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Home Gazetteer of Roads Margary's Numbering Itineraries & Sources Glossary/Biography RRRA Website

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Roman villa site, the Water House, Burton

Villa or Settlement site, Burton Cliff Farm

Site of Roman Cemetery

Possible villa site, Burton

Roman Pottery Kilns, South Carlton


4 Miles


There has been speculation in the past about a Roman road heading NNW out of Lincoln, being represented by Burton Road and its extension Middle Street, the B1398. However, monitoring of trenching by both City of Lincoln Archaeological Unit and Lindsey Archaeological Services in the 1990s, established that there was no Roman origin to that road (Lindsey Archaeological Services, 1996, p.3), another example of Street being mis-interpreted as indicating a Roman road.  The idea of a road in that vicinity is, however, quite logical and during the study of lidar images whilst plotting Ermine Street (RR2d) north of Lincoln for this Gazetteer, a “new” Roman road was discovered by the author just east of the B1398, which branched from Ermine Street about 150m north of the north gate, the Newport Arch. The road utilises the same ridge of high ground as Ermine Street but stays closer to its western edge keeping just to the east of the steep scarp slope that runs from Lincoln to North Carlton. It seems to serve the same function as the current B1398, namely to cut the corner off the junction of RR2d and RR28a, cutting about ¾ Roman mile off the journey to Doncaster and York. It is also clear, however, that it also provided access to the multiple high status Roman occupation sites in and around the village of Burton-by-Lincoln, although it is possible that the road existed before the settlement. It seems likely that this road was the same one identified on an estate map of c.1600 (Lincolnshire Archives, MON/17/2) which was still in use in 1772, after enclosure (Lindsey Archaeological Services, 1996, p.6), which might account for it appearing so well on lidar (fig. 2).

This newly discovered route, which we suggest should be numbered RR28aa as it clearly serves the same purpose as RR28a, probably branched from Ermine Street, RR2d, somewhere close to the junction of Newport and Rasen Lane, about 150m north of the Newport Arch (Fig. 1). The first evidence comes from LiDAR with the remains of the agger showing across the allotments south of Yarborough Crescent, with the northern part of the access road to the allotments running along the agger (fig. 2). The agger continues to be visible on lidar across the open ground north of Yarborough Crescent, and then again just to the north west of the running track of Lincoln Castle Academy at Ermine. The line is lost beneath modern housing until it re-emerges and can be seen on lidar south of the A46.

At this point there is a clear branch heading off to the north west towards the village of Burton-by-Lincoln (fig. 2) where considerable evidence of high status Roman settlement has been found over the years, although the sites are not well understood. These include the probable Roman villa site at Burton (SK961747) along with a second possible villa site at SK 963 746. The road also passes close to the possible Roman settlement at Burton Cliffe Farm. Whether the branch is an access road to one or more of these sites, or leads further west, is not known but there is no obvious trace of it on lidar to the west of the escarpment.

Lidar coverage stops just north of this junction. The line can be picked up again a little further north on 2003 imagery from Google Earth. The road shows initially as a faint, but clear parchmark (fig. 3), where the hard remains of the road structure cause the soil above to dry out faster, showing as a paler line. A little further north there are very faint darker lines, this time indicating the probable remains of the flanking ditches.

The course is soon lost again but there is no obvious reason for the route not to stick to a straight course, in which case it should meet RR28a to the south of Scampton, at about SK 9525 7821, just at the point where 28a descends the escarpment. It is clear therefore that the road was planned to head as far west as possible without descending from the higher ground. Lidar coverage resumes here, and shows a feature which could potentially be the remains of a deep road cutting at SK94837830, although there are indications that it was subject to later quarrying. It is certainly worthy of investigation, as the site has not been subject to ploughing and it is likely that some of the road structure will have survived immediately south east of the probable quarrying, potentially providing incontrovertible archaeological confirmation of the road.

Fig. 2 Lidar image overlying Bing aerial photo, showing both RR28aa, and a branch road, north of Lincoln

Click Images to enlarge

Fig. 3. Cropmarks on a Google Earth image from 2001/3 reveal the course of newly discovered Roman road 28aa.

Fig. 1. The Newport Arch, eastern half of the Roman gateway leading out of Lincoln to the north, and the only Roman gate in Britain that is still in use (sort of!). We are grateful to Leslie Taylor for allowing us to use this photo.


Collingwood, R. G. & Wright, R. P. (1965); Roman Inscriptions of Britain - Online version edited by Vanderbilt, Scott (2017), - https://romaninscriptionsofbritain.org  Accessed 17 October 2017

Lindsey Archaeological Services; (1996). Burton, Middle Street and Lincoln, Burton Road Mains Replacement Scheme: Archaeological Monitoring. Report prepared for Anglian Water

Rodwell, W., (1975); Milestones, Civic Territories and the Antonine Itinerary in Britannia, Volume 6, pp. 76-101. Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, London


Richard Watts, Lincolnshire Historic Environment Record

Historic Counties:

Roman Sites on Route:

Historic Environment Records, HE Pastscape and other records

It is worth considering whether or not this “new” road has any impact on our understanding of the Antonine Itinerary and whether or not the itinerary might help us determine whether the road was constructed before or after it was compiled. Both Iter V and Iter VIII give the distance from Segelocum (Littleborough) to Lindum (Lincoln) as 14 miles, as does the late third century milestone found on Bailgate in Lincoln in 1897 at the centre of the Upper Colonia (Collingwood & Wright, 1965, RIB 2241). The question of from where distances were measured is one that has exercised many minds for years, and is discussed briefly on the page concerning the Antonine Itinerary.  Warwick Rodwell pointed out correctly that the Lincoln milestone may well have been a redundant stone brought into the city as building stone from its original location just outside the walls of the Upper Colonia on the edge of a “Town Zone” (Rodwell, 1975 pp. 86-87). Irrespective of whether the milestone was originally located on Bailgate or outside the Colonia, when rounded off to the nearest mile the distances from Lincoln to Littleborough come to 14 Roman miles whichever route was used. The route for the itineraries could have gone either way, so we are unable to determine whether or not the road was constructed before the Itineraries were compiled.

Entry prepared by Mike Haken.  Last updated, 2 June 2017