Ordnance map for one and a quarter miles through the park, and for half-a‑mile on the north of it over Nunburnholme Wold, from which a bridle road continues the line to Warter, where numerous Roman coins and ornaments have been found. From Warter the course is in a north-westerly direction along a wide, straight road for a mile and a quarter, and on to high ground (620′) on Codwold. It then descends into Millington Dale, where an ancient paved road remains, and Roman foundations and pavements have been found. The ridge is traceable for about a mile further on in the same direction on Millington Head, and again over Calais Wold to Garrowby Hill (805′). A survey made in 1744 for the Earl of Burlington shows this part of the Roman road with considerable accuracy. After crossing Garrowby Street, which leads from York towards Bridlington, the Roman road northwards follows a line of entrenchments, and then the present road seems to mark the course of it, keeping on the high ground, and passing round the head of Scotton Dale, and thence in a straight line, followed for a mile by a parish boundary, to a high point (751′) on Leavening Wold. It then turns more to the north again, and passing through Burythorpe, joins the road from  p152 Stamford Bridge to Malton, about two miles and a half from the latter place. This line of road from the Humber keeps on the wolds, avoiding the low-lying moors which stretch between the wolds and the river Derwent; and from Millington Head to Leavening Wold the course for six miles is along the water-parting between the Vale of York and the dales opening towards Holderness, in which tributaries of the river Hull rise.

The general line of Ermingº Street northwards is taken up by the Roman road called Wade's Causeway, extending to the coast near Whitby. There is, however, some uncertainty as to the connexion, and it will be more convenient not to follow the road farther until it is approached from York.

The course of a Roman road is shown by a dotted line on the Ordnance map, branching from the road which has now been followed near South Newbald, and joining the present road from Weighton to York near Shipton. This no doubt indicates the road described in 1852 as being very visible in several places to the south of Market Weighton, and as far as the Mile House on the road to Holme​28 The present road follows the course of the old road by Thorpe le Street for five miles, having a parish boundary along it for a mile and a half. The course of the Roman road was traced on in 1892 over Barmby Moor Common as a raised mound, and towards Black Dyke a layer of concrete was found, at a ft below the surface, 15 feet wide and nearly a foot thick. The  p153 course onwards was marked by boulders in a straight line across the fields, by Peacock House, Whinberry Hill, and High Catton Common to Hunger Hill Moor, High Catton Grange, pointing apparently to about a mile to the east of Stamford Bridge.​29 Warburton's map marks the road as visible and follows nearly the course of the present road through Market Weighton to Barmby Moor Inn, and thence over the low-lying moors and across the river Derwent at Kexby to Dunnington and York.

