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© Mike Haken & RRRA, 2018
Historic Environment Records, HE Pastscape and other records
West Riding of Yorkshire
This eight mile length of Roman road was given its own number by Ivan Margary (Margary 1973, p. 409), although from its planning it is far from clear whether this a discrete road, or actually part of the road from Ilkley to Tadcaster. Another road, usually considered to be part of RR72b, is about a mile further north, and recent research suggests that it was planned to take a more northerly route passing close to the fort and settlement at Newton Kyme. The function of RR729 is therefore a little puzzling, as it is neither shorter or easier than the alternative just a mile to the north. It is in effect a bypass, avoiding any proximity to the large extra-
It appears that RR729 was planned along a single alignment between its end points, and whilst it is impossible to determine from which end the alignment was laid out, it is clear than the detailed course of the road was planned from its eastern end as the road utilises the alignment for at least one and a half miles. A line projected from its eastern end at its junction with RR28 (Garnet Lane, Tadcaster) to its other end near Scarcroft fits very well with the course of the road from Garnet Lane, as can be seen on fig 1. It is also clear from the very slight alignment change as it crosses the Rudgate (RR280) that Rudgate was already built when RR729 was laid out.
Working from east to west, the course of road is marked by cropmarks which extend for about one and a half miles as far as Warren Lane. In the field west of Warren Lane (SE 4457 4201) a low agger is still discernable about 11m across (fig 2.). Further west, crossing the A1 and continuing through Bramham Park, its course is not visible on aerial photographs but it is thought that it deviated from the main alignment at around SE 4331 4178 to avoid a series of deep valleys and steep slopes in the southern part of Bramham Park. Lidar has revealed a short length of possible agger west of Paradise Farm and the A1 either side of Openrakes Beck which if confirmed would suggest that the usually quoted route across Bramham Park is correct, although it only survives as a medieval holloway. (fig. 4). Part of the holloway, which was marked as Roman on OS maps, (fig.4) was excavated prior to 1985 during the construction of a horse trial jump, but no trace of Roman construction was found (Pastscape Mon. 55039, 2017).
Continuing west beyond Bramham Park, the road shows occasionally as a cropmark at SE 39764107 to about SE 3908 4102 and was detected two fields further west during a geophysical survey conducted in 1997 (Whittingham, 1997). The geophysics results suggest that the road may have turned south westwards at about SE 3839 4086 to avoid the steep eastern slope of the valley of the Mill Beck and this has now been confirmed by lidar. It then presumably turned near Thorner church to head just north of west, and it is close to this point where traditionally the Roman road from Manchester (RR712) has been thought to join it, although no evidence for this exists.
The line marked on Ordnance Survey maps west of this point (fig. 5) as far as the Scargill Beck is probably close to the actual route, although nothing is visible on either aerial photos or lidar. West of the Beck the course is known with certainty, as can be seen on the lidar image (fig. 6). It is still visible on the ground at Scarcroft Grange, where the agger measures some 10m across, consistent with how it shows on lidar and aerial photographs at various places along its length.
It is worth noting that at its junction with RR72b, it seems to form a continuous curve with RR72b heading west (fig. 6), implying that the two are actually one road, or at least became so. Indeed, in his definitive early 20th century description of the Roman road from Ilkley to Bramham moor (RR72b), Percival Ross regarded RR729 as being part of it, and apparently had no knowledge of a road north westwards from Scarcroft (Ross, 1918). It is also worth noting that lidar shows no sign of RR72b heading north east at this point and it is strange that RR72b apparently doesn’t survive above ground when RR729 shows so clearly.
Margary, Ivan D. (1973); Roman Roads in Britain, John Baker, London
Ross, Percival (1918), “Roman Roads in Yorkshire -
Whittingham, M. (1997); Bramham Rd., Thorner, West Yorkshire -
Fig. 6 Lidar image showingthe course of RR729 west of Thorner, and its “junction” with RR72b.
Click Images to enlarge
Fig. 3 Lidar image overlaying Bing aerial photo showing a possible length of agger just west of the A1 and other features possibly indicating the route across Bramham Park. The route is known with certainty either side of this image.
Fig. 4 1955 OS map showing probable course of RR729 near Bramham
Entry compiled by Mike Haken, last updated, 22 March 2018
Fig. 1 Google Earth aerial photograph from 2007 showing Roman roads west of Tadcaster
Fig. 2 Photo by Olly Cooper showing the clearly visible agger of RR729 west of Warren Lane, Bramham Moor
Fig. 5 1955 OS map with course of RR729 marked south of Scarcroft
Roman Sites on Route: