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41 Miles

720a

West. Yorks. HER Mon no. 67

HE Pastscape Mon. 1326366

HE Pastscape Mon. 1360419

HE Pastscape Mon. 1361179

Manchester

Ilkley


Lancashire, West Riding of Yorkshire



Where he got his information is not known, but when his Map of Yorkshire was published in 1720, a note is given as the road leaves Yorkshire on Blackstone Edge "this Roman way extends from Manchester in Lancashire unto Aldborough near Burrowbridge, is all paved with stone and near 8 yards broad". (Fig. 1). The road does of course incorporate perhaps the most famous length of supposed “Roman Road” in Britain, and a considerable section of this entry has been devoted to discussing it. For convenience, therefore, the road can be best examined in five sections,

Manchester to Littleborough

Blackstone Edge

Is the Blackstone Edge causeway Roman or not?

Blackstone Edge to Ilkley

Conclusionsanchor1

Baines, F.; (1868) History of the County Palatine and Duchy of Lancaster. A new edition edited by J Croston

Ballard, E. (1967); A Chronicle of Crompton;  Crompton Urban District Council, Shaw.

Brigg, J. J. (1907); Local Archaeology. Fragments of Roman Road on Harden Moor. Interesting Researches. Yorkshire Notes and Queries, March 1907


Codrington, T. (1903), Roman Roads in Britain

Colley-March, H. (1883); The road over Blackstone Edge. Trans. Lancs and Ches. Ant. Soc., 1 , pp. 73-86 1884

Collins, H.C. (1979) "Riddle of a "Roman" road Blackstone Edge, Lancashire" in Country Life, November 22nd 1979

Davies, Hugh (2002); Roads in Roman Britain; Tempus Publishing Ltd., Stroud

Defoe, D (1778); A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain, 4th Edition, Vol.III,  London

Esmonde Cleary, A. S. (Ed.)  (1994) Roman Britain in 1993 in Britannia pp.245-291, Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, London

Fiennes, Celia (1888); Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary, being the Diary of Celia Fiennes; The Leadenhall Press, London

Frere, S. S. (Ed.) (1983); Roman Britain in 1982, I Sites Explored; Britannia Vol. 14 pp. 279-335, Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, London

Frere, S. S. (Ed.) (1984); Roman Britain in 1983, I Sites Explored; Britannia Vol. 15 pp. 265-332, Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, London

Frere, S. S. (Ed.) (1985); Roman Britain in 1984, I Sites Explored; Britannia Vol. 16 pp. 251-316, Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, London

Frere, S. S. (Ed.) (1990); Roman Britain in 1989, I Sites Explored;  Britannia Vol. 21 pp. 306-364, Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, London

Frere, S. S. (Ed.)(1991); Roman Britain in 1990, I Sites Explored; Britannia Vol. 22 pp. 221-292, Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, London

Grew, F. O.(Ed.)  (1981); Roman Britain in 1980, Britannia Vol. 12, Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, London

Haigh, D. (1993), Roman Road: Manchester-Ilkley  Margary 720a; Entry in Greater Manchester HER, old SMR no. 2991

Haigh, D. (2013); Pers. Comms

Haigh, D. (Undated); OS 1:25000 annotated Strip map in RR720a file, West Yorkshire HER.

HMSO (1893); Calendar of Patent Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office., Edward 1; A.D. 1281-1292; HMSO, London. 1893 digitised by the University of Michigan https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015031081162;view=1up;seq=455  Accessed 11/12/17

Horsley, J. (1732); Britannia Romana: or The Roman Antiquities of Britain; John Osborn and Thomas Longman, London

James, John (1841); History and Topography of Bradford.

Jefferys, (1775); map of the Environs of Bradford, Halifax, Harewood (north of), Huddersfield, Leeds, Otley, Skipton and (west of) Wakefield

Kendall, H. P. (1911); Roman Ford at Longbottom; Transactions of the Halifax Antiquarian Society, Vol. 8 pp. 165-170, Halifax

Leyland, F. A.  (1864); On the Roman Roads Intersecting the Parish of Halifax, Journal of the British Archaeological Association, Vol. 20 Issue 3 pp. 205-219

Maxim, James L. (1965); A Lancashire Lion; J.L. Maxim Trustees, Leeds

Moorhouse, S. (Ed.) (1972); The Yorkshire Archaeological register: 1971 Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, YAS, Leeds

Norton Dickons, J.  (1900); The Roman Road from Manchester to Aldborough in Bradford Antiquary 3 NS 1 1900 pp. 239-54

Ordnance Survey (1852); Yorkshire, Sheet 215, 6 inches to a mile,  surveyed 1847 - 1849, Ordnance Map Office, Southampton

Ordnance Survey (c.1984); RR720a Linear File, Historic England Archive, Swindon

Pearson, B, Price, J., Tanner, V. and Walker, J. (1985); The Rochdale Borough Survey  in the Greater Manchester Archaeological Journal, Vol. 1. Chapter 13. Manchester; available online at http://www.gmau.manchester.ac.uk/pdfs/gmac13.pdf accessed 27/10/17

Pollington, Mitchell. (2012) ; Blackstone Edge Road, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester. Archaeological Services WYAS Report no. 2377

Richmond, I. A. (1925);  Huddersfield in Roman Times; Tolson Memorial Museum Publications, Huddersfield

Stukeley, W. (1776); Itinerarium Curiosum

Taylor, J. (1639) News from Hell, Hull and Halifax

Toller, H. S. (2014); Blackstone Edge - Roman or Not - Pros and Cons; unpublished notes in RRRA Archive

Tupling, G. H. (1952). The Turnpike Trusts of Lancashire. 94. Manchester: Memoirs and Proceedings of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, session 1952-1953. P4

Turnbull, P. (Ed.)  (1982); Yorkshire Archaeological Register, 1981; Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, Vol. 54 pp. 169-183; YAS Leeds

Rosevear, Alan (2011); Turnpike Roads in England and Wales; http://www.turnpikes.org.uk/English%20turnpike%20table.htm; accessed 27/10/17

Villy, F. (1910); The Manchester - Ilkley Roman Road between Cockhill and Ilkley;  Bradford Sci. J., vol 2, pp. 337 - 345

Villy, F (1919); The Roman Passage of Airedale; The Bradford Antiquary., Vol 6, pp. 117 - 122

