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© Mike Haken & RRRA, 2018
HE Pastscape Mon. 1325785 Various features
HE Pastscape Mon. 53155 Thorner, branch road
HE Pastscape Mon. 1369579 RR72b Guiseley Moor,
HE Pastscape Mon. 1374229 RR72b West Carlton
HE Pastscape Mon. 1374240 RR72b Otley Old Rd.
HE Pastscape Mon. 1374262 Otley Old Road
HE Pastscape Mon. 1371477 RR72b Cookridge to Adel
HE Pastscape Mon. 53155 Thorner, branch road
HE Pastscape Mon. 1200012 RR72b Newton Kyme
Historic Environment Records, HE Pastscape and other online records
Roman Sites on Route:
West Riding of Yorkshire
Ilkley (Olenacum? or Verbeia?) Pastscape
Newton Kyme Fort Pastscape
Newton Kyme Vicus Pastscape
Tadcaster (Calcaria) Pastscape
Although there are still many gaps in our knowledge (especially at its eastern end), this is one of the best preserved Roman roads in Yorkshire. Yet, despite this, very little of it was ever marked on Ordnance Survey maps, indeed the current 1:25000 map only shows a short portion between Scarcroft and Tadcaster and half of that is probably wrong!
The road, which runs down Wharfedale from Ilkley maintaining a course along the southern side of the valley to Tadcaster, appears on John Warburton’s Map of Yorkshire (Warburton 1720), although as usual his draughting of the route is very vague. Francis Drake also recorded it (Drake, 1736, p.19), although he seems to have relied on Warburton, stating that “Mr Warburton who traced this road and has delineated it in his map of the county says its stone pavement is yet in many places very firm being 8 yards broad.” Almost two centuries passed before Percival Ross surveyed the road in detail, a work that still forms the basis of our current understanding (Ross, 1918).
For the first mile and a half, Ross’s description is quite vague presumably because the road wasn’t easily visible, taking the line along Green Lane (now called “The Grove”) past the station then “along a line of fences and short pieces of road to Ben Rhydding House”. This is probably represented by a line approximating to the B6382 Springs Lane and then beneath the modern housing estate. Where Ross first describes it in detail is just east of the modern estate, and sure enough a feature that looks like the remains of an agger, the raised mound on which Roman roads were built, can be seen on lidar emerging from beneath the clubhouse of Ben Rhydding Golf Club (fig.1). The feature agrees perfectly with the line on the 1851 OS map (fig. 2) although, curiously, by 1895 the OS had removed it from the map, never to return. The road remains visible on lidar until it crosses Ben Rhydding Drive at about SE14254677. Ross lost it here as well, but picked it up again in Burley in Wharfedale, which is also where modern evidence starts to appear, a section being excavated in 1979 (Jones, 1980) at SE16354555 .
In 1963, the road was claimed to be discovered in a sewer trench at Menston Hospital, at SE175444 (Ramm, 1964, p.172), however the location is some 200m south west of Ross’s line. A continuation of this feature was investigated by Donald Haigh and others in 1989, along the Bridle way (which Haigh claimed was along the road line) just north east of Burley Road, and aiming for the probable road crossing at Ellar Ghyll (Finney, 1990, p.20). This line, running almost due West -
Option 1 seems unlikely, as Donald Haigh was a highly experienced and knowledgeable researcher, but can’t be ruled out entirely. Option 2 is most likely, other branch roads of unknown purpose are known off RR72b further east. Option 3 is a possibility, but less likely. The road discovered in 1963 was clearly built on unstable or wet ground, being built above rows of small piles (up to 3ins wide) driven into the natural clay, which tends to support this alternative. The truth is, however, that we simply don’t know with any certainty -
As just referred to, further east, the road is known with certainty to the south of The Chevin, on Guiseley Moor. Ross excavated a section across the road in 1917 at approx SE19674380 (Ross 1918, p, 297), revealing a road some 13ft 6 inches across (just over 4m), including kerbs constructed of small rocks and boulders, and a well cambered structure of small stones rammed together, about 30cm thick resting on bedrock (fig. 4). This does seem somewhat narrow, as Roman roads are generally at least 17ft (5m) on top of aggers which are often much wider. Aerial photography seems to show an agger which could be up to 11m wide (fig. 5), so the discrepancy is puzzling, especially as the road is wider further on. Ross, in 1918, described a standing stone on the line of the road, which he interpreted as a milestone. The stone has since been removed.
