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© Mike Haken & RRRA, 2018
Historic Environment Records, HE Pastscape and other online records
West Riding of Yorkshire
Margary, Ivan. D. (1957); Roman Roads in Britain, Volume Two; Pheonix House Ltd., London
Magilton J. (1977); Doncaster District: An Archaeological Survey; Doncaster Museums and Arts Service, Doncaster
White, D. A. (1963); Roman Road from Bawtry to Doncaster in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, Part 161, Vol XLI, pp. 20 -
There was some doubt about the road when Margary first published his second volume in 1957 (Margary, 1957, p.142), and Pastscape still describes the road as conjectural, although lidar analysis has now established its existence beyond reasonable doubt. It seems likely that it was originally conceived as a direct road northwards across the Humberhead Levels towards the fort at Roall Hall, Tadcaster and Newton Kyme although there is nothing to suggest any association with York which would indicate a likelihood that it was planned before York existed (see RR28a -
North of the R. Torne, the curiously named Warning Tongue Lane marks the course of RR28a until the Roman line bears northwest towards Doncaster, any evidence for that section being completely obliterated by the Cantley housing estate. However at SE 6282 0084, at the SW corner of Black Carr Plantation, a probable road approaches Warning Tongue Lane from the ESE showing clearly on lidar and on aerial photos. This strongly suggests that rather than the main Roman road bearing north west, as is the conventional view, it was originally conceived as a crossroads. Warning Tongue Lane, however, keeps straight on along the Roman line, now a branch road known as the Cantley Spur (RR281).
Where Warning Tongue Lane bears to the north east, the Roman road kept straight on, beneath the Macauley School (fig. 2). The spread agger still survives in a few places across the parkland of Cantley Hall, where it still shows faintly on lidar imagery amongst the medieval rig and furrow, as it does in the fields a little further on, although imperceptible on the ground. The trackway along the edge of Crowther Wood, marked on the 1854 six inch Ordnance Survey map utilises the remains of the agger as it leaves the wood, then the line of the road, now probably destroyed by forestry activity, follows the eastern boundary of Sandal Beat Wood for almost a mile. There is just a suggestion from lidar that the eastern half of the agger may survive outside the boundary of Sandal Beat wood. Further on, the line is no longer marked by any of the modern paths, tracks or boundaries, and does not show on aerial photographs or lidar as it crosses the rugby pitches Doncaster Knights Rugby ground. Immediately north-
Beyond the Golf Course, the road is lost beneath industrial development. Projection of the line of the road takes us directly to the site of the probable fort at Long Sandall and not 200m east of the fort, as stated erroneously in the Pastscape entry for the fort. The fort is known from aerial photographs taken prior to more recent industrial development, although part of the north corner of the fort site is open ground and my be undisturbed. As already mentioned, there is no evidence that the road was ever built north of the R. Don but a series of timber piles were noted in the riverbed of the R. Don in the summer of 1959 (White, 1963 p.21) at about SE602068, which is where a bridge ought to be had the road continued north, although as White recognises these could be of any date.
The existence of the fort north of Long Sandall at Roall Hall and the early long distance alignment leading to it from Bawtry has indicated to some reserchers that this road should have carried on further but, as stated at the outset of this entry, there is no evidence of any road to the north of the R. Don. Lidar coverage in this area is very good. If the piles observed in the R. Don in 1959 were part of a bridge, this would establish beyond reasonable doubt that overland communication with some site to the north existed. The fort at Roall Hall is really the only known candidate. If the long distance alignment is real, and not just a coincidence of alignments, then the two forts relating to it could be much earlier than previously suspected. This could potentially date to the 60s AD, similar to the recently discovered settlement much further north at Scotch Corner. Whilst it would not provide a date for the forts, an early date for a bridge at Long Sandall would add weight to the theory of an early road or track northwards across the Humberhead levels. Investigation of the piles discovered in 1959, and recovery of datable samples from them, should be seen as a priority whenever suitably low river conditions next occur again.
Click Images to enlarge
Fig. 1. The Roman road network around Rossington and Cantley, illustrating how the roads all kept to the higher and drier ground. The Roman potteries that were extensive between Doncaster and Auckley have been left off this figure as they were mainly 2nd and 3rd century, well after the roads were all constructed.
Fig. 2. The lidar evidence for RR281 near Cantley Hall and in Crowther wood.
Fig. 3. The lidar evidence for RR281 past Sandal Beat Wood And across Wheatley Golf Course.
Note: RR281 is included at the end of the account of RR28a
Roman Sites on Route:
Entry Prepared by Mike Haken, last updated, 2 June 2017