Villy, F, (1940); The Roads over Blackstone Edge from Lancashire into Yorkshire in The Bradford Antiquary 8   p386

Warburton, John, (c. 1718); Lansdown MSS. (British Library), No 899, fol. 60

Warburton, John (1720); A Map of Yorkshire in all its Divisions; London

Watkin, W.T. (1883, Roman Lancashire 1883,

Whitaker, Rev. John; History of Manchester," (1773), Bk. 1, p. 119)

Wikipedia (2017); Blackstone Edge; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackstone_Edge, accessed 27/10/17




Fig. 1 Portion of Warburton’s Map of Yorkshire, 1720, showing the road from Manchester entering Yorkshire near Littleborough. Note that it is marked with solid lines, ie. certain

Click Images to enlarge

RRRA Forum for RR720a

Fig. 3  The pavement of the famous causeway up Blackstone Edge, from the Lancashire Side, taken c. 1990 when still clear of vegetation. Note how the causeway is actually slightly raised above, or in places just level with the modern ground level © Robert Estall/CORBIS published under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license

References:

The location mentioned near Rochdale is unknown, although the distance would suggest it must be somewhere between Wellfield and Lower Place (on Oldham Road), assuming Whitaker was measuring from the edge of the 18th century town. If this is the case, then the Roman road could have headed to Littleborough close to the line of the modern A58, but it is also possible that it changed alignment in order to keep south of the River Roch. Watkin noted in 1883 that, "The most singular fact connected with this road is, that no one has ever seen or heard of the portion of it between Manchester and Blackstone Edge from Whitaker's time to the present day." (Watkin 1883, p56). That remains largely true, except that Donald Haigh did identify and excavate a length of road which had been later cut through by a hollow-way of probable late or post medieval date, near Clegg Hall Farm, between Rochdale and Littleborough, almost a mile to the south of the modern A58 (Haigh, 1993). The original road would have been about 5m wide with side ditches, but he could not conclude that it was definitely Roman (Haigh, 2013). If the alignment of Haigh’s road is projected south west, it meets Oldham Road at its junction with Kingsway, that is between Lower Place and Wellfield, which fits with Whitaker’s description.

Apart from a lack of firm evidence, another issue is that the Street Bridge to which Whitaker refers (Chadderton, nr Oldham SD 902 069) is substantially east of the projected line from Manchester through Street Fold at Moston (between 600m and 1500m, depending on the actual route), yet there is no logical reason for the Roman surveyors to have made such a deviation. It is certainly true that there is a cutting (of unknown date) at Streetbridge to the north of the R.Irk easing a long disused descent to the R.Irk, but this merely shows that this is an old crossing point, not that it is necessarily Roman. The location of a fourth "Street" on Buckstones Road, nr. Shaw (SD 9513 0946), has been used by some later writers to suggest a branch road through Street Bridge to the fort at Castleshaw, on the main Manchester to York road (Collins 1979, Ballard 1967, p.57), but again there is no known evidence for this.

And there is the problem. Whilst the existence of the road on the Yorkshire side is well attested, the only "evidence" for such a road between Manchester and Littleborough comes from Warburton's statements, three "street" place names, a straight length of township boundary from Blackley Golf Course to the junction of Mills Hill Rd. and Bay Tree Lane, Chadderton (SD8778 0363 to  SD 8886 0550) and Donald Haigh’s excavation near Clegg Hall. Inspite of all the alterations and industrial disturbance of the landscape in the 18th and 19th centuries, one might have expected some vestigial remains of such a road to have still been extant in the early 18th century, but it seems there were none. Modern technologies such as lidar have not revealed anything here either. The association between "street" place-names and Roman roads has recently been called into question in the north of England, the suggestion being that the word may have been used to indicate any important road in the medieval period. That there was a medieval road here is beyond doubt, as attested in a legal document of Roger de Middleton in about 1240 which refers to a 'great highway' at Balderstone, Rochdale as a boundary to his land, but there is nothing to suggest the highway had a Roman origin, although this does for with Whitaker’s supposed sighting near Rochdale. Faced with so little evidence, we have to consider the possibility that the supposed Roman road from Manchester as far as Wellfield, Rochdale, and possibly as far as Littleborough, may never have existed, in which case the road further east, if real, must have been coming from somewhere else, perhaps Wigan (Coccium). A branch off the Manchester to York road at Slack, as suggested by Codrington amongst others (Codrington.1903, p.99), would have needed just 9.4 miles to reach the Long Causeway north of Halifax, as opposed to 28.5 miles direct from Manchester, and would have been just 2 miles further. It is hard to see how the expense of the direct route from Manchester could have been justified. So, rather than enter into a debate about the many suggested routes, none of which have any firm evidence, the RRRA mapping shows a dotted line along an arbitrary course to indicate a presumed route.

This now takes us to the road North East of Littleborough, and starting, of course, with the famous causeway over Blackstone Edge.

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Fig. 5  Taken in 2017, this image shows the condition of the causeway, and how there does not appear to be any older road beneath it.

None of the writers who commented on Blackstone Edge prior to Warburton, such as Defoe and Fiennes,  made reference to either a Roman road or the paved causeway. However, this absence of record would also have happened if the Roman road was buried and not visible, and this in turn has been used in an attempt to prop up the notion of the paved causeway being Roman (Pollington, 2012, p.31). However, Warburton did presumably see the Roman road at some point, as did the renowned John Horsley at about the same time, indeed Horsley used it as an example of how deeply Roman roads can be buried beneath the modern surface (Horsley, 1732, p. 391). Horsley's description is at odds with what we know about the paved causeway, as on the Lancashire side it is for the most part roughly level with the current surface, and therefore could not have been deeply buried. Even on the Yorkshire side within the cuttings, where the paving survives, there is no evidence that the surface has ever been more than lightly covered. It's also worth noting that Jefferys' map of 1775 shows the causeway still existing well to the east of the county boundary (fig. 9) (Jefferys, 1775) so it must have been visible in the late 18th century and therefore in Warburton, Horsley and Stukeley's time, had it existed then. It only stops on Jefferys’ map where it enters the deeper cuttings, merely indicating that it was out of use beyond this point, possibly due to erosion or deliberate slighting. It is simply not credible that antiquarians such as Warburton, Horsley, Stukeley, Baines, and Whittaker, all of whom were familiar with how Roman roads were usually constructed, should all write about the Roman road and not mention the setted causeway, with its unique central channel. The only possible conclusion is that the Roman road is a different road entirely.

