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The Roman Road from Maiden Castle to Church Brough, Margary 82

This section of the Stainmore road was mapped only partially by the Ordnance Survey in the nineteenth century and then largely forgotten. Work by Hugh Toller, Bryn Gethin, Mike Haken and David Ratledge using Lidar, aerial photographs, drone imagery and old fashioned walking has now completed the route with high confidence.

location

The route initially follows the A66 but turns off at Slapestone Bridge and heads over Long Rigg & Limes Head before a spectacular double zig-zag descent to Powbrand Sike for the final approach to Brough via Augill Castle. Interestingly this final stretch to Brough appears to be aligned on Maiden Castle.

There is a suggestion that that there were two Roman routes here. The second via Hard Hills and Forest Farm close to the modern A66. There is some evidence for this but it could just as easily be an early turnpike. At least we now know the route of one Roman road for certain!

route-map
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Note the above map above omits the stretch under the modern A66 to Maiden Castle. - see below for the route in the vicinity of Maiden Castle.


Maiden Castle - aerial photo

The route is assumed to have passed through the centre of the fortlet. This was overlaid by a later packhorse track just to confuse matters. Margary believed the dogleg road bypassing the fort on its east and north represented the line but this appears to be the early turnpike. In fact the whole of the route of this road is confused by many alternative tracks of various ages descending Stainmore.

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MaidenCastle

View to Slapestone Bridge from Long Rigg

This is the view looking east from Long Rigg where the Roman road slants across the slope from Slapestone Bridge in the direction of Long Rigg. The next image is an aerial photo of the same length.

Margary had the road turning off the current A66 at Hard Hills. However, there doesn't appear to be any evidence supporting this just an assumption that the modern road follows the Roman line. There is however, plenty of evidence for it leaving the line of the A66 at Slapestone Bridge as the next 3 images show.

Image: David Ratledge

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Agger to Slapestone Bridge

The first clear evidence that the Roman road did indeed turn off the current line of the A66 at Slapestone Bridge. The aligns perfectly with the the two stretches visible on the next image and the Roman road over Long Rigg.

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Approaching Stonelands

Long Rigg - agger straight-on

This is the crucial piece of evidence for the road from Long Rigg heading straight on to Slapestone Bridge. The agger and ditches in the bracken/rough grass point unmistakably straight on and not curving to hard Hills like the modern road.

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straight on

Long Rigg.

Here the Roman road is around 30 metres south of the modern road and shows clearly in the fields. This stretch is recorded on OS maps but modern ones seem to now place it on the modern road which is incorrect.

Image: David Ratledge

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long rigg

Limes Head.

The route has a short chicane to change its alignment from Long Rigg to Limes Head near Cocklake Hills. Here is passing to the north of the OS trig point.

Drone image courtesy of Mike Haken

 

 

 

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Limes Head

Descent from Limes Head.

There are several alternative tracks in the vicinity presumably marking many diversions of the route over the later centuries but this descent from Limes Head is so substantial it can only be Roman . Limes Head is just off the top of this view.

Drone image courtesy of Mike Haken

 

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Ascent Limes Head

Descent from Lime Head - ground level view.

This is looking up the slope to Limes Head. The road (with stones) and ditches is very clear and substantial but much damaged, presumably by water action.

Image: David Ratledge

 

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Ascent Limes Head

Turn at the Acute Angled Wall, NY822141.

Here the road turns from the descent from Limes Head to head west and is very obvious where it passes under the wall.

Image: David Ratledge

 

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acute wall turn

Agger NY820142.

This is the slightly curving stretch approaching the top of the double zig-zag descent and was recorded on early OS maps.

Image: Hugh Toller

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3D Lidar image

Double Zig-zag descent. Fabulous piece of Roman engineering to drop down to Powbrand Sike. Again there are several later diversions evident which presumably bypassed the Roman route when it became no longer serviceable.

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double zig-zag

Zig-zag and agger of the descent to Powbrand Sike NY816137.

A little more subtle than the Lidar image above but still very evident.

Image: Hugh Toller

 

 

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zig-zag

Agger North East of Park House, NY814137.

Visible from the public footpath is the agger crossing the fields and heading towards Augill Castle and Brough.

Image: Hugh Toller

 

 

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Park House

Lidar Image - Brough Approach

First spotted by Bryn Gethin, the approach to Brough passes under Augill Castle and surprisingly crosses rather low lying marshy ground..

There is what appears to be a possible later route, exactly parallel on the southern side which avoids the marshy area, very probably a later Roman diversion. It runs straight all the way to the zig-zag descent. Seems too much of a coincidence not to be Roman.

 

 

 

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Brough

Lidar Image - Brough Road Layout (Probable)

The roads around Brough fort are based on interpolation of the various routes that converge on the site.

 

 

 

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brough layout

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Last update: July 2018

© David Ratledge