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In fact, Drake placed Londesborough on the crossroads of a road from Brough to Malton, with a fictional one from Spurn Point to Stamford Bridge and York, so he could manipulate the information to place the Earl’s seat into becoming the Delgovicia of the 1st Iter of the Antonine Itinerary. This begs the question; “was the causeway found by the Earl’s gardener actually a Roman road at all?”. Certainly, the discovery of a Roman road running through the Earl’s estate cannot have hurt Drake’s cause one bit, giving the Earl a vicarious relationship with the Roman civilisation he admired so greatly (Sweet, 2003, p.17). It is perhaps also worth noting that geophysical survey conducted by James Lyall in an attempt to locate the road, failed to find any evidence of it (Lyall, 2017). Maule Cole, writing over a century ago said about this road “The first Ordnance map marks this line "Supposed Roman Road," but it is doubtful if the second will” (Maule Cole, 1891, p. 208). He would be horrified to see it Ordnance Survey maps still marking it with certainty.

Where does all this leave RR29? Given the lack of evidence, it is tempting to dismiss this road altogether but, on the other hand, a direct road from Brough to Malton does make a great deal of sense. Further fieldwork, including geophysical survey and excavation, of the bank north of Goodmanham Road, the supposed road in Londesborough Park, and the locations of the supposed cropmarks further north, might resolve this finally one way or the other.

Codrington, Thomas (1903); Roman Roads in Britain, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London

Creighton, J. (Ed.) (1999); Excavations at Hawling Road in Halkon, P. & Millett, M. (Eds.) (1999) Rural Settlement and Industry: Studies in the Iron Age and Roman Archaeology in Lowland East Yorkshire, pp. 168 - 220; Yorkshire Archaeological Society & East Riding Archaeological Society, Leeds

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-August 1994)

Kitson-Clark, Mary (1935); Roman Roads in East Yorkshire in Roman Malton & District Report No. 5

Lyall, James (2017); Pers. Comms

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

Sweet, Rosemary (2003); History and Identity in Eighteenth-Century York: Francis Drake’s Eboracum (1736); in Hallett, M. & Rendall, J., Eighteenth-Century York: Culture, Space and Society; Borthwick Institute of Historical Research, York

Fig. 1 Map from Eboracum, by Francis Drake, 1734

Click Images to enlarge

Fig. 2 Lidar showing possible remains of agger west of Goodmanham, SE88234282, although it could be no more than a boundary bank. The Market Weighton / Goodmanham parish boundary runs along the supposed line of the road.

RRRA Forum for RR29


Fig. 3 1855 Ordnance Survey map showing the very sinuous supposed course of the Roman road near Leavening

Malton, North Riding


East Riding of Yorkshire, North Riding of Yorkshire

It is remarked that the road from Brough to Londesburgh park pail, is in a continued streight line; that it was formerly, and still is by some elderly people called Humber-Street; that the stratum of the road may be traced, under hedges etc. cross one of the canals in the park, which being lately made, occasioned the accident of finding it. It is composed of materials very scarce in that country and lies buried under a fine soil about fifteen inches; and it was with great difficulty that the workmen could dig through the agger. The curiosity of finding such a road in such an uncommon place, led my correspondent [ie Knowlton] to trace it on both sides of the canals up the hills; and he can now, he says, shew it at any time, with spades, one way pointing to the aforesaid Humber-Street;…….

Francis Drake, Eboracum, 1736

At South Newbald (approx. SE9109 3499), where the road from Brough on Humber to York (RR2e) leaves its initial alignment marked by the modern A1034 to take a more north westerly course, another Roman road (RR29) has long been thought to continue northwards along the original alignment to the Roman fort at Malton. This alignment, if projected north, would pass a mere 600m west of the fort at Malton, giving the impression that there may be some relationship between the original alignment of RR2e, Malton and RR29. Unfortunately, RR29 does not actually coincide with the alignment at any point along its proposed course, so this tempting notion does not actually have any substance.