Just supposing for a while that the stone causeway is Roman, then what was the route of the 1734 turnpike? It has been suggested that the 1734 turnpike followed the route of the pre-1720 road and according to the Act it did, and that the same route was followed later by the A58 (Pollington, 2012, p.33), with only the 1766 turnpike following a different course. This cannot be correct, since the grounds for the 1766 Act were to relieve the gradient and yet its route, which is known and not disputed, is actually steeper than the A58 and under this theory, the 1734 turnpike. When turnpike roads were replaced by subsequent turnpike roads, the later roads were almost always of a gentler gradient (Toller, 2014), meaning that the 1734 road is likely to be be the steepest, and the steepest road on Blackstone Edge is the paved causeway. In any case, the medieval and post medieval route over Blackstone Edge is clearly marked by the remains of wayside crosses (e.g. at SD 9650 1694 and SD 9858 1809 ) and, in places, the causey stones of the packhorse route, the Aiggin Stone (fig 10 ), and the Civil war entrenchments that were built to defend the route. Whilst it can't be entirely ruled out, a further post medieval road along the line of the A58 seems highly unlikely. Furthermore, the 1734 Act states very definitely that the Act was for the widening of the existing road using methods that would be extraordinary and contrary to the normal custom of law, and it is therefore up to those claiming the causeway to be Roman to identify where this other extraordinary road is. They must also demonstrate that the relief road created by the 1754 Act is somewhere other than the Loop road half way up the causeway on the Lancashire side.

Archaeological Evidence

The resources and engineering knowledge necessary to construct the paved causeway across Blackstone Edge were available only from the early 18th century onwards, and in the Roman period. It's really that simple. The road can only be one or the other. However, were the surfacing of the causeway on Blackstone edge to be Roman, it would not only be unparalleled in Britain, but unparalleled anywhere in the Roman empire. Paved roads are rare anywhere in the northern Roman empire, and there are only a handful of supposedly paved Roman roads in Britain, and those that have been proven to be Roman (many have turned out to be much more recent) seem to be within settlements such as the one at Tilston in Cheshire (Grew, 1981, p.333). The Roman army's priority was to create roads quickly, using locally available materials and in general the running surface was of gravel or pebbles rammed into a raised and cambered substructure (agger) to make a smooth surface. Dressing stone to make a surface was an un-necessary luxury. Even in southern Europe, where paved Roman roads are more common, the stones are generally polygonal and do not resemble 18th century sett-stones. The substructure of the Blackstone Edge road, such as it is, is not significantly raised, and although it is cambered, it is certainly not typical of Roman road construction (see fig. 5). Neither is the layout on the ground, which incorporates several long smooth curves (see fig. 11 for example), and whilst shorter curves are known in hilly areas, such as on RR712 near Scouthead, long smooth curves like these are unknown on Roman roads in Britain. Similarly atypical is the gradient, reaching a maximum of  nearly 1:4, where it is known that Roman engineers aimed for a maximum of 1:8 where possible, and hardly ever more than 1:6 except for very short distances (Davies, 2002, pp. 79-86). Yet, there is no attempt in the original line of the road to use zigzags, as the Romans usually did to alleviate gradient.




Fig. 6  Aerial photograph from a drone looking west along Rag Sapling Clough showing a terraced road within the artifically widened and deepened channel, being heavily eroded by the clough

Fig. 2  Map of the various main roads crossing Blackstone Edge, as far as is known.

Fig. 4  photo taken from a drone showing the causeway, now covered in vegetation, climbing up the Lancashire side with the Loop road to the north forming a triangle on the left of the image.

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Sequence of roads over Blackstone Edge (after Collins, 1979)

  1. Roman road - presumed from 18th century accounts and known road heading in this direction from north of Halifax
  2. packhorse road , the Dhoull's Pavement - known in 1291,
  3. 1734 Turnpike Act - cobbled road (? Roman)
  4. 1754 Turnpike Act creating a road to relieve the gradient
  5. 1765 Turnpike Act allowing sale of 1734 turnpike road
  6. 1766 Turnpike Act creating new road on gentler gradient - Blackstone Edge old Road, shown on Jefferys map 1775
  7. 1799 Turnpike Act amending the road again, not completed on 1818 Greenwood map showing it half built from Barhouse to east (SE 958169)
  8. 1799 Turnpike Act road finally completed some time after 1818, now the A58

Documentary Evidence and Historical Accounts

John Warburton in 1718 is the first known writer to record a Roman road over Blackstone Edge (Warburton, 1718). His Roman road mapping is notoriously schematic, yet it has previously been claimed that there is no need to doubt the broad accuracy of his features (Pennington 2012, p.32), specifically the fact that Warburton has the early 18th century road to the north of the Roman line (fig 8). Unfortunately, there is every reason to doubt the accuracy, as anyone familiar with Warburton's mapping of Roman roads would be able to testify.  

By way of example, fig. 8 is a snippet of his Map of Yorkshire, in the area near Scotch Corner, the junction of RR8 (Dere Street) and RR82 towards Carlisle. The 18th century roads are shown to deviate considerably from the Roman line whereas, in fact, they largely overlaid the Roman road, as indeed they still do today. All his map tells us with respect to Blackstone Edge therefore is that there was an 18th century road and a Roman road in the general vicinity. Even though Warburton's line of the 18th century road looks a little similar to the accurately drawn line on Jeffery's 1775 map (fig. 9), they are not the same. It cannot therefore be claimed that in the 1720s the main road was to the north of the Roman line.

Fig. 7  Warburton’s map, 1720, showing Blackstone Edge

Material written about the causeway on Blackstone Edge, a couple of miles east of Littleborough, near Rochdale, Lancashire, could fill a bookcase. For over a century there has been debate as to whether it is Roman, or actually the first turnpike road over Blackstone edge, built in 1734-5, and despite a much better understanding of Roman roads these days, the debate persists. Fig 2. shows a map of Blackstone Edge, with the early packhorse road, still visible on the ground in places, marked as closely as can be determined.

The first known written record of any road or track over Blackstone Edge is in 1285, when Richard Wood complained to the Sowerby Constables about the state of the road over "Blackesteynegge". Six years later, the Patent Rolls of Edward I gave on July 12th 1291:

"Grant to Hugh de Elaund and Richard de Radeclive for two years, of a custom on goods for sale taken across the causeway of Blacksteynege, to be applied to its repair." (HMSO, 1893).