(7) Lincoln to Tadcaster

With the rise of York, a way to the north without the inconvenience of a passage two miles wide across the Humber became necessary, and the road by Doncaster was made. It is followed by Iter V (London to Carlisle) and Iter VIII (York to London), and the Roman milliary now in the cloisters at Lincoln dedicated to Victorinus (A.D. 265‑7) is supposed to give the distance, 14 M.P. to Segelocum, the first station on it. This road, which is called Ermingº Street when it gets into Yorkshire, branches out of the straight Humber Street almost at right angles at a point three and a half miles north of Lincoln. Camden says that it was called Old Street, and that the ridge was very conspicuous.​30 For two miles the course is now across fields with traces of the ridge remaining, after which it joins Tillbridge Lane and continues in exactly the same line for eight miles to Littleborough, passing close to Stow Park railway-station. A causeway leads to the Trent, which  p154 was crossed by a paved ford. Gale saw it entire in the middle of the eighteenth century, a causeway 18 feet wide held up by piles. It was removed as a hindrance to navigation in 1820, and a man who was engaged in the work said that the ford was paved with rough, square stones, and on each side were oak piles 10 or 12 feet long, with timber cills across from one to the other.​31 On the west bank of the river, Littleborough, the Roman Segelocum, or Agelocum, is situated. From Littleborough there is a highway in a line with Tillbridge Lane to near Sturton le Steeple; and between the latter place and North Wheatley, and on by Clayworth and Everton to Bawtry, there are roads which may indicate the line of the Roman road. At Bawtry the river Idle is crossed, and Ermingº Street turns to the north, followed by the North Road, and county and parish boundaries along this, for three and a half miles, indicate that it is on the line of the Roman road. After crossing the river Torne at Rossington, the old road seems to have gone straight to Doncaster (Danum), the North Road turning off one and a half miles further on. From Doncaster, where no traces of the Roman Danum now appear, the North Road is on the line of Ermingº Street for a mile and a half as far as Bodles. It is on a causeway which may be the Roman ridge widened out, and it is followed by a parish boundary. At Bodles the modern roads branch right and left, and the Roman ridge continues on in the same straight line for a mile, pointing to Leys  p155 Hill, parish boundaries following it. At first the ridge is not conspicuous, then it becomes a narrow lane raised one or two feet above the adjoining fields, and further on the ridge appears three to four foot high and 15 feet wide. There is a turn towards the north a little south of Green Lane, after crossing which the ridge appears 17 to 18 feet wide and six feet high, carrying now only a field road. Where it is cut into at Green Lane the ridge exhibited in 1899 marl and stone in thin layers. It continues as great for half-a‑mile to Tithe Leys, on high ground with a rock sub-soil and commanding an extensive view to the north-east. On entering Woodlands at Tithe Leys the parish boundary keeps on the higher ground to the east of the present road, apparently indicating the course of Ermingº Street. Beyond Woodlands the ridge is again very perfect, 15 feet wide and six or eight feet high, the side slopes overgrown with bushes. At the road from Brodsworth to Adwick le Street there is a turn to the north, and the ridge continues much the same for a mile until it approached the Hampole road. It is a mere farm road, but so high above the fields that cart-ways slant obliquely up the side slopes, which are so steep that they must be built up with stone. It is difficult to say why so high a ridge was made on rock, on an upland over­looking everything, but this is not a solitary instance of a Roman road raised high in a similar situation. After crossing the fields, a parish boundary following it until the Pontefract road joins it, and continues on in the same line  p156 for another three-quarters of a mile, when the present road turns due north for half-a‑mile and then north-west for a quarter of a mile to the Skel Brook, past Robin Hood's Well, and then resumes for half-a‑mile the same line which it followed before it turned due north. The parish boundaries continue to follow the present road round this angle and onwards for a mile to the south end of the common, near the cross roads, where the present road leaves the boundary. This follows the ridge for half-a‑mile, and then the road rejoins it, and runs on straight for one mile to the cross roads near Walton Wood (240′). Stukeley noticed a very high and perfect ridge hereabout.32

To this point parish or township boundaries are continuous from Doncaster for eight and a half miles. There is then a turn, and the present road runs straight nearly to the river Went, the ridge of the old road remaining conspicuous. North of the Went a parish boundary again joins the road, and follows it for a mile and a half to Houndhill Hall, where the present road turns off to the north and the course of Ermingº Street is shown by a line of parish boundaries continuing on along fences, with traces of a ridge, for nearly two miles to Causeway Lane one mile west of Pontefract.

Causeway Lane appears to be part of a Roman road running in a westerly direction by Street House and High Street, crossing Riknild Street; and which perhaps fell into the road by Marsden to Manchester.

The course of Ermingº Street continues northwards  p157 from Causeway Lane along a lane to Park Lane, where, half-a‑mile east of Featherstone, the ridge is shown on the Ordnance map, but it is not now to be seen. There is no trace for two miles, and then from Round Hill, half-a‑mile south of Castleford, Beancroft Lane, in a line with the road north of Castleford, marks the course to the station Legeolium, or Lagecium, supposed now to be occupied by Castleford railway-station. The river Aire was crossed a quarter of a mile west of Castleford Bridge, in the line of Rectory Street, where Stukeley saw the paved road.33

From Doncaster the course of Ermingº Street is not very direct, but from Round Hill, south of Castleford, it is straight with very slight turns for eight and a half miles. On the north of the Aire and the canal, Ermingº Street, here called also Roman Ridge, is joined by the present main road, along which parish boundaries run continuously for seven miles to the river at Aberford.

