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Margary Number:

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2 Miles known


York (Eboracum)

North Riding of Yorkshire

Fig.1 Detailed map of RR801 leaving the north west gate of the fortress, and its relationship to other known and possible roads

Click Image to enlarge

RRRA Forum for RR801


Archaeological Services WYAS (1993); Unpublished Report: Shipton by Beningbrough Bypass Archaeological investigations Vols. 1 & 2

Brinklow, David (1986); Main Roads Serving Roman York in Brinklow, D, Hall, R. A., Magilton, J. R., Donaghey, Sara ; Coney Street, Aldwark and Clementhorpe, Minor Sites, and Roman Roads; CBA, York

Cade, John (1785); Conjectures concerning some undescribed Roman Roads, and other Antiquities in the County of Durham in Archaeologia: or Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity, Vol.7, 1785, pp.74-81 Society of Antiquaries of London. Available online at https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ul8VAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false accessed 14/12/2017

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.

Jackson, Derek (2018); Pers. Comms.

Lukis, W. C. (Ed.) (1887) The family memoirs of the rev William Stukeley and the Antiquarian and other correspondence vol 3 The Publications of the Surtees Society, vol. 80 for 1885; Andrews & Co., Durham & London; Whittaker & Co, Edinburgh. Available online at https://archive.org/stream/familymemoirsofr03stuk#page/n7/mode/2up accessed 30/11/17

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

Ottaway, Patrick (2013); Roman Yorkshire: People Culture and Landscape; Blackthorn Press, Pickering

RCHME (1962); Roman York: Approach Roads, in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in City of York, Volume 1, Eburacum, Roman York ;London, pp. 1-4. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/york/vol1/pp1-4 [accessed 17 November 2017].

RR801 leaves York at the north west gate of the fortress, and is represented by the line of modern Bootham and Clifton, at least as far as Clifton Green. Whilst its existence has been known since the early 20th century, the laying a gas pipeline along Clifton in the summer of 1979 allowed it to be observed at several points and its course from the fortress determined. Prior to that, it had been seen on Clifton Green, in a trench near the fountain (RCHME, 1962, p.3), outside the White House, Clifton (SE 59685262) and in a trench outside Bootham Hospital (SE 59885246) (Brinklow, 1986, p.97). At Bootham Hospital, two road surfaces were revealed, the lower definitely Roman 2m below the modern pavement, and the higher one 0.84m above it, probably a later Roman phase (ibid.). The depth of the surfaces revealed during the laying of the pipeline was consistent with the upper surface at Bootham Hospital. The various observations of this road do not form a single straight alignment but can be all accomodated with a single change of alignment between St’ Peter’s Grove and the end of Burton Stone Lane, a change mirrored by the modern line of Clifton (A19).

Remains of a road built of cobbles set on a bed of clay were found in 1966 at the north end of St. Giles Road in Skelton and could potentially be part of RR801 (Jackson 2018, N. Yorks HER Mon. No. 37302). Slightly further north, a resistivity survey conducted in in 1993 identified an area of high resitance, which could also potentially be remains of this Roman road (Archaeological Services WYAS 1993). These finds are not concusive evidence, however, and certainly not sufficient to support the claim of The Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England (RCHME 1962) that RR801 was heading towards Catterick, a claim repeated by later writers (Ottaway, 2013, p.130). It is certainly possible that it is part of the Roman road claimed by John Warburton in a letter written to Roger Gale in 1717 to “show itself very plainly in the village of Romanby”, near Northallerton (Lukis, 1887, p.80), a claim which has never been substantiated.  However, it is just as likely to be a direct road to the Civitas capital at Aldborough (Isurium Brigantum), or part of the road proposed by Cade heading north to Newcastle (Cade, 1785, p.76) which has now been located east of Thirsk (see RR80a); we simply do not known for sure.

Historic Counties:

Roman Sites on Route:

Historic Environment Records, HE Pastscape and other records

Margary's Roman Roads in Britain, road 801

A second road, numbered road 5. by the RCHME (RCHME 1962), appears to run parallel to it some 225m to the south west, based upon three discoveries of probable Roman road. These were at Greencliffe Drive (SE 59215279), where the road was found to be 24ft (7m) wide, at Water End in 1893 and somewhere close to St. Peter’s School swimming baths in 1954 (SE 59455256 approx.). Such a road would pass in front of the fortress to it’s south west gate and meet RR28c from Tadcaster near the modern junction of Lendal and Coney Street.  The RCHME account (ibid.) also suggests that the road is represented by old parish boundaries marked on the 1854 6” OS map between the grounds of Clifton Croft and the back gardens of houses along Westminster Street, and by another parish boundary between Homestead Gardens and Water End but, given that the boundaries run along the edges of some of Clifton’s medieval burgage plots, it would be dangerous to read anything into this.

There have been various discoveries of bits of road and road material between the two roads, but they do not all align. The RCHME used two of them to suggest a road joining them, running across the northern part of the St. Peter’s School site to join Bootham near the end of St.Olave’s Grove, but the evidence is extremely thin. Other possible bits of road, such as that found adjacent to the school’s new Science Lab in 1982 (Brinklow, 1986, p.99), could indicate a road which didn’t join RR801 at all, but rather headed through what is now King’s Manor, home of the University of York’s Department of Archaeology, to meet a postulated road running outside the fortress wall. Alternatively, they could all just be streets giving access to development between the two roads, something which is arguably much more likely.

It has been assumed since the first RCHME publication that the two roads (7 & 5) met somewhere much further north west, possibly along what is now Shipton Road, close to the modern by-pass. Such a layout, if correct, could be interpreted as suggesting an enforced splitting of traffic, the road to the fort taking military and official traffic only with everyone else having to take the southern route which aimed for the settlement and the Colonia across the river.

Whatever the position with the two roads and potential link road, further fieldwork, possibly entailing geophysical survey, is clearly needed to determine the route of either or both roads to the north west.

North Yorkshire HER MNY37302

Entry Compiled by Mike Haken, last updated, 16 December 2017