Neither account, unfortunately, tells us if this causeway was a road fit for wheeled traffic, or just a packhorse track. A packhorse road certainly existed, and is still visible in places. By the 17th and 18th centuries, the road was in a parlous state, as evidenced by John Taylor in 1639 who wrote

"I rode over such ways as are past comparison and amending, for when I went down the lofty mountain called Blackstone Edge I thought myself, with my boy and horses, had been in the land of Break-neck, it was so steep and tedious and past repair." (Taylor 1639).  

Celia Fiennes, travelling in 1698, and Daniel Defoe, in 1724, give similar dramatic and uncomplimentary accounts  (Fiennes, 1770, pp.186,187 & Defoe 1724, p136). By 1734, the state of the road had become so bad that the Rochdale to Halifax and Elland Turnpike Trust was established and collected tolls from 1st June 1735. The Act gave powers "to widen the existing road over the craggy mountain of Blackstone Edge", because the existing road "is narrow, deep, ruinous, and impassable for wagons, carts and other of the many heavy carriages frequently passing that way". The Act claims that the alterations would be "extraordinary," and by "methods contrary to the normal custom of the law" (Pearson et al 1985, p. 128).

A further act was passed in 1754 giving permission to construct a new length of road to relieve the gradient (Collins, 1979) and another one in 1765 granting powers to sell the existing road if a new road would solve the problem of the gradient. Just a year later in 1766 a further Act of Parliament granted permission to build “a new circuitous road at a different lower place” (Pearson et al 1985, p. 128). The final Turnpike Act came in 1799, which is essentially the modern road, the A58 (ibid). This was a nationally important transport artery, ranking in the top 50 roads in the country for income from Tolls in 1820 (Rosevear, 2011), and remained so until eventually superceded by the modern motorway, the M62.

The first mention of a Roman road over Blackstone Edge seems to be from John Warburton (Warburton c.1718), whose map of Yorkshire (fig. 1) was published in 1720 (Warburton, 1720). Whilst John Warburton's map clearly indicates that the Roman road is to the south of the 18th century coach road not too much weight should be given to this as he drew Roman roads schematically with long straight lines which frequently appear on the wrong side of roads and settlements, even when the route was well known in his day. Warburton’s account was followed by a comment by the antiquarian John Horsley, who uses the Blackstone Edge road as his example to illustrate how deeply buried Roman roads can become below the modern surface:

“I confess it is sometimes very difficult to discover or trace out a military way, which is frequently sunk several feet below the surface, either in mossy grounds, or where the fields have long been in tillage. When I passed Blackstone Edge in Yorkshire, I could not be but surprised to see how much the causeway there was below the surface” (Horsley 1732, p.391).

References from Stukeley (Stukeley 1776), Whitaker (Whitaker 1773) and Baines (Baines 1835) followed with Whitaker repeating the observation about the depth of the road beneath the surface.

The famous stone causeway over Blackstone Edge (fig 3.) is without question an impressive piece of engineering. It runs in a straight line up a steep slope (before curving away to the east towards the summit) on the moors above Littleborough, Lancashire, climbing 175m in just over a kilometre with a maximum gradient of 1:4. It consists of a causeway some 5m wide, constructed of large stone sets, with kerbs, and a curious central channel cut into large stone blocks over 600mm wide and up to 650mm long.  The causeway appears to have started at about SD 9625 1680, at about 275m above sea level. Its lower section is now completely robbed out of stone, and it is possible that it started further west at around SD 9575 1661. At a height of approximately 330m (SD 9662 1691) a zig zag relief road (usually referred to as the Loop road) leaves the main road line (fig. 4) with two straight sections of road set at a right angle re-joining the main road line about 250m further up the hill (SD 9687 1698). On the Yorkshire side, heading towards Baitings, the road passes through substantial cuttings that are in excess of 10m wide, sometimes up to 40m. The cuttings have unfortunately made a very effective drainage channel off the moor, and in places the road itself has been largely eroded away, as can be seen in the aerial photograph fig. 5. The antiquarians who recorded the Roman road, mentioned in the previous paragraph, were all men who had seen many Roman roads (especially Warburton and Horsley), and were familiar with the usual modes of construction, so it seems more than a little odd that if they were talking about the engineered Blackstone Edge causeway. None of them describe it or even remark on its uniqueness and quality of construction. Defoe & Fiennes didn’t refer to it either; especially odd for Defoe as he singled out other Roman roads in his accounts, such as the Roman Ridge (RR28b) at Barnsdale Bar, near Doncaster.

It was Henry Colley-March, in 1879, who made the first public claim that the setted causeway was of Roman origin, in a paper delivered to the Rochdale Literary and Scientific Society (Pearson et al, 1985 p.126), which he later published (Colley-March, 1884, pp173-186). It seems that for the next century his conclusions, despite being based on very weak evidence, were never seriously questioned. The causeway was extensively surveyed and excavated by Ian Richmond in the 1920s (Richmond, 1925), who concluded that the groove in the central channel had been caused by poles mounted to the rear of Roman waggons acting as brakes - an unworkable method on such steep slopes and yet, possibly because of Richmond’s reputation, it was simply accepted as fact. Richmond also noted that the Loop road had been constructed after the main causeway.

The first serious attempt to debunk the notion of the causeway having Roman origins came from James Maxim (Maxim, 1965) who claimed that the packhorse road passed beneath the causeway, and therefore must by older than it, and that is indeed what appears to happen where the old track meets the causeway on the climb up the Lancashire side, though this junction has not been excavated for absolute proof. An article by Herbert Collins in 1979 seemed to demolish further the argument for the pavement being of Roman construction (Collins, 1979) and since then it has been increasingly accepted that the causeway is probably part of 1734 Turnpike, as evidenced by Wikipedia (Wikipedia 2017).  Despite this, or perhaps because of it, argument, disagreement and debate persists. In 2012, a thorough and highly detailed survey of the Blackstone Edge Road was conducted by Archaeological Sevices WYAS (Pollington,2012). The subsequent report paid particular attention to the stratigraphic relationship between the road and its environment, with particular reference to the formation of some of the deep gullies close to the road, and to the packhorse road, and concluded somewhat inconclusively, that the causeway

“is likely to pre-date the first Turnpike Acts. If the road does not date to the 18th century then, based on the scale of its construction, it is necessary to consider the possibility that the Blackstone Edge Road is indeed of Roman origin.” (Pollington, 2012, p.29).