Camden "travelled along the bold ridge of the Roman military way" and in 1731 Horsley saw it almost all the way from Castleford to Aberford. The modern road is generally 20 yards between the fences, and in some places wider, and the ridge upon which it runs is now about eight yards wide and as much as five feet high on the high ground. It would seem that the Roman ridge was widened on one side for the modern road, so that the foot of the slope extends to the fence on that side, while on the other side the original space remains between  p158 the ridge and the hedge, with trees and bushes on it in places. Across this space raised ramps give access to and from adjacent fields. At Hookmoor the modern road leaves the ridge, which continues straight on, but narrower, with the parish boundary following it. It is soon joined again by the modern road, which, it may be observed, is not raised above the ground where it is away from the Roman ridge, and the latter soon ceases to be noticeable north of Hookmoor. At Aberford there is a slight deviation from the straight line, which is resumed on rising out of the valley, and is continued to Hazelwood Schools, a mile north of Aberford. There the ridge leaves the present road and curves eastward over Branham Moor followed for half-a‑mile along the north side by a parish boundary. Gough​34 describes the road on the moor as being "in many places exceeding perfect," and quotes Leland as saying that he never in all his travels saw so perfect a Roman road as this. An engraving in 1736 shows it as still in use by horsemen and packhorses.​35 The moor is now enclosed, and the ridge is in part ploughed up, but it is still plainly traceable. Where it is within the enclosure of Hazelwood it is about four feet high, with a rounded top about five yards wide. A section of the upper two feet, visible at the fence, showed it to be of pebbles and gravel in a marl clay, and loose cobble stones seems to be remains of the paving. The ridge joins the Tadcaster road, which for a mile follows the line of the old road on the  p159 original embankment widened, and then turns off to the north, the ridge and a parish boundary continuing on for three-quarters of a mile to Stutton Moor Lane, where there seems to have been a change of direction, but no certain traces of the Roman road appear further on towards Tadcaster.

There are, however, traces of ridges in other directions hereabouts which are somewhat perplexing. One, which is shown on the Ordnance map, runs due west by Bramham Moor Farm to Headley Plantation, and it is crossed by another which apparently connected the road to Tadcaster with the Roman road to the north by St. Helen's Ford. The Ordnance map also marks a Roman road west of Bramham along Stony Gate, turning to the south of Bardsey, and continued on by a dotted line to the Roman camp near Adel. Sir Charles Newton in his map of Yorkshire, prepared for the Archaeological Institute in 1847, does not notice this road, but marks an ascertained Roman road passing east and west from Bramham Moor along the south of Bramham Park and on from Thorner to the Roman camp half-a‑mile north of Adel. It presumably continued on over the Chevin, south of Otley, where there are traces of a road bearing the name of York Gate, which has already been mentioned (p110).


The road to the north by St. Helen's ford, called Rudgate, leaves the road to Tadcaster as mentioned above. It passes through the fields, where the ridge is traceable, and falls into the highway leading to St. Helen's Ford, now disused.  p160 From the north of the ford the grass-grown road has a parish boundary along it, and from the turn to Thorpe Arch there is a narrow modern road between hedges about 14 yards apart. There are slight traces of the ridge further on, and the road is of varying width as it has been more or less encroached upon, and it is not very straight in general direction. From the cross roads about three-quarters of a mile south of the river Nidd, the ridge of the Roman road is visible on the west of the present road, in line with a road on the north of the river, and the same line is continued on by the road straight for one and a half miles to Providence Green. In 1736 the Roman road was very apparent,​36 and there are still signs of the ridge, and parish boundaries follow the road. At Providence Green the road from York to the north seems to have come in.

