Sunday, 16 August 2015

Roman roads in England

When I was about to move to Huntingdon in UK, I was using online resources to read about my future place of residence and many times I would come across a word Ermine. First, the company I was starting job with was located in Ermine Business Park. This business park was next to Ermine Road which connects Huntingdon with Great Stukeley, the nearby village to the north-west. Then, when reading about Huntingdon on Wikipedia I found that "The town has a well-preserved medieval bridge that used to serve as the main route of Ermine Street over the river." And then I discovered that Ermine Street used to be one of the main roads of Roman England and that many major roads in England actually follow old Roman routes. If some road has unusually long straight sections, the chances are it follows some ancient way.

Ermine Street goes from London to York via Royston, Huntingdon and Lincoln. If we look at its sections, they are clearly very straight like:

  • Kingsland Road (part of A10 road in London)
  • Stoke Newington Road (part of A10 road in London)
  • Stamford Hill (part of A10 road in London)
  • A10 from Enfield to Puckeridge (A10 bypasses Ware)
  • A10 from Puckeridge to Buntingford
  • A10 from Buntingford to Royston
  • A1198 from Royston to Godmanchester and Huntingdon
  • A1 from Alconbury to Norman Cross
  • etc...

Section of A10 connecting London's City with Royston in Hertfordshire is a part of Ermine Road

Straight A1198 road between Royston and Huntingdon follows Roman Ermine way 

When I was later living in Cambridge, I was curious whether any of its main ways was also following some old route. Quite straight sections are:

  • road going from Balsham to Fulborn 
  • Mill Road 
  • Parkside
  • Sidney Street
  • Bridge Street
  • Castle Street
  • Huntingdon Road
  • section of A14 connecting Cambridge and Huntingdon
  • section of A14 going from Brampton to Thrapston
  • etc...

And this is not just coincidence - these sections are part of old Roman Via Deviana which was connecting Colchester (the oldest town in Britain) and Chester.

Roman Via Deviana connects Cambridge and Huntingdon

And now question for Londoners: have you ever noticed how straight is the route made of Edgware Road, Maida Vale, Kilburn High Road...connecting central London with Edgware (and going further north-west)...? Yes, you are right...that's an old Roman road - Watling Street, connecting Canterbury with St. Albans.

Edgware Road is part of Roman Watling Street

Roman traces across England are impressive. Without Roman legacy, Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Kier and other road construction companies would have much harder job to do.

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