Fig. 8  Warburton 1720 showing Roman and 18th century roads north of Scotch Corner

Fig. 9  Jefferys’ map (1775) showing the 1766 turnpike road and the Blackstone Edge Causeway

Much time is spent in the 2012 ASWYAS report discussing the formation of the network of gullies that run westward down the hillside (Pollington, 2012, pp34-36). It is argued in the report that because the Loop road roughly follows the southern edge of the main gully, the gully is respecting it and therefore the road must have come first, without even considering the possibility that the relationship might actually suggest that the road came first, and respects the gully!  There is no evidence of any revetment to the bank of the gully, so the road cannot have provided any resistance to the erosion of the south bank of the gully, which therefore cannot be seen as respecting it. In fact, the road has been placed as close to the gully as possible in order to achieve the gentlest gradients. Fig. 11 shows the line that would have been needed to achieve 1:7 gradients or better on both sides of the Loop road. Unfortunately, the presence of the gully controlled where they could build the loop and prevented them from building it far enough north to be truly effective, with an overall average reduction of the gradient from 1:4.8 to about 1:6.6, well short of the 1:8 that Roman engineers thought acceptable; they are not both about  1:5 as stated in the 2012 report (ibid, p.34). There is some evidence, visible on fig. 11 , to suggest that initial attempts were made to build the angle of the loop road a little further down the slope but that this was changed, possibly because it made the western junction with the main road too sharp.

Of course, all this does not tell us when the road was built, as the gullies might have formed at any time over the last few millennia. The aerial photo on which fig. 11 is based, however, appears to show that the main gully formed along the line of the packhorse road, with a later alternative but steeper route being created.  There is considerable braiding, where the two main paths have become unusable. Therefore, unless the original packhorse road were late Iron Age or earlier, which is unlikely but not impossible, the gullies are probably medieval and post medieval in date. Taking all the above into account, a mid-eighteenth century date for the looproad, as allowed in the 1754 Act, seems entirely reasonable. The small amount of erosion to the corner of the Loop road is to be expected over the 270 years since the 1754 Act, although most of it may have happened in the 36 years before the Broad Head Drain was constructed in 1790.

The central channel in the road is thought to be unique to any period, although the use of a central row of flagstones flanked by cobbles or setts is actually quite common in post medieval roads of the South Pennines, albeit usually half the width. Collins mentions two examples not far from the Blackstone edge causeway, at Reddystone Scout Gate and Gorpley (Collins, 1979 ). The function of the channel is unclear, but most likely it is related to whatever mechanism was devised to haul wagons up the hill, hence the Loop road, shown by Richmond to post-date the main causeway, was only built later once the mechanism finally failed.

On the Yorkshire side, from the Aiggin Stone eastwards, the road is almost entirely contained in cuttings where the peat has been removed to make a solid foundation for the road. The main cutting is substantial , being 2m deep, up to 40m wide, and nearly 750m long, much wider than normal Roman cuttings which are between 5m and 9m wide (Toller 2014), although similar scale Roman works do exist at Craik Moor, Eskdalemuir. The paving of the road survives in places, still with a row of large central stones.  The techniques of Roman engineering within cuttings are very poorly understood, so it is not possible to make a judgement as to their origin from their construction alone. There is a packhorse way constructed within the cutting, sometimes on a raised causeway, and towards the Aiggin Stone a single row of causey stones (large thick blocks of gritstone) survive. However, it would be a mistake to assume that  a packhorse road must be earlier than any Turnpike road. Hugh Toller noted 18th century roads in upland Wales with later packhorse trails cut into them (Toller 2014) and packhorse roads were still in use in some parts of the country right up to the early 1900s. It seems quite logical, indeed likely, that when the 1734 turnpike went out of use in 1766, parts of it may have returned to use as a packhorse road, possibly rebuilt in places, as the most direct route for non-wheeled transport, not to mention a means of avoiding the tolls on the new road (Blackstone Edge Old Road). It is noteworthy that it remains a bridleway, not just a footpath, to this day. Again, the burden of proof lies with fieldworkers to prove that the packhorse road within the cuttings is of an earlier date than 1766, simply stating that it must be (Pollington, 2012, pp. 33-34) is not good enough.

Further east, the road runs on a terrace along the north west side of the valley of the Rag Sapling Clough. Here there is no noticable distinction between the road, and the packhorse track, the feature being marked on the first edition Ordnance Survey map (1854) as both Old Packhorse Road and the Dhoul's Pavement, i.e. Devil's Pavement. It is certainly true that the appellation of Devil's Causeway was commonly used in relation to Roman roads, as is the fact that the placename Dowelloyhed in this vicinity is recorded in 1492. As with the cutting though, the fact that the road was later utilised as a packhorse road and given a probably medieval name does not automatically tell us that the road must medieval or earlier. This fails to consider the possibility that the Dhoul's Pavement is indeed referring to the medieval packhorse road, and that if the cutting were for the 1734 Turnpike along a roughly  similar route, as is implied by the Act, the name already in common usage would have simply transferred to the new Turnpike road. The name would then have been retained as the road returned to use as a packhorse road and subsequent bridleway.

Summary

Taking all the above into account, it becomes extremely difficult not to conclude that the causeway is the 1734 turnpike road. Given that there is no evidence whatsoever for a Roman road  over this route, where exactly did the Roman road really go?



Fig. 10  The Aiggin Stone, probably a medieval way marker or possibly boundary marker

Fig. 11  Bing aerial photo of the causeway climbing Blackstone Edge, showing the relationship between the Loop Road, packhorse road, and the main gullies. Note the smooth curve of the causeway to the east, most un-Roman

Where is the Roman road on Blackstone Edge?

The earliest mapping of Roman roads in Yorkshire, Warburton's, is really only intended to be a schematic representation rather than an accurate map. He tended to draw long straight lines in the general vicinity of a Roman road, so his Roman lines must be viewed with extreme caution and do not really help us. In the early twentieth century however, Dr Francis Villy observed that Swaindrod Lane, which runs a short distance ENE from the Moorcock Inn on the modern A58, continued the line of the modern road. He also realised that when Swaindrod Lane turned north, the original line was followed by a public footpath still visible on the moor, virtually straight, cutting out the huge modern bend and rejoining the A58 near White House Inn at the top of the hill. What's more, the second Turnpike (1766, Blackstone Edge Old Road) appeared to cut slightly across and on top of this straight road, suggesting that Villy's line was earlier. Villy excavated the path and discovered that:  

Fig. 11  Possible true line of RR720a up Blackstone Edge, a continuation of Swaindrod Lane

There are two options from Blackstone Edge to get to the R. Calder near Luddenden Foot. The first is the traditional route utilising the general course followed by the 1766 and 1799 turnpikes (A58) as far as Baitings and then along Blue Ball Road to Sowerby, crossing the R. Calder somewhere south of Luddenden Foot. This is the traditional route recounted in all publications since Warburton. Alternatively, it took a more direct and arguably easier line passing to the north west of Great Manshead Hill, and then on a course close to Water Stalls Road, before dropping down to cross the Calder near Luddenden Foot. The latter course is a mile shorter, avoiding some steep and awkward valleys and cloughs but it stays for much longer on the high moor. It only works if the ascent up Blackstone Edge is from Staindrod Lane.

Taking the “traditional” route first, which is possible for all possible ascents of Blackstone Edge from the west, the Ordnance Survey’s file (Ordnance Survey, c.1984) marks a short length of terraceway to the south of the A587 as the Dhoul’s Pavement approaches from the south west. Whether this is part of the 1743 turnpike, the packhorse road, or something else entirely is not clear. From there, the supposed Roman line follows the A58 for a short distance, before branching off along Blue Ball Road, which is forced kink north as it traverses Clay Clough, and then proceeds on a fairly straightish course along Blue Ball Road and Lane Head Road for a mile and a half, before turning northwards to head down Foxen Lane, where a section of “pavement” was apparently still visible in the 19th century (Norton Dickons 1900).

The route now heads NNE along Foxen Lane, through Mill Bank, and then along Birks Lane and Bowood lane as far as about SE 0384 2229. Here the traditional route just sticks to Bowood Lane and bears more north easterly before running along Dean Lane into Sowerby, however the Ordnance Survey’s Field Investigator, R. W. Emsley observed in 1960 that there is “no topographical reason for non-continuation of straight alignment, but no surface evidence or road” (Ordnance Survey c.1984), and this more probable straight alignment has been plotted on our mapping. From Sowerby, the route is supposed to have headed down to the Calder by Finkle Street (Leyland, 1864), although passing along the modern street with that name seems unlikely as its on the wrong alignment. Most likely Leyland was meaning past the end of Finkle Street, along what is now Styes Lane, then turning east on a track through Jack Hey Farm. The OS mark a line down Wood Lane which goes straight down the hill, but at gradients of 1:4 in places, this is too steep given that an easier option was readily available. Donald Haigh and the Bradford Grammar School Archaeological Society excavated the track past Jack Hey Farm in 1990, and revealed traces of metalling of a 4m wide road (Frere, 1991, p.244), although nothing conclusively Roman was found.

The alternative and arguably more logical and “Roman” route is one speculated upon by both Villy and Haigh, and takes the road on a fairly straight course passing beneath the Blackstone Edge Reservoir keeping to the north of Great Manshead Hill. It then falls in with the line of field boundaries from about SE 0030 2080. From here, it could be marked by Water Stalls Road and then current lanes past Steep Lane (Steep Lane isn’t actually too bad, about 1:7.5), Boulder Clough, to Styes, and then descending to the R. Calder the same way as the traditional route. An old road certainly existed north of Great Manshead Hill, and was excavated by Donald Haigh in 1989 (Frere, 1990, p328), revealing a road 5.5m wide and up to 0.35m thick, with heavy bottoming of gritstone boulders, although whether or not it had any Roman characteristics is unclear from the brief reports.


Fig. 12  Portion of John Warburton’s map of 1720 showing the Roman road west and north of Halifax

Fig. 13  Lidar image superimposed on an aerial photo, showing surviving remains of agger near Hunter Hill, north of Halifax

Fig. 14  Lidar image superimposed on an aerial photo, showing surviving remains of agger north east of Ogden Reservoir, Halifax

Whichever route is the correct one, the road must  have crossed the R. Calder, south of Luddenden Foot.  A Roman ford across the R. Calder was supposedly identified near Longbottom Mills in 1915 (Kendall, 1911), although excavation in 1984 could find no trace of it (Frere, 1985, p.280). There is a general acceptance, despite a lack of evidence, that the road must have climbed from here From this general vicinity, the road must have then climbed rapidly around the hill to a point near Norton Tower, on a route roughly corresponding to Warley Wood Lane, and then Butts Green Road and Butts Green Lane, then turning close to the old track of South Clough Head , crossing Roils Head Road to the site of a possible barrow.  

You would be forgiven for thinking that there has so far been precious little firm evidence of a Roman road at any point, other than two inconclusive excavations by Donald Haigh. This is the point where things begin to change. The possible barrow was thought by Donald Haigh to have been used as sighting point, and he successfully traced the course of an old road from here past Mount Tabor as far as Hunter Hill, which shows classic signs of Roman layout, being laid out using a straight alignment which it soon leaves to skirt around Mount Tabor, rejoining it briefly before deviating westwards again at Lower Balkran Edge before eventually returning to the alignment at its end (Haigh, undated).  This in itself is not proof, and the road here has never been excavated, however it takes us north to Hunter Hill, which is the first point where the road is known with absolute certainty, turning through about 45 degrees to head north east. This section appears to have been laid out along a line of sight alignment between here and Cockhill, a hillock north east of Ogden reservoir. The road was marked on the first edition Ordnance Survey map (Ordnance Survey, 1852), and crucially is still visible today on lidar and on aerial photos. The OS map recorded five short lengths of Roman Road, allowing us to plot its line with reasonable accuracy. The middle three lengths are now on Halifax Golf Course, although the eastern stretch still survives in part and is also visible on lidar (fig. 14), to the east of Ogden Reservoir. This was excavated in 1963 at approximately SE 0635 3130 , and again just a little further along in 1971 by Percival Whitley College Archaeological Society (Moorhouse, 1972, p.219) both excavations uncovering a substantial road 6m wide with rock-cut side ditches, and surfaced with gritstone boulders (fig. 15). It is unfortunate that the road was not actually sectioned in either excavation, as the boulders are most probably a medieval or post-medieval resurfacing of the Roman structure, clear traces of which can be seen protruding from beneath the edge of the layer of boulders on the photograph.