(8) Tadcaster to York

Tadcaster is no doubt the site of the Roman Calcaria, which must have been at Castle Hill on the south-west of the river Wharfe. The river was probably crossed to the north of the church in the line of an old street on the east of the river. About half-a‑mile from Tadcaster the Roman road appears a quarter of a mile north of the modern York road as a wide grass-grown farm road, at one part with a hedge on one side only, and so continues in a straight line for a mile and a half with a parish boundary along it. It was formerly called "The Old Street." At Street Houses the present road takes the line, but soon leaves it, the parish boundary continuing  p161 on across fields without any other trace of the old road for a mile, and then a lane with a parish boundary along it continues the line to Queen's Arms Inn. There the present road rejoins the old road, which kept on the ridge of high ground crossed by the Great Northern Railway about two miles from York. Parish boundaries follow the road for two miles from Queen's Arms, making seven miles of parish boundaries along the nine miles of road from Tadcaster to York. Blossom Street and Micklegate Bar are probably on the line of the Roman road, pointing one to Stonegate, the street which passes through the Roman city Eboracum on the east side of the rive Ouse. The original rectangle seems to have been about 550 yards from south-west to north-east, and if Stonegate represents the middle street, about 470 yards from north-west to south-east. The breadth in this direction is, however, sometimes stated to be 650 yards, the position of the Roman wall on the south-east being uncertain.

(9) York to Stamford Bridge and Malton: Wade's Causeway

From the south-east gate of York a Roman road followed the course of the present road along a ridge of ground rising above the moors and curving round to Stamford Bridge. Parish boundaries follow the road almost continuously to Gate Helmsley, and then a parish boundary runs close alongside it to the river Derwent. In 1736 vestiges of the old road remained here and there.​37 Warburton's map (1720) shows by broken lines a Roman road turning northwards  p162 on the west side of the Derwent near Stamford Bridge, and passing by Whitewell to the east side of Castle Howard. There seems to be no trace of it now.

On the east side of the Derwent a Roman road is supposed to have turned northwards about a mile and a half from Stamford Bridge, following the course of Hook Street to Gally Gap, and continuing on to join the road which has already been traced northwards from the Humber (p151), on the high ground to the north of Thornthorpe. Thence in two and a half miles Malton is reached, an undoubted Roman station on the north bank of the Derwent.

From Gally Gap a road has been supposed to have branched, crossing the river Derwent near Firby, and continuing on between Malton and Castle Howard by a course not ascertained, to the river Rye at Newsham Bridge. After crossing the Derwent, this supposed road would fall into that marked on Warburton's map, but there are no traces of it, nor of a road from Malton joining it. Drake, in 1736, could find no traces of a road either towards York or towards Malton further south than near the river Rye, where he says the stratum appeared very plain, composed of large blue pebbles, some of a ton weight.​38 Warburton's map marks the road as visible northwards from the river Rye, and Drake found it discernible in places. Remains have been found near Barugh, and Drake saw it at Riseborough. Warburton marks it through Welton and Cawthorne;  p163 the course cannot now be traced, but at the beginning of the last century it was visible in Cawthorne village, and was very distinct on approaching Cawthorne camps​39 — a remarkable group of camps situated on a high ridge (650′) over­looking a deep valley on the north.

There are four camps; the most westerly is rectangular, with a double ditch, and measures 133 yards by 120 yards from crest to crest of the rampart. There are entrances in the middle of three sides, the fourth being on the edge of the steep slope. Adjoining is a roughly oval camp, measuring about 280 yards by 110 yards, upon which one angle of the westerly camp encroaches, and to the east of it is a roughly square camp, about 186 yards by 183 yards, opening into another similar camp of rather larger size. The entrances to all but the first-named and strongest camp are covered on the outside by a curved prolongation of the rampart across them. The ground is now planted with firs, and covered up with high bracken.