Coming off the moor there is no evidence of the road on aerial photos, nor could Ross find it, for over a mile, although the probable line passes south of Majentta Farm then just south of East Carlton. It starts to become apparent again at about SE 2249 4280 where it cuts at an acute angle across a public footpath, just west of Harrogate Road (A658). Two trial trenches were cut by Archaeological Services, WYAS, prior to laying a pipeline in 1996, where the road structure was found to be 0.6m thick and about 6m wide, with flanking ditches 3m beyond that (Burnham, Keppie & Cleary 1997, p420). This 12m overall width (approx.) between ditches is consistent with most of the other excavations on this road. From there it is clearly visible on aerial photos, including Bing and Google Earth (fig. 6), as far as Otley Old Road, where it was sectioned by A Womersley in 1978 (Moorhouse 1979, p.6). Womersley found the road to be between 4.8 and 5.3m wide, with a thickness of 0.45m, and a camber rising to 0.125m above the kerb on the north side. He also found a central spine of large stones in the foundation, a feature found in some other Roman roads, which is thought to have been a method for setting out the line of the road (fig. 7). Womersley also found a “v” section ditch cutting across the road, which may relate to the feature visible on aerial photos which could be a branch road, or perhaps a later re-
The road follows this new alignment for about two and a half miles, the agger being still visible in places, especially between SE 25246 41531 and SE 25566 41464, where it was sectioned in 1966 (Radley 1967 p.2). The line is then marked by a continuous line of hedges and walls, incorporated into one of which Ross observed several “curious trough-
The road was excavated near the crossing of the Adel Beck, by Archaeological Services, WYAS, in 2002, after initial investigation by the Adel Archaeology Group. Beneath the Roman road a lattice of narrow timbers, similar to a technique usually referred to as corduroy, was revealed (fig. 8). This is a well known technique, utilised by the Romans and still used in the 19th century, to carry a road across marshy ground. However, when dated by Carbon 14, the timbers were found to date from the mid 1st century BC (possible date range of 180BC to AD30, with 95% confidence) (Jefferson & Roberts, 2006). The inescapable conclusion was that the Romans utilised the same crossing of the beck as an earlier Iron Age trackway. It may also be evidence that Roman style construction techniques were already in use in Britain in the in the pre-
Continuing eastwards, the agger can be easily traced across Headingley Golf Course, with the remains of a later hedgebank on top of it in places. Pastscape, rather oddly, state that “no remains of Roman Road can be distinguished.…in the area” (see Pastscape Mon. 1371477). The road then climbs to the high ground near Alwoodley, where on the far side of the summit, a good sighting point, it makes a slight change of alignment, now heading close to due east, on a line probably close to Alwoodley Lane The line was confirmed at its western end in Alwoodley by excavation prior to housing development (Abramson & Fraser 1994), and can be seen at its eastern end on lidar imagery on Alwoodley Golf Course (fig. 11), however most of it in between has probably been destroyed by housing and the modern road.
Just before reaching Manor House Lane (SE 3194 4070), at another high point, the alignment changes to head ENE The road is very clear on lidar (fig. 10) until RR729 bears off Eastwards at about SE 3426 4119. Up to the junction with RR729, the line as now known by excavation and modern techology agrees almost to the letter with Percival Ross’s description. From this point however, Ross regarded RR729 as the main road and traced it almost perfectly, finding traces in Bramham Park where none now survive.
