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7.5 Miles


None known

West Riding of Yorkshire

A road is supposed to have branched of RR720a above Ripponden, in West Yorkshire, and headed east to link to RR712. The road is described briefly by both Margary (Margary 1973, p.404) and Codrington (Codrington 1903, p. 99), although it is no longer on the Ordnance Survey’s Map of Roman Britain.

The road was first suggested as part of a road from Manchester over Blackstone Edge and then via Greetland and Elland to York, by Thomas Reynolds (Reynolds 1799, p.71), but he gave no evidence or any detail. The only other description  of this road seem to be from Francis A Leyland, a Halifax antiquarian, who makes no mention of Reynolds. In a paper he delivered to the Geological and Polytechnic Society of the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1861, he gives a full account of the route of this road, which he describes by listing place names, starting from Rastrick and then Elland, Lower Edge, Brow Bridge Lindwell in Greetland, Wall Nook (now Greetland Wall Nook), Abbot Royd, Bank Cross, Ripponden Bank, Old Bank, Ripponden parsonage, Ripponden Old Lane, Swift Cross Spa, and then meeting the Manchester to Ilkley road at Whitegate Head. (Leyland, 1861, pp. 193-4). The route simply follows the  roads then is use from Rastrick to Whitegate Head, the only exception being the old road climbing from Ripponden, Ripponden Old Bank. Margary refers to the section between Greetland Wall Nook and Bank Cross as “a long straight terrace road high up on the hillside” (Margary 1973, p.404), neglecting to mention that it was formerly a turnpike, the Blackstone Edge Trust, thus accounting for its straightness. It certainly is a very old route however, as evidenced by the braiding across the hillside at the western end (braiding is a phenomenon caused by foot traffic across un-metalled routes, creating multiple trackways as successive courses become unusable), and Leyland does admit that “although no existing indicia afford sufficient evidence of Roman construction, it is not the less entitled to great antiquity” (Leyland, 1861. P.194). So what was it that made Leyland think that there was a Roman road here?

It appears to all come down to the “Roman town” (ibid. p.183) supposedly found at Lindwell, Greetland, in the 16th century. In fact, all that was found was a Roman altar (RIB627), now in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, although a contemporary account by John Hanson, working for the Manor of Wakefield mentions further “diverse” finds nearby but does not elaborate (Roberts, 2010). Not one single shred of evidence for a Roman site has ever been found, and it seems most likely that the altar either came from the nearby fort at Slack, or that there was a shrine or temple somewhere near here. Leyland actually admits in his preamble that if there was a town, there must have been a road linking it to both the roads from Manchester to Ilkley, and Manchester to York, so he determined to find one; or more accurately create one.

The road he describes shows no sign of Roman surveying, by his own admission does not show evidence of Roman construction, and the site that he based his ideas on probably never existed. Furthermore, in the century and a half since he made the claim, no indication of anything resembling Roman construction has been noted, or even claimed, at any point along its length.  Needless to say, this road has been disregarded.

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

Horsley, J. (1732);  Britannia Romana: or the Roman Antiquities of Britain London; available online at https://archive.org/details/britanniaromanao00hors ; Accessed 23 October 2017

Leyland, F. A.  (1861); Some Account of the Roman Roads in the Parish of Halifax; with respective claims of Almondbury, Slack, and Greetland to the site of Cambodunum; in Proceedings of the Geological and Polytechnic Society of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Volume IV 1868; pp. 182-205

Margary, Ivan D. (1973); Roman Roads in Britain, John Baker, London

Reynolds, T. (1799); Iter Britanniarum, or that part of the Itinerary of Antoninus Which Relates to Britain, with a New Comment; Cambridge

Roberts, Kai (2010); Ghosts and Legends of the Lower Calder Valley available online at https://lowercalderlegends.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/the-greetland-altar/  Accessed 23/10/2017

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Margary's Roman Roads in Britain, road 720aa

Entry Prepared by Mike Haken, last updated, 2 June 2017