The course of the Roman road northwards from these camps is much plainer. It is called Wade's Causeway, the story being that a giant of that name made it for his wife's convenience in going to the moors to milk her cows. The general course of the road for two and three-quarters miles appears to have been laid out in a straight line from the west of the Roman camps (650′) to a point (825′) on Pickering Moor, a quarter of a mile to the north of Stape.  p164 It descended by a steep bank on the west of the oval camp, which appears to have been altered at the end in making the road. Drake shows it in this position in his plan of the camps, and states​40 that at the foot of the steep slope the causeway was very plain, 12 feet wide, raised in some places three feet from the surface, and paved with large stones. The paving was taken up within the memory of man to build walls. On the moor, to the north of the beck, enough of the stones remain to mark the course of the road on to the enclosures near Elleron Lodge, north of which, where the high ground on Pickering Moor is hidden by an intervening hill, the site of the Roman road, according to the Ordnance map, lies a little to the west of the straight line. It rejoins it again when Flamborough Rigg has been reached, and the ridge is traceable across the fields to Stape, where, in the garth of the first house come to, some of the paving remains, the rest having been taken up not many years ago. About 70 yards further on, near the chapel on the Stape road, the paving remains entire. There is no trace of the road across the steep valley of the Stape beck; it possibly bent to the west, and crossed where the present road passes the beck. On the moor towards the point (825′) to which the course of the road was directed, the ridge is plain in the same straight line as before. It is called "The Auld Wife's Trod" (i.e. footway), and passes "The Auld Wife's Well," and the paving is to be found a few inches  p165 below the turf. The road then turns slightly towards the east, and for about 300 yards the pavement is entire at about nine inches below the surface of the moor. It is 17 feet wide, and on each side are ditches. In the enclosures near Keysbeck Lodge the paving has been removed for building walls, but the ridge can be traced. The pavement was described by a man who saw it taken up about 25 years ago, as of flat stones gathered from the moor, laid close and fitted together, the outside row on each side being set upright as a kerb. This entirely agrees with the paving which now remains. On the north side of Keys beck the pavement has been dug up to build the walls of enclosures, but beyond the enclosures of Keys beck House the ridge again appears for half-a‑mile on the moor, pointing to the ford across Rutmoor beck at its junction with Keys beck. Over Wheeldale Moor the course of the road can be traced, and the paving is to be found a few inches below the surface for about half-a‑mile where it has escaped being taken up to build enclosure walls. Nearer to the enclosures the road can still be traced almost on to Wheeldale Gill which it seems to have crossed near its confluence with Wheeldale beck. The road must have then turned north-westward, perhaps following about the same course as the present lane from the ford, to the high ground of Hazel Head, where traces remain. It is again traceable on the west of Julian Park House, and about a mile to the north of it. It seems to have slanted down Lease Rigg towards Grosmont bridge,  p166 near which it crossed the river Esk, on the north of which some remains were to be seen in 1846 to the west of Grosmont Priory. It then turned more to the east and passed by Newbiggin and over Aislaby Moor. Drake in 1736 appears to have traced the road towards Dunsley Bay, but it is difficult to conceive why it should have gone there, with the more convenient harbour at Whitby close by. The supposition that it did so probably arose from the belief, originating with Camden, that Dunsley Bay is the Dunum Sinus of Ptolemy.​b But if his degrees of latitude and longitude be followed, Dunum Sinus in relation to York, would be at Filey or Bridlington. The last portion of the road visible in 1817 was where the Whitby road crossed it, near the third milestone. At that time several portions of the causeway were visible on Lease Rigg, and it is thus described​41 — "The foundation is usually a stratum of gravel or rubbish, over which is a strong pavement of stones placed with the flattest side uppermost, above these another stratum of gravel or earth to fill up and smooth the surface, the middle higher than the sides, which are secured with a border of flat stones placed edgeways, the elevation was in many places two or three feet, there was sometimes a gutter on each side, and the breadth exclusive of the gutters was 16 feet. The causeway preserved generally a rectilinear course, avoiding marshes, precipices, and sudden descents."

Wade's Causeway exhibits the gradual destruction  p167 of a paved Roman road in operation. On the moors, away from "intakes" or enclosures, the paving is to be found beneath a few inches of soil very much as it was when Roman traffic on it ceased. Where pieces of the moor have been enclosed, the stones of the paving have been taken up for building walls, both from the road within the intake and for some distance outside. On the unenclosed moor enough is left to be mapped as traces of a Roman road, but within the intake cultivation soon obliterates all traces. In newer intakes an undulation in the ground shows the course of the road, but that can only be seen after a time where walls have been built across the ridge.