From South Newbald, it is usually assumed that the Roman road to Malton is represented approximately by the modern road in three shortish straight lengths as far as SE902388 just south of Sancton, and then along a single straight alignment for the next three miles, being followed again by the modern road from Sancton Grange. Where the A1034 turns more westerly at SE 9543 4049, near Mask Hall,  the accepted line of RR29 carries straight on across the fields before joining the trackway known as Humber Street, which is usually assumed to follow it. Projecting the Roman line across the fields northwards, it diverges slightly to the west of Humber Street as it is today, until they merge again at the junction with Goodmanham Road. As referred to previously, none of these short straight lines on the map coincide with the alignment underlying the planning of the southern part of RR2e from Brough. Humber Street, on the supposed Roman line, was excavated prior to the construction of Market Weighton by-pass in 1989, though “this revealed little” (Creighton, 1999, p.168). The supposed alignment continues north of Goodmanham Road, marked by former field boundaries and the Goodmanham / Market Weighton parish boundary, along which the remains of a large bank are visible on lidar from SE 8829 4269 to the point where lidar coverage stops at about SE 8820 4285. The bank may be the remains of the agger (fig. 2), or simply a boundary feature. Before the line reaches the modern A614, it apparently turns slightly more northwards and crosses Londesborough Park to the east of Londesborough.

The line of the road northwards is well marked on Ordnance survey maps, albeit with some gaps. From Londesborough, it is marked heading just west of north across Londesborough Field, turning slightly more westerly across to Nunburnholme Wold where it bends northwards again to avoid a seep valley. There is a slight soilmark visible here marking the line on Bing aerial photography as it starts to descend the slope obliquely to reach Warter. Here it turns again, and the arrow straight modern road follows its course north west for a mile, and when the modern road bears northwards, the Roman line supposedly continues straight on to Millington Dale, crossing the dale some distance up from the heart of the Roman temple complex at Millington. A short length of supposed Roman road is recorded at Millington. Indeed, Mary Kitson Clark regarded it as part of this road (Kitson Clark, 1935, p.38), although it is actually 500m west of the supposed line of RR29. Geophysical survey conducted by James Lyall as part of a study of the Millington complex failed to find any trace of either road (Lyall, 2017).

From Millington Dale, the line turns more northerly and keeps fairly straight for two and a half miles, at first marked by a footpath, and then after a short gap by the modern road known as The Bence, which it follows as far as the point where the Stamford Bridge to Bridlington road, RR810, crosses it, just south of Garrowby Street. The alignment changes here yet again, to almost due north for a mile and a half, where the modern road approximates to it, both bearing northwest at the top of Uncleby Hill to head towards Leavening. Just to the south west of the modern road, at around SE81356038, parallel cropmarks have been noted on an aerial photograph (see N. Yorks HER no.  7012). The Ordnance survey of 1855 (fig. 3) showed the supposed Roman line as being marked by the modern road to the east of Leavening, however the North Yorkshire HER suggests a different route (with little real evidence), heading straight for over two miles across the fields above Thrussen Dale and then along the very eastern end of York road in Leavening before turning north being followed by the general course of Malton Road.  Where Malton Road does a kink to the east after half a mile, a cropmark has been seen on old aerial photos suggesting that the Roman line went straight on (N. Yorks HER no. 2150). The road is then assumed to keep straight, followed approximately by Malton road for most of the way, and joins the Stamford Bridge to Malton road (RR81a) at about SE 7888 6878.

The first impression you might get is that this road sounds very Roman, with lots of straight lengths picking its way through the Wolds, just as you might expect. The problem comes when you consider that the “evidence” comes from two poor quality RAF black and white aerial photos which only show very short features, a length of supposed road that wasn’t found by geophysics and isn’t on the right line in any case, a short length of bank showing on lidar that runs along a parish boundary, and a length of old road called Humber Street that just happens to be aiming straight for Londesborough. Put it that way and it doesn’t sound good at all, just a case of joining a few dots by way of modern roads and villages. So where did the idea come from?

The first mention of a Roman road between Malton and Brough appears to have come from the antiquarian Francis Drake (Drake 1736, p32),  who reported on the discovery of a causeway in Londesborough Park. The discovery was actually made by a Mr. Knowlton, head gardener to Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington and 4th Earl of Cork, who was one of Drake’s subscribers. Drake refers to him as his patron (Drake, 1736, p.32). Drake wrote in his work, Eboracum:

Entry compiled by Mike HakenLast updated, 2 January 2018

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25 Miles


Margary's Roman Roads in Britain, road 29