The road then skirts the edge of Cockhill and keeps on the same line until it meets the modern A629 near Sun Side, at which point the alignment changes to head almost due north. The route does, it has to be said, seem a little peculiar, John James writing in 1846 stating that this was not a change in direction, but rather a junction. If James was right, the new alignment actually represents a road heading north through Halifax, presumably from Slack. Codrington recorded such a road, but all attempts since to find any trace of it have all failed. Following the enclosures of much of this area in the early 19th century, it seems that much of the road was dug up, partly to clear the way for ploughing,partly as an easy quarry for walling stone. John James (James, 1849, pp. 26-32), recorded many instances of this having happened, the results being that we his record provides a good indication of the route but that we also know that archaeological evidence will be patchy. Having said that, a few successful excavations by Donald Haigh took place in the 1970s & 1980s  all confirming the general course of the road, although leaving large questions about its detailed line. In 1983, he excavated part of a 98m long agger at Denholme Gate, marked on the 1st edition OS map (Ordnance Survey, 1852), at about SE 070332 (Frere, 1984, p.283), revealing a road 5m wide bordered by small ‘gullies’, with pollen analysis suggesting a former woodland environment. The course of the road north from here is uncertain for the next mile, but is assumed to cross the A629 and head straight down the slope at Dean Brow and up the other side, which does seem a little unlikely with gradients approaching 1 in 6, afterwards approximating to the course of the A629 through Denholme as far as Manywells Height. Lidar shows signs of cuttings suggesting that it might cross Milking Hole Beck a little east of the modern road, but this is far from certain.

The route then presumably takes it across fields to a point just east of West Manywells Farm, where the road is marked on OS maps, although fieldwalking by Tony Wright, Jane Houghton and the author in 2014 revealed a possible alternative line through a cutting about 45m east of the marked line. This alternative lines up well with the known course of the road north of Ellar Carr, and when taken along with lidar evidence would suggest that that the marked line on OS maps has somehow become misplaced 30m - 45m east of where it should be. It was only during the writing of this entry that it was discovered that Francis Villy had actually noticed the same error a century earlier (Villy, 1910)! For the next mile and a half, the road appears to be laid out along a straight alignment, with necessary deviation presumably made to negotiate the steep slopes by Ellar Carr Beck. The road then continues straight to Hainworth Shaw, where it has been destroyed in Shaw Quarry, re-emerging on the other side along a slightly more easterly alignment, following the contour on a terraceway some 5.2m wide (Turnbull, 1982, p.177). This was excavated by Donald Haigh who found metalling 5m wide with a 0.8m wide ditch on its lower side (Frere, 1983, p.295), which is curious, ditches on terraceways usually being on the upslope side. The road must cross Back Shaw lane, but there is no obvious trace of it on the other side. Brigg records many accounts of the breaking up and removal of the road (Brigg, 1907, p358-9) in this vicinity, although does not give us a clear picture of where the road went next, but Long Lee seems likely. Certainly, that was what Villy drew on Map 3 of his 1940 account (Villy, 1940a, p. 117).

From Long Lee, the Roman engineers faced a major problem in working out how best to descend the extremely steep slopes into Airedale. There are two possibilities, both detailed by Villy. His first thought was a descent from Long Lee by a series of zigzags down Thwaites Brow (Villy 1910), and then crossing the R. Aire near East Riddlesden. He later changed his opinion and determined that a crossing at Marley was a more likely option (Villy, 1919), again involving a series of zigzags. Moorhouse identified a series of at least four holloways at Marley and determined at the very least that this was an important medieval route (West Yorkshire HER mon. 5089). Whilst he suggested that this was the likely route of RR720a, he provided no evidence. These are really the only two options, and it is clear from the high degree of braiding on both routes that they have both been used over many centuries to descend into Airedale from Harden Moor. Unfortunately, as the route up the other side of Airedale is not known either, that can’t assist in locating the route on the southern side, or the probable crossing point. For a route to Ilkley however, the Thwaites Brow route is certainly slightly more direct, and Donald Haigh did identify a possible short length of agger at SE 077408 (Turnbull, 1982, p.177), although it is hard to fit this into a coherent route. Lidar shows an old road that clearly pre-dates the modern lane at Thwaites Brow (fig. 16), and it aligns extremely well with the supposed route of the road at Long Lee, but there are no obvious signs of Roman planning or construction. Of the two, Thwaites Brow is marginally favoured for one reason alone, the discovery by Donald Haigh of a length of possible Roman road on the other side of the R. Aire near East Riddlesden. Haigh excavated at Morton Banks cricket field  and found a steeply cambered road c. 5m wide, bordered by the foundation of a substantial wall (Frere, 1983, p.295). There is insufficient information from the brief description to be able to assess whether or not this road was indeed Roman.

Attempting to determine the route of the road onthe lower slopes on the northern side of Airedale is really just guesswork. Lidar coverage is good almost to about the 220m contour, including the suggestively named Street Lane that leads northwest up the slope through East Morton, presumably meaning “the lane leading to the main road”. Two pipelines and the remains of an old railway line show very well, but there is no trace of a Roman road so it must be assumed that the digging up of the road described by Brigg on Harden Moor was even more total on these slopes, although no contemporary descriptions are known. It is generally thought that the road, wherever it crossed the R. Aire, headed up onto Morton Moor and Rombalds Moor somewhere east of Ilkley Road and made its way up to Whetstone Gate where the modern radio masts stand.

Villy claimed to have located the road where it crosses the Bradup Beck, northeast of Upwood Hall Farm, at about SE09454388, however in 1964, the Ordnance Survey’s highly experienced Field Investigator, F. Emsley could find “No trace of bridge abutment or of any other crossing” (Ordnance Survey c.1984). It can only be concluded that he was looking in the wrong place, as there is a very obvious cutting on the southern bank of the Beck, 42m long, 9m wide at its greatest extent, and over 2.5m deep. It is very narrow at its base, although the original width is impossible to determine without excavation due to severe erosion. At the equivalent point on the northern side there is a very obvious bridge ramp, which Emsley simply could not have missed had he seen it. Like the cutting to the south, the roadway is narrow, just 2.75m, although this does widen as the trackway leads into a hollow-way some 50m long. Haigh described this as slightly curved (Turnbull, 1982, p.`177), although when viewed from above both sides appear to have been straight when built (fig. 17). There can be no doubt that there was once a bridge, not a ford. The one comment to be made however is that both approaches are quite narrow, the southern side possibly as little as two metres, although erosion makes it difficult to be sure without excavation. Donald Haigh noted several lengths of agger between here and Whetstone Gate, at the top of the moor.