(10) Stamford Bridge to Bridlington

From Stamford Bridge eastward parish boundaries continue to follow the present road, called Garrowby Street, for nine miles and a quarter. On Green Wold, seven miles from Stamford Bridge, the Roman road from the Humber northwards crosses Garrowby Street at the highest point (808′), and the high wolds are entered upon, cut into by deep, narrow dales, and traversed by long lines of intrenchments. For considerable distances Roman roads and intrenchments follow the same course; whether the roads took the line of older intrenchments, or have been intrenched after Roman times, is a question which must be decided by excavation, or by the careful observation of the evidence afforded when the earthworks are levelled, a proceeding continually going on. Confusion has certainly arisen in consequence of long intrenchments having been mistaken for Roman roads,  p168 and sometimes perhaps the contrary. Parish boundaries follow both Roman roads and intrenchments.

On Garrowby Hill the Roman road is described as running on the top of one of a double line of British intrenchments, which subsequently accompany it for over a mile. In about two miles the Roman road divides. The more southerly branch, under the names of Green Lane, Low Street, and York Road, follows a green road on the south of Fridaythorpe, along which a parish boundary runs to the Wetwang road, and then continues across the fields to the green road again, and follows it for three and a half miles. Where the Malton and Driffield Railway crosses it, a Romano-British cemetery has been discovered.​42 About a mile further on an intrenchment is marked on the Ordnance map of 1898 for a mile and a half alongside the green lane, but it has been levelled, except for half-a‑mile through the wood near Sledmere Monument. It there consists of a double ditch and rampart, or the ridge of a Roman road entrenched. To the east of Sledmere Monument what is in appearance the embankment of a Roman road without intrenchment remains for nearly 400 yards, six yards wide across the top, and as much as six feet high. Then for about 100 yards it has been levelled, and when it again appears it is complicated with intrenchments, which curve round the north side of Warren Dale opening out towards Holderness, and which the parish boundary follows. The course of the Roman road onwards is somewhat doubtful; by  p169 some it has been supposed to have continued by Cottam Warren House and Dane's Graves to Kilham, following parish boundaries and intrenchments, and thence on by Wold Gate to Bridlington and Flamborough Head. Parish boundaries follow Wold Gate for five miles from Kilham to within two and a half miles of Bridlington. Warburton's map seems to show the course in the direction of a ridge which is called on a late six-inch Ordnance map "track of a supposed raised road," and on by "Intrenchments" about a mile to the north of Kilham, which are marked as an ascertained Roman road on Sir C. Newton's map, and by Rudston to Bridlington.

The other road, branching near Fridaythorpe, appears to be represented by the present road to Fimber, perhaps continued on by the bit of ridge to be seen north of Fimber station to what is marked "Intrenchment" on the Ordnance map, through Badger Wood. The Roman road was found further on in Sledmere Park at the end of the eighteenth century, and there seem to be some traces of the ridge along the road, called High Street, beyond Sledmere. In about a mile the present road turns to the right, but the course of the ridge can be traced on in the fields, and more evidently where the wood has recently been grubbed, and through the wood beyond. A Roman ridge intrenched with ditch and rampart, or a double intrenchment, is plain. After crossing the road from Cowlam to Lutton a ridge is visible for about 80 yards, and the parish boundary, which has been followed for a mile, continues on rather  p170 further in the same line, marked "Intrenchment" on the Ordnance map, but it is now only a straight hedge. At four miles from Sledmere there is a slight turn in the ridge shown on the Ordnance map, and a parish boundary for three-quarters of a mile to the Scarborough road, and a ridge or intrenchment beyond, carry on the line in the direction of Filey, eight miles distant. The present road from Sledmere to Rudston, marked "Roman road" in the latest Ordnance map, runs parallel with the line which has just been followed, and about half-a‑mile to the south of it. This road is followed for four miles and a half by parish boundaries, and from a mile and a half west of Rudston to Bridlington it is marked an ascertained Roman road in Sir Charles Newton's map.

