Lancs Roman Roads

 

Welcome to Lancashire's Roman Road Web Pages

The pages have been updated for 2020 as a result of new LiDAR data has being released for parts of Lancashire The roads have now been split into individual Margary sections but have been grouped together as before. The opportunity was taken to expand the amount of information provided for virtually every road but especially so in the Greater Manchester area. This includes new suggestions as to where the roads were set-out from, deduced from 3D Lidar virtual reality models and new contour mapping.

What is remarkable is how our Roman road map has now been filled in with many puzzling gaps eliminated.

NEWS UPDATES:

1. The route of the Manchester to Melandra Castle Roman Road has now been located. Thanks to Neil Buckley who spotted the ummistakeable signs of the road at Matley, which has enabled the route to determined with high confidence.

2. The Roman road from Ribchester to Catterall was excavated in 2019 by Wyre Archaeology near the Brock river. We were able to stand on the surface of this long lost road - alomost certainly the first to do so for probably over 1000 years. Full details on the Ribchester-Catterall page - see below.

3. Just when everything seemed to have been sorted out then a new fort has popped up with probably 2 associated roads. The long suspected fort at Burscough has now been confirmed by excavation (Stephen Baldwin, CBA NW Conference, 2018) and by geophys (Wigan AS, Bill Aldridge). However, as the site is currently unlisted and therefore unprotected, its precise position has been requested to be kept secret. It is hoped that this will be resolved soon but until then I have not included Lidar images of the fort or the roads immediately adjacent to it.

lancs map

Road numbers are those devised
by Ivan Margary

Introduction

Lancashire has some of the Country's most spectacular Roman Roads and in tracing them we will travel through some of Lancashire's finest countryside seeing many stunning views. There are very few sites in England where the Roman Road surface has been exposed and put on display. Lancashire has one of them and you can literally walk in the footsteps of the Legions!

It was reading an article by the former Deputy County Surveyor of Lancashire, J M Whiteley, that inspired me to first produce web pages describing all Lancashire's Roman roads for Lancashire County Council 20 years ago. It was possibly the first review to use the then new technology of GIS (Geographic Information System) to combine old and modern maps, contour maps and aerial photographs from the 1940s, 1960s and the present. However, the last few years has seen a transformation in our understanding of Lancashire's Roman road network as a consequence of Lidar data becoming freely available. The use of Lidar data (basically high precision height data) to reveal the course of Roman roads has been a great success throughout the country. Imagery derived from this data is often able to show clearly the surviving remains of the road agger, terraces, side ditches and cuttings, often where they cannot be identified on the ground through traditional fieldwork. This has resulted in almost every road in Lancashire being located with high confidence. The raw Lidar data used here is courtesy and copyright the Environment Agency.

The original version of these web pages was available for many years on Lancashire County Council's web site. However, these pages were removed by LCC in December 2014 along with considerable other valuable historical information regarding Lancashire's highway heritage. The county no longer has aCounty Archaeologist - the cutbacks have taken their toll. So the opportunity was therefore taken to update everything and re-host them. Thanks are due to Peter Iles, the former Specialist Advisor for Archaeology for Lancashire, for his advice and ability to dig out obscure historical records. Thanks are also due to Mike Aerts for the use of his "MAGIC" software which turns raw Lidar numbers into pictures. If there are any mistakes then these are solely my (David Ratledge's) responsibility. Corrections and suggestions are always welcome.

For all the known routes in detail choose the appropriate page:-

The "Coastal" North-South Roman Road

Wilderspool to Wigan, Margary 70b No longer in Lancashire (since 1974) but included for completeness.

Wigan to Walton-le-Dale, Margary 70c Route confirmed via Leyland with some Lidar evidence.

Walton-le-Dale to Lancaster, Margary 70d Route discovered at long last and what a surprise!

Lancaster to Watercrook, Margary 70e A likely route is emerging.

The "Inland" North-South Roman Road

Manchester to Ribchester, Margary 7b Route discovered at Edgworth and a probable NEW FORT!

Ribchester to Burrow, Margary 7c New section of this road discovered.

The Croasdale Crossing (part of Margary 7c) Best Roman road walk in Lancashire.

Roads in West Lancs

Wigan to Burscough & Hesketh Bank, Margary 702aa The connecting road from Wigan to Burscough.

Burscough to Kirkham via Hesketh Bank The possible continuation of the above road to Kirkham via Hesketh Bank.

Roads around Ribchester

Ribchester to Elslack, Margary 72a Ribble Bridge site at Ribchester probably located and the River Calder crossing.

Ribchester to Kirkham, Margary 703 Clues as to the missing first mile emerge.

The Danes Pad (part of Margary 703) ....almost certainly does not exist and this web-page examines the (lack of) evidence.

Ribchester to Catterall (for Lancaster), Margary 704aa Newly discovered Roman Road. It only took me 45 years to find it! 2019 Excavation details.

Ribchester to Lancaster via Street, Margary 704 ....almost certainly does not exist but included for historical completeness.

Roads around Lancaster

Lancaster to Burrow, Margary 705 Route discovered to Caton and most of the the rest the route to Burrow. Updated 2020.

Burrow to North-West, Margary 706 Very speculative and Lidar has not solved the issues with this road.

Lancaster North Bank of River Lune One big clue but not much else.

Lancaster to Quernmore Looks Roman and a link to the Kilns there would have been needed.

Possible Roads

Possible Routes - sadly most are very doubtful with Lidar not adding any real evidence to support them.

Roads around Manchester (within former pre-1974 Lancashire county)

Manchester to Wigan, Margary 702 Thanks to Sibson and Watkin the full route is reasonably certain. Details of modern excavations and Lidar data confirming their route.

Manchester to Castleshaw, Margary 712 One minor (Lidar) update to the route worked out by the 712 Group plus a revised setting-out point at the Manchester end.

Manchester to Melandra, Margary 711 At long last we have the route located with high confidence!

Manchester to Buxton, Margary 71b Route to Hazell Grove looks reasonable but supporting evidence is limited. More certain from there to Buxton.

Manchester to Northwich, Margary 7a The route of the Chester road in detail.

Blackstone Edge Supposed Roman Road, Margary 720a Almost certainly not Roman but it will take years for this to become accepted.

Historical Background

Historical Background includes the Antonine Itinerary for Lancashire and notes on road construction.

Conclusion

Conclusion, References and Contacts

 

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Last update: September 2019

© David Ratledge