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Roman Roads

In Britain these were essential for maintaining communications and supplies inland in the first instance for the military but subsequently by the surrounding populations. There are both documentary sources and archaeological evidence of the road network in Britain. Between 6000 - to 8000 miles of Roman roads have been mapped, across all the mainland regions. The course of many are still in use today such as Oxford Street in London. The network established by the Romans nearly two thousand years ago forms part of our own everyday lives, a significant legacy.

Road construction was overseen by the Roman army and their surveyors and engineers and their skill is attested to by the remains observed. In Britain the form of roads varied somewhat from the classic system of layered aggregates forming a canted surface with roadside ditches (aggers), all to assist drainage and stability; to paved examples, such as the tremendous Blackstone Edge stretch (near Rochdale); to roads constructed simply of a thin layer of gravels that formed a 'metalled' surface through compaction and use. The organised nature of the system is attested to by the survival of Roman Milestones, of which there are nearly 100 known examples, some found in situ.

Watling Street: as would be expected the earliest road is known to be which connected Richborough the main strategic position closest to travel to the continent; through to London and the Thames, via Cantebury. It was then extended north-westwards and eventually ended at Wroxeter.

Ermine Street: this route essentially connected London to York, passing through Water Newton at the crossing point of the Nene and Lincoln on the Humber. It was extended up to Scotland and covered a distance of over 400 miles.

Fosse Way: this connected Lincoln to Exeter and it is suggested that over the 200m mile route there is a maximum variation of 6 miles form a straight line between the two places.