Peddars Way Roman Road

Section 1: Holme next the Sea to Great Massingham

Margary Number: 33b

Distance: 42 miles (total in Norfolk)

Norfolk's longest Roman road and today survives as a fabulous long distance footpath. If follows a similar route to, but east of, the pre-Roman track, the Icknield Way, and was presumably the Roman replacement for it.

Its Roman purpose was clearly a very direct route to what must have been an important port - almost certainly for a ferry across the Wash to Lincolnshire (ref. Albone). The road has all the characteristics of a Roman military highway with basically just two main alignments. That one change of direction was at the high (for Norfolk) point of Galley Hill, Hockham.

Saham Toney was the major Roman settlement in Norfolk along this road and appears to have been established early in the Roman conquest.

Norfolk HER reference; 1289



Historic Counties: Norfolk

Current Counties: Norfolk

HER: Norfolk


route map

mini map

Lidar/Aerial Composite - Full Route (to Great Massingham)

As can be seen, less than half of this section currently (2019) has Lidar coverage. However, the course of the road is well established and almost all of it is still in use as a road, track or footpath. The main doubts about its course are at Holme next the Sea but there are few other short lengths where its course in uncertain.

Aerial: Bing Maps

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full route

Lidar Image, Modern Map and Faden's May, Holme - Route Map 1

There are two competing options for the route at Holme - the west and east. Robinson & Rose (Norfolk Origins 2) were quite definite that the western option was the correct one. Both roads are shown on Faden's Map so they are not recent. The Ordnance Survey first edition 1-inch map marks the earterly route as Peddars Way. But there is some aerial evidence for a possible branch onto the left (west) road just north of Ringstead. But the route beyond there is hardly straight. Lidar doesn't, in this case, solve the issue but the easterly route is straighter and perhaps generally more Roman-like.



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Holme next the Sea - East Route

The south looking image is down the road called Peddars Way and the property on the right has the impressive address of number 1 Peddars Way.

Images: Google

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Holme next the Sea - West Route

This is appropriately called Beach Road as that is exactly where it goes. Yes on this stretch it is wide and looks Roman-like but elsewhere this is not generally the case.

Image: Google

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beach road

Aerial Image and Route Map 2

We are on firmer ground now and the route is not really in question passing Ringstead.

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Peddars Way either side of Docking Road (B1454)

Picturesque spot with a slight downhill length to the B1454. The right view is fairly typical of the Peddars Way in north Norfolk.

Images: Google

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Aerial Image and Route Map 3

Passing Fring I have straight-lined the route. This seems more likely but until Lidar is available for this section then this is best regarded as probable.

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Aerial Image and Route Map 4

Dead straight on this section which is why I assumed it would have been straight on map 3 passing Fring.

The road crossing Peddars Way near the top is called Roman Road and runs to Great Bircham off the map to the right. For a photo of this junction see later.

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Aerial Image and Route Map 5

More of the same with the straight alignment continuing.

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Peddars Way - 2 views

The left view is at Roman Road west of Great Bircham - see above. The right hand view is of the Norfolk Songline Stone near Great Massingham.

The inscription reads: From Blackwater Carr to Seagate Since the plough first broke the bread of land Pightles and pieces plots & pastures To every man his stony acre.

Images: Google


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Lidar/Aerial Image & Route Map 6

Lidar resumes at Little Massingham thanks to Environment Agency's new coverage - not that the line was in doubt though.



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Lidar Image & Map 7

There does seem a sensible reason for the Roman alignment not being dead straight here as it negotiates a little valley.

Route continued in Section 2

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lidar map7

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Last update: January 2020

© David Ratledge