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Margary Number:

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3.6 miles probable, possible total distance up to 14 Miles


HE Pastscape Mon. 58090


Hemingbrough RB Settlement - Pastscape

City of York, East Riding of Yorkshire

This possible road is listed by the Royal Commission in their inventory of Roman Monuments in York (RCHME, 1962, p.1) as Road no. 1 in their assessment of the approach roads to York. At the time the inventory was compiled, the ‘road’ was known only as a straight length of parish boundary running for just under two and a half miles NNW - SSE from Germany Beck (SE 6218 4939) to Pool Bridge (SE 6418 4618) separating Fulford and Naburn parishes on the west from St Lawrence (detached), Heslington and Langwith on the east. It is represented by field boundaries all the way and south of the A64 a public footpath also runs along it. In point of fact it is not actually straight, rather it is two straight lengths with a slight change in direction at the top of a short but steep bank at SE 6334 4773. The northern half is aligned on the south east gate of York legionary fortress, which is highly suggestive of the presence of a former road. In 1965, road metalling was observed at Germany Beck (Wilson, 1966, p.200) which supported the notion of a road and yet, whilst Margary makes a brief mention of it at the end of his account of RR800, he did not allocate a number and therefore presumably had his reservations.

In 1973, excavations between Lead Mill Lane and York city walls (SE 6076 5132) revealed an extensive area of cobbling close to the projected alignment (Brinklow, 1986, pp. 78 & 87), and other unstratified cobbling was found in the vicinity at the junctions of George Street and Hope Street and George Street and Long Close Lane (ibid, p.87). Whether any of these probable Roman surfaces are part of RR803(x) is not known.

Fig. 1 Lidar image showing the course of the putative Roman road RR803(x), which probably heads to a site further south on the R. Ouse. The linear feature on Fulford Golf Course which has not yet been investigated is probably an early 20th century red herring!

Click Image to enlarge


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

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

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

Pastscape Mon. 58036 (2017) http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=58036  accessed 20/11/2017

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].

Ramm, H. G. (Ed.) (1963); The Yorkshire Archaeological Register 1962; Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, Part 161, Vol 41, pp. 1-26; YAS, Leeds

Wilson, D. R. (1966); Roman Britain in 1965 , Journal of Roman Studies, Vol56 pp. 196-225; Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, London

Wilson, P. R. (2014); Roman Britain in 2013 , Britannia, Vol. 45 pp. 317-343; Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, London

Historic Counties:

Roman Sites on Route:

Historic Environment Records, HE Pastscape and other records

Lidar coverage southwards stops before Pool Bridge, and Lidar indicates only one possible stretch of surviving agger along the supposed ‘road’,  just south of Germany Beck (fig. 1). To the north of Germany Beck, lidar shows clearly a raised embankment heading northwards across the Fulford Golf Course, although in a different alignment. The feature is not shown on the 1854 OS map, although is marked on the 1910 edition and is probably an early 20th century access road, although an extremely well built one.

To the south, if this is the course of a Roman road, as seems possible, the destination is far from obvious. If the alignment is projected southwards, it meets another short length of parish boundary which notably does not at first follow current or former field boundaries, and it then matches the western edge of Gilbertson’s Wood, between Escrick and Wheldrake, still on the same alignment, but this is mere speculation. That the route turned south at some point seems likely, keeping to the slightly higher ground west bisecting the rivers Ouse and Derwent. The two most likely destinations of the putative road are the Roman period settlement known to have existed near Hemingbrough, now largely destroyed (Ramm, 1963, p.7 & Pastscape Mon. 58036), and the recently discovered Roman settlement further west on the R. Ouse at Barlby (Wilson, 2014, p 332), where a high proportion of Samian and amphorae from the pottery assemblage indicates military involvement.

In summary, the alignment of part of this putative road on the SE gate of then Fortress, taken with the fact that the known change of alignment takes place on top of a steep bank, a typical Roman characteristic, are indicative of a possible Roman road. The physical evidence in the form of metalling observed at Germany Beck and the circumstantial evidence of a parish boundary and a right of way along its course, add a little more weight. On balance, it seems slightly more likely than not that the evidence represents the northern part of a road heading south to a site on the R. Ouse.

Entry Compiled by Mike Haken, last updated, 2 February 2017