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© Mike Haken & RRRA, 2018
Codrington, Thomas (1903); Roman Roads in Britain, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London
Drake, Francis (1736); Eboracum: or the History and Antiquities of the City of York, London.
Foreman, M. (1994); An Archaeological Watching Brief during Roadworks on the B1248 at Fimber, North Humberside (July-
Jeffery, Thomas (1771); The County of York engraved by Thomas Jeffery, geographer to his Majesty, Plate IX
Macmahon, K.A. (1964), Roads and Turnpike Trusts in Eastern Yorkshire, East Yorkshire Local History Society, York
Available at http://www.eylhs.org.uk/dl/128/roads-
Margary, Ivan D. (1973); Roman Roads in Britain, John Baker, London
Maule Cole, Rev. E (1899); On Roman Roads in the East Riding in Transactions of the East Riding Antiquarian Society, Vol. 7. Available online at https://archive.org/details/transactions21socigoog accessed 20/7/17
Newton, Sir Charles (1847); Map of British and Roman Yorkshire, Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, London
Fig. 2 Map from Eboracum, by Francis Drake, 1734
Fig. 4 Google Earth aerial photograph from 2005 showing the linear feature claimed by Maule Cole and others to be a Roman road
Click Images to enlarge
Fig. 5 Google Earth aerial photograph from 2005 showing part of the linear feature claimed by Maule Cole and others to be a Roman road, near Angus Farm, and showing possible ladder settlement.
Fig. 3 Aerial photo taken with a drone, looking along Beverley Road from above the A166, clearly showing how this road became thought to be Roman.
Like so many of the Roman roads in eastern Yorkshire, the Roman road from Norton-
It first appeared on Sir Charles Newton’s map of 1846 (Newton, 1847), marked as “ascertained”, although it is far from clear what evidence he saw to base his claims upon. In his description he took the Roman road (fig. 1) which heads eastwards out of Norton (RR812, probably to Bridlington) and is known as far as Settrington Bank, and then takes it heading south to North Grimston and south east to Wharram le Street and beyond. Such a route negotiating difficult terrain around Settrington bank would seem highly unlikely and un-
The impression given by these many diverse suggestions is that all the writers after Newton were assuming that the road existed, and then setting out to suggest its route, rather than interpreting the evidence objectively. It is worth noting that the road doesn’t appear on Warburton’s map of Yorkshire of 1720, indeed he didn’t identify a single Roman road leading from Malton/Norton). Nor is it on Drake’s map of 1736 so its existence wasn’t obvious even in the early 18th century. Indeed, in order to account for a “street” place name, which to antiquarians of that period always indicated a Roman road, Drake moved Wharram-
If such a road did exist, the most logical route would be something approximating to the modern Beverley road (B1248) which avoids most of the deep and steep valleys that characterise this part of the Yorkshire Wolds. The straightness of this road from Wharram-
South of the A166, the course of the road was described by Maule Cole as follows: “Up to the Enclosure Act for Wetwang at the beginning of the present century, it ran straight from High Towthorpe to Thorndale, leaving Wetwang a quarter of a mile to the left, and then it passed, as a raised mound, half a mile to the left of Tibthorpe, to Bainton, a little to the west of the village. It is still to be seen in the fields and hedgerows.” (Maule Cole 1899, p. 43). There are numerous aerial photographs in the Historic England archive which have been claimed to show short portions of a Roman road along Maule Cole’s route running from the A166 at least as far southeast as Bainton. Modern technology, however, allows us to look at the whole feature at once, rather than in short sections. Images on Google Earth from 2005 (fig 4.), and current ones from Digital Globe (presented by Apple) make it clear that this feature, whilst following a generally straight course, exhibits little sign of Roman layout or construction. It does incorporate one or two straight lengths, which could easily be interpreted as Roman when taken in isolation, but changes of alignment seem to happen for no reason of planning or topography. The feature taken as a whole is quite sinuous.
Parts of the feature as seen from the crop marks have more of the appearance of an Iron Age trackway rather than a Roman road, indeed the southern end of the “clear straight alignment visible….just west of Angus Farm” (SE 951535), identified from an RAF vertical image (note 9. In the Humber HER record) appears on the Google imagery to be far from straight and actually part of a ladder settlement (fig. 5). Some of these straight lengths do merit further investigation, to establish whether or not they provide evidence that the Romans may have improved a pre-
Fig. 1 Parchmark showing the course of RR812 heading east from Norton-
Roman Sites on Route:
Historic Environment Records, HE Pastscape and other records
Malton / Norton
East Riding of Yorkshire, North Riding of Yorkshire
In conclusion, aerial photography suggests that RR813, at least in part, originated as a prehistoric trackway which was certainly in use in the late Iron Age, and seems to have been the main route from Malton and Norton to Beverley through the medieval period until the nineteenth century. Parts of it remain in use today. The frequency of Roman finds along its course certainly suggests that it was utilised during the Roman period, although whether or not Roman construction took place at places along it is currently unclear, and merits further research. It should probably not be regarded as a Roman road in the true sense, showing no evidence of Roman surveying, layout or engineering. Given that it cannot yet be entirely dismissed, the route is shown as uncertain for its entire length on our mapping.
The modern East Riding of Yorkshire, the area approximating to the territory of the Iron Age tribe of the Parisi, was not heavily militarised during the Roman period. Unlike the territory of its neighbour to the west, the Brigantes, Roman military sites are rare. The lack of a known Roman military site, or a major settlement, which could have been a possible destination for this supposed road, should have been a warning to previous researchers. In general, roads were built either to serve the purposes of the empire, specifically the Roman army, or on occasion to serve important civilian settlements such as Civitas capitals like Petuaria, Brough on Humber. Given the handful of such sites in the East Riding, we should not be surprised if, when examining the evidence objectively, we find that Roman roads are actually even scarcer than we previously thought.
Entry prepared by Mike Haken. Last updated, 2 June 2017