Further up the slope a well laid out road can just be traced through the heather, although multiple tracks have developed over the millenia which can be very confusing on the ground. As Donald Haigh pointed out (ibid.) the original course is not as sinuous as other writers have suggested, and comprises discontinuous lengths of straight agger which range between 4.8m and 6.5m in width, along three, possibly four alignments. Haigh sectioned the road at the summit, immediately south of Whetstone Gate, revealing a cambered road some 5.3m wide, constructed of rammed gravel some 0.3m thick, topped in places by the “remains of a metal like skin less than 1cm thick” (ibid.).

The route down to Ilkley is much easier to determine. Heading north from Whetstone gate, the Roman line keeps just to the eastern side of Keighley Road (which is now just a track), a short length of which can still be seen at about SE 10204535. Where Keighley Road swings away slightly north, the Roman line keeps straight on cutting the corner, Keighley Road cutting across it again at about SE 1063 4619. The Roman line is then destroyed by centuries of braiding, although when Keighley road turns slightly west of north, the Roman line is again just visible on some aerial photos. Keighley Road swings back to cut across it yet again, at about the point where the drive to Silver Well Cottage heads west.  Lidar coverage finally resumes here, and the Roman road is clearly visible for the next 260m, until it vanishes beneath the modern housing of Ilkley.

Fig. 15  Photograph of the 1963 excavation near Ogden Reservoir, photographer unknown. Thanks to John Gilks for providing us with a copy.

From Manchester another military way seems to have passed by Blakeley village and Middleton to Littleborough on Blackstone Edge, where may be seen the area of a Fort or station, so by Ripendon and Thornton vill over Rumbles moor to Ilkley, anciently Olicana, where Roman alters and other monuments of Roman grandure are found. Having passed over the River Wharf it crosses the heathy moors, where it is often lost to Blewborough Houses and by Ripley to Aldborough.

Warburton, c.1718

The first known mention of a Roman road from Manchester to Ilkley and then Aldborough was made by John Warburton

In 1773 the Rev John Whitaker gave an indication of its route, but with a high degree of uncertainty;

 Branching probably from the way to Cambodunum [ie the road from Manchester to York] about Ancoats-lane, and traversing the township obliquely, it passed by Street-fold in Moston, Street-bridge in Chatherton, and Street-gate in Ryton, and pointed evidently for Littleborough and Ilkley. And these three appellations ascertain the general direction of its course and supply the want of any actual remains, or even of any traditional notices concerning it. Leaving Street Fold and the parish, it advanced by Street Bridge and Street Gate, and was lately dug up near Rochdale. About a quarter of a mile to the right of the town, and near the road from Oldham, it was cut through in making a marle pit, and appeared several yards in breadth and deeply gravelled…"

Whitaker, 1773, pp. 119-120

Fig. 16 Lidar image showing a route down Thwaites Brow that pre-dates the modern lane, and that shows signs of engineering

Fig. 17  Aerial photograph of the Bradup Beck, showing clearly the cuttings and bridge ramp identified by Villy but somehow missed by Emsley.

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RR720a from Manchester to  lkley is without doubt the most difficult Roman road in Yorkshire, with so many questions remaining unanswered. It is deserving of much more attention than it actually receives. To go in to detail about work that needs to be done would probably take another entry as large as this one! Perhaps the easiest way to conclude is simply to list those general questions:

  1. Can any part of the supposed route from Manchester to Littleborough be determined with certainty, using lidar, geophysics, or any other method?
  2. Is there any evidence of a road from Wigan to Littleborough, rather than from Manchester?
  3. Can the true course of the Roman road up Blackstone Edge be determined beyond question, once and for all?
  4. Does the route of the road between Blackstone Edge and Luddenden foot go past Great Manshead Hill, or does it follow the “traditional” route via Sowerby?
  5. Can the route from Luddenden Foot to Norton Tower be determined?
  6. Can Donald Haigh’s probable route between Norton Tower and Hunter Hill be confirmed by fieldwork?
  7. Is the major change of alignment at Cockhill actually a junction, as James and Codrington claimed?
  8. Can the route through Denholme past Cullingworth be confirmed?
  9. Where does the road descend into Airedale, and where does it cross the river?
  10. How does it ascend towards Bradup Beck, and can this crossing be confirmed as Roman?
  11. Can Donald Haigh’s route from Bradup Beck to Whetstone Gate be confirmed
  12. Can the two intermediate sites that must have existed to break its 41 mile course, most probably near Littleborough and Denholme, be identified?

If only a few of these questions can ever be answered, our understanding of how Roman roads were planned and built when traversing hill areas such as this, would be greatly enhanced.

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"The older road is seventeen feet wide and made of gravelly stone. The edges are sharply defined, and show the beginning of a camber; the centre, however, is in very poor condition and only a few inches thick. So far as it remains this accords with the usual Roman road as seen in the hills, and with the Manchester Ilkley Roman road further north." (Francis Villy, 1940 p.386)

This line was excavated more recently in 2008 & 2011 by the Littleborough Historical & Archaeological Society who uncovered a road in three trenches. It was found to be 5.4 metres wide, cambered, and constructed of hard packed small stones, sand and gravel, with smooth river washed pebbles forming the running surface. Side ditches were set an average 3.6m from the edge of the road, which is certainly indicative of a Roman road. Two phases of construction and use were identified.

The road was not deeply enough buried to be the one witnessed by Horsley, but it is always possible that Horsley saw it further up on the moor, where it may well be deep. The Littleborough society have also investigated a possible fortlet site adjacent to this road near Cloise Farm, although their investigations are inconclusive. There certainly ought to be a fort or fortlet in this vicinity or a little south west, given the distance from Manchester (14 miles), and Warburton’s description does mention one near Littleborough, although inexplicably he drew it on his map near Ripponden - it has never been located.  If this is the road, then it would appear that it’s route from Littleborough to Staindrod Lane is essentially that of the A58, but where does it go next?

Margary's Roman Roads in Britain, road 720a

Entry prepared by Mike Haken.  Last updated, 29 January 2018

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