Drake, writing in 1736,​43 tells us that from Bridlington Bay the Roman ridge was very apparent for many miles over the wolds in the direction of York. His map shows a straight road through Rudston and Sledmere to Malton, towards which he says the stratum was easily traced by Wharram-le‑Street to Settrington Brow. A road, supposed to be Roman, passes two and a half miles north of Sledmere and Wharram-le‑Street, and by Settrington Brow towards Malton. The Ordnance map marks "Intrenchments" along it on the Wolds, and it is said to be traceable across the fields to Norton, on the south side of the Derwent, opposite Malton. This is perhaps the line of the road to Malton referred to by Drake. His map is very inaccurate in topography,  p171 and there is reason to think that he did not always distinguish between the ridge of a Roman road and an intrenchment. In 1862​44 a section of a Roman road was exposed at Norton at a depth of eight feet. It was 18 inches thick, and appeared to continue across the river in the direction of the large camp at Malton.

A road by Wharram-le‑Street and Settrington Brow to Malton is more in the line of an "ascertained Roman road," on Sir C. Newton's map, from Malton to beyond Wetwang; and the track bearing the name of "The Broad Balk," running northwards from Wharram-le‑Street toward Settrington Brow, may represent it. Southwards the present road to Sledmere and Fimber railway-station is followed for two and a quarter miles by parish boundaries, and bears the name of High Street. It crosses Green Lane, or Low Street, near the Romano-British cemetery, and until the enclosures at the beginning of the last century, it ran straight on from the west of Wetwang, passing half-a‑mile to the west of Tibthorpe, as a raised mound, and on to the west of Bainton. It can still be traced across the fields and in the hedgerows.45

There is much yet to be learned about the relation of the Roman roads and the earthworks of this part of the country. In the south of England, Wansdyke and other intrenchments have been proved to be post-Roman, Wansdyke plainly running for many miles along a Roman road; and it may very well be that  p172 the Roman roads on the Wolds were made use of for defence against later invaders.

Iter I of Antonine continues from York to Derventio, Delgovicia, and Praetorium. Stamford Bridge, on the Derwent, seven miles from York, is generally supposed to be the site of Derventio, and by distance onwards, either Malton, Warter, or the Romano-British cemetery to the north of Wetwang, would fit the position of Delgovicia. Twenty-five M.P. from Malton would reach Bridlington Bay, which, of the several sites suggested for it, seems to be as likely as any for the station Praetorium.

(11) York to the north-east and north

A Roman road probably left York in a line with Stonegate, following the course of the present Malton road, along which there are some lengths of parish boundary.

It must have joined a Roman road shown on Warburton's map from the north of Stamford Bridge, through Sutton-le‑Forest, Easingwold, Thirsk, and Northallerton, and joining Ermingº Street on the north of Catterick. It is marked by Warburton on his map as visible through Thormanby and by Thirsk to Northallerton, and he mentions it in a letter to Gale as more entire from Easingwold to Thirsk. It was faintly distinguishable at the beginning of last century between Thirsk and Northallerton, and there seem to have been some remains between the latter town and Catterick.​46 The only trace now appears to be the road called "The Street," passing through Old Thirsk in the direction of Easingwold.

 p173  Another road left York by what is now Bootham Bar, outside which many Roman interments have been found. Boundaries run along the road for about a mile from York, and in places further on along the road and across country in the direction of Easingwold, where it probably joined the road last mentioned. Drake continued the road by Newburgh to the Hambleton Hills and Teesmouth. Another Roman road seems to have branches northwards from the Thirsk and Catterick road near Thornton-le‑Street. At about two and a half miles north of the latter place a parish boundary begins to follow a lane, first for two miles, and then on in the same line for half-a‑mile, then nearly the same line is taken up by a lane and a parish boundary to Bullamoor, and after a break of one and a quarter miles, boundaries continue in a straight line from Hallikeld for five miles to the Wiske river, lanes following the same line for most of the way. After a gap of a quarter of a mile the line is taken up by a lane, joined in five-eighths of a mile by parish boundaries which follow it for two and a half miles almost to the river Tees. For 123 miles the indications of a Roman road are thus evident, and on the north side of the Tees a line of highways continues on nearly due north for about eight miles, by Fighting Cocks, with boundaries along it for two miles, and on by Street House and Stanton-le‑Street. This would give a road to the north on the east of the rivers Ouse and the Swale, in the direction of Chester-le‑Street.

