The Roman Road from Braintree to Chelmsford

Margary Number: 33a

Distance: 11.2 miles

The alignment north of Braintree is continued south as far as Little Waltham where it turns south to keep to the west side of the River Chelmer valley.



Historic Counties: Essex

Current Counties: Essex

HER: Essex



mini map

Lidar Image - Full Route

The alignment would possibly make most sense it it were joining an existing road from Great Dunmow to Chelmsford. However, that road is proving elusive.

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full route

London Road, Braintree

We head out of Briantree down London Road - leaving no doubt as to the ultimate destination of our Roman road although we will follow it just to Chelmsford.

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london rd

Lidar Image and Route Map 1

Virtually straight apart from a little wobble to negotiate the River Brain valley.

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London Road, Great Notley

Just south of Great Notley at Youngs Ends we continue down London Road this time passing the Green Dragon. Plenty of refreshments on this Roman road.

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Lidar Image and Route Map 2

The old road through Great Leights mark the Roman line and probably a slight bend crossing the river at Deres Bridge.

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River Chelmer Bridge, The Street, Little Waltham

The Roman bridge was probably at or perhaps slightly downstream of the modern bridge in Litlle Waltham.


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river chelmer

Lidar Image and Route Map 3

The change of direction at Little Waltham is where you expect the road from Great Dunmow to come in but I so far have not been able to locate it.

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Main Road, Chelmsford

Coming down Main Road towards Chelmsford this is where the modern road swings to the right but the Roman line was straight on - see next iamge.

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main rd

OS First Edition Map - Route into Chelmsford

Rather than follwoing the modern road what I went with was the straight continuation from Broomfield of old field boundaries. Slight issue where the river bend now is but that could be river movement over the centuries. Bends get bigger. I have come across several times where they aim for the tightest spot on a river bend without needing to divert off line. So on balance I went for the usual Roman trait of continuing in a straight line.

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first ed map

First avenue - Footpath on Roman line

At the bottom of First Avenue is this footpath (right) which preserves the probable Roman alignment heading for Chelmsford.

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first avenue

Lidar Image and Route Map 4

The road keeps away from the low land adjacent to the River Chelmer until it get close to Chelmsford. Its course is then marked a footpath at the ends of the First to Seventh Avenues. This is today very close to the river but movements over the centuries probably means it was further away in Roman times.

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Last update: April 2024

© David Ratledge