Returning to RR72b, it is thought to have headed NNE from the junction with RR729, towards Scarcroft. Nothing survives above ground over this stretch and, despite good lidar coverage, this technology does not help until the other side of Scarcroft. This part of the road was labelled “Hancaster Rigg” on John Warburton’s map (Warburton 1720), a name which persisted as Hawcaster Rigg until very recently when applied to the agger of RR72b crossing Alwoodley Golf Course. Exactly what or where the “caster” may be is not known. Warburton marks the road with a dotted line, and perhaps he did not visit himself, as he would surely have spotted the clear agger of RR729, which he does not mention in his journal or on his map. Wherever his information came from, the implication is that it was not visible through Scarcroft. The supposed line heads across two more Golf Courses, this time the Moor Allerton Golf Club and the Scarcroft Golf Course, but on this occasion there are no obvious remains of the road. It is assumed that it headed to the Bardsey Beck, close to the notorious site known as Pompocali, where a mile long length of surviving agger begins.
A serious alternative to the conventional route would be one that branched from a point south of Scarcroft Lodge, and headed up the valley of the Scarcroft Beck to Pompocali. There are a few hints to this on lidar, but nothing totally convincing. It is worth noting that this route would have involved building 2km LESS road, and is only 300m further overall, making it a very attractive option. This would of course mean that RR729 was the principal route to Tadcaster. Both alternatives are marked on our mapping.
Eighteenth century antiquarians, notably Ralph Thoresby, could not interpret the large mounds at Pompocali and ascribed them to the Romans, giving the place its name after an unidentified place in the Ravenna Cosmography. For the avoidance of doubt, Pompocali is just a quarry, of unknown date, although possibly with Roman origins. The place name Pampocalia, or Pompocali, is thought to have been a scribal error conflating the two places Campodunum (possibly Adel) and Calcaria (Castleford) (Richmond and Crawford 1949, p43).
From Pompocali however, the course is well known, and appears clearly on lidar. It probably had a slight kink going upstream to avoid the steam slopes of the beck valley, possibly approximating to the modern right of way east of Bardsey Beck. Certainly, once emerging onto easier ground above the Beck, the road is represented by the footpath, with follows the remains of the agger for 400m, before bearing away to the SE leaving the Roman line to continue across the fields (fig. 12). It eventually meets Thorner Lane, where the Roman line is assumed to being followed for about two miles before disappearing in the village of Bramham. Lidar suggests that another road branches off north north eastwards at about SE 3999 4284. Its destination is not known, heading too far east to be going to the villa at Dalton Parlours.
From Bramham, the conventional line takes it along the very un-
Click Images to enlarge
Fig. 1 Lidar image showing agger on Ben Rhydding Golf Course.
Fig. 2 Line of RR72b superimposed on 1851 OS six inch map, showing how lidar confirms the original map survey.
Fig. 4 Photo of the excavation by Percival Ross in 1917 on Guiseley Moor, Otley Chevin.
Fig. 6 Google Earth 2006 image showing line of RR72b past Green Gates Farm, Otley Old Road, as well as a possible branch road
Fig. 5 Bing aerial photo of the Chevin, Otley, near Moor View Farm, showing a cropmark indicating the remains of the agger of RR72b.
Fig. 7 The central spine under RR72b near Otley Old Road, which was used to set out the line of the road. Note the marks from the plough, which has removed much of the road structure.
Ambramson, P. & Fraser, R. (1993); Lakeland Crescent, Alwoodley: An Archaeological Evaluation. Northern Archaeological Associates report.
Bidwell, P., & Hodgson, N. (2009); The Roman Army in Northern England, The Arbeia Society, Newcastle
Boutwood, Yvonne (1996); Roman Fort and Vicus, Newton Kyme, North Yorkshire; Britannia, Vol 27. Cambridge University Press, pp. 340-
Burnham, B. C., Keppie, L. J. F. and Cleary, A. S. E. (1997) “I. Sites Explored,” Britannia Vol, 28. Cambridge University Press, pp. 395–453.