The Author's Notes:

1 'The Four Roman Ways,' Archaeological Journal, vol. XIV.

2 The Making of England, p49.

3 Parentalia, p265.

4 Camden's Britannia, vol. II p68.

5 Lysons, Magna Britannia, vol. I p27.

6 Moreton, Natural History of Northamptonshire, p502.

7 Itinerarium Curiosum, 1722, p81.

8 Diary, April 16, and Letter to R. Gale, May 12, 1739. Surtees Soc., vols. LXXVI and LXXX.

9 At Caistor a black glazed pottery ware was manufactured which is found at many Roman sites.

10 Itinerarium Curiosum, p84.

11 A drain constructed by the Romans along the edge of the Fens to intercept the upland waters. It can be traced from the south of Peterborough to Lincoln.

12 Ancient Cambridgeshire, 1883, p54.

13 Itinerarium Curiosum, p84.

14 Camden's Britannia, II.292.

15 Iter Boreale, Plate 14.

16 Britannia Romana, II p433.

17 Itinerarium Curiosum, p87.

18 Brit. Rom., vol. III p433.

19 Drury, Jour. Arch. Ass., XLVI.221.

20 Gent.'s Mag., 1838, vol. II p181.

21 Itinerarium Curiosum, p30.

22 ibid., p95.

23 De la Pryme, Phil. Trans., No. 263, p561.

24 Gent.'s Mag., 1852, part I p483.

25 Drake, Eboracum, p32.

26 Drake, Letter to Stukeley, Surtees Soc., vol. 80, p359.

27 Rev. E. M. Cole, Trans. E. Riding Antiq. Soc., vol. VII p44.

28 Gent.'s Mag., 1852, part I p83.

29 Cole, Trans. E. Riding Antiq. Soc., vol. VII p38.

30 Britannia, II.337.

31 W. T. Watkin, Archaeolog. Jour., vol. XLIII, p12.

32 Iter Boreale, p76.

33 Iter Boreale, p76.

34 Camden, vol. III p194.

35 Plate in Drake's Eboracum.

36 F. Drake, Eboracum, p19.

37 F. Drake, Eboracum, p34.

38 Eboracum, p36.

39 Young, History of Whitby, 1817, II p694.

40 Eboracum, p35.

41 Young's History of Whitby, p706.

42 Mortimer, Proc. York Geolog. and Poly. Soc., 1891.

43 Eboracum, p29.

44 Gent.'s Mag., 1862, part II p557.

45 Cole, Trans. E. Riding Antiq. Soc., vol. VII p43.

46 Gough's Camden, III p329

Thayer's Notes:

a The first Roman Lindum: See Stukeley's map of Lincoln.

b the belief that Dunsley Bay is the Dunum Sinus of Ptolemy: Ptolemy places Dunum Sinus "on the eastern and southern side [of Britannia] next to which is the Germanic Ocean", at 57°30N and 20°15 E of the Blessed Isles. He places Eboracum at 57°20N and 20°00 E.

Filey (54N12 modern latitude) and Bridlington (54N05), being points on the coast within 15′ N of the latitude of York (53N58), do in fact seem reasonable; and Dunsley Bay (54N30) somewhat too far. On the other hand, arguments from Ptolemy need to make wider allowances; in the matter at hand, for example, Ptolemy puts the coast only 15′ E of York: the modern figure is almost a full degree E at Bridlington, but in fact about the requisite 15′ E at Dunsley Bay — so that either area seems equally probable to me.

Dunum is of course an exceedingly common Celtic placename, applied to almost any high point, so that toponymy really sheds little light here.

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7 Jun 03