Finney, Anne. (1990); The Yorkshire Archaeological Register 1989, YAS, Leeds
Haken, M. (2012), Cambodunum, A re-
Jefferson, P & Roberts, I., (2006) Adel Roman Road, Adel, Leeds, Archaeological Evaluation, Archaeological Services WYAS Report no. 1468
Jones, D. (1980); The Yorkshire Archaeological Register; The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, Vol 52. YAS, Leeds
Margary, Ivan D. (1973); Roman Roads in Britain, John Baker, London
Moorhouse, S. (1979); The Yorkshire Archaeological Register; Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, Vol. 51. YAS, Leeds
Pastscape Mon. No. 1200012 (2017) http://pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=1200012 Accessed 14/8/17 Historic England, Swindon
Ordnance Survey (2011) Roman Britain 6th edition Ordnance Survey, Southampton
Radley, J. (1967); The Yorkshire Archaeological Register; The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, Vol 52. YAS, Leeds pp. 2-
Ramm, H. (Ed.) (1964); The Yorkshire Archaeological Register; The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, Vol 41 (part 162) pp. 160 -
Richmond, I. A., & Crawford, O. G. S.. (1949); The British Section of the Ravenna Cosmography in Archaeologia vol. 93 pp1-
Rivet, A.L.F. & Smith, Colin. (1979), The Place Names of Roman Britain, B.T.Batsford, London
Ross, Percival (1918), “Roman Roads in Yorkshire -
Ross, Percival (1921), Roman Road Excavation on Otley Chevin.; Bradford Antiquarian, vol 6, pp297-
Warburton, J. (1720) A New and Correct Map of Yorkshire in all its Divisions. London
Wilson, P. (2016); The Roman Period Name for Adel; Britannia Vol, 47., Cambridge University Press, pp.280–285
Fig. 8 Timber lattice found beneath RR72B at Adel Beck, and dated to 1st Century BC.
Fig. 9 Bing aerial image showing line of probable Roman road heading NNE to meet RR72a at the Roman settlement north of Adel.The feature has not been investigated.
Fig. 10 RR72b crossing Headingley Golf Course, Leeds, looking west toward Ilkley. The low agger and northern flanking ditch are clear to see. Photo taken with the kind permission of Headingley Golf Club.
Fig. 11 Lidar showing RR72b across Alwoodley Golf Course, and its “junction” with RR729.
Fig. 12 Lidar image showing RR72b NNE from Pompocali.
Fig. 14 The revised road network west of York, showing the network of surveyed alignments
Fig. 3 Terrain map illustrating route of RR72b near Menston and the road found in 1963 and 1989 on a different line
Lidar and aerial photography provide the answer. A linear feature has been identified starting at SE 4290 4331 aligned with the end of Thorner road as it turns just west of the A1 (fig. 13). This line would have taken a road through Bramham and crossing Carr Beck where the gradients are easy to negotiate. After just 110m, the feature changes alignment and heads ENE as far as Windmill Road when it is lost. The line is, however, taken up by a second faint but clear linear feature which can be traced from SE 4405 4380 to SE 4486 4418, skirting the southern edge of Oglethorpe Hall Farm. If these features are the remains of a road, it would be heading towards the fort and settlement at Newton Kyme. Heading ESE from Newton Kyme, a second road has been identified from aerial photographs taken in 1995 and 1996 which runs ESE from SE 4589 4446 to SE 4672 4417 (Pastscape Mon. 1200012, 2017), in the general direction of Tadcaster. If both these features are projected, they meet at a point on the known road that head through the settlement and into the fort at Newton Kyme (RR280, Rudgate) about 700m south of the southern gate of the later fort at the very edge of the extra-
It seems, therefore, that RR72b was planned to meet RR280 at the southern fringe of the extra-
Fig. 13 Lidar image showing the newly discovered probable agger heading past Oglethorpe towards Newton Kyme
Entry prepared by Mike Haken -