The Roman Road from Hobbs Cross to Harlow

Margary Number: none

Distance: 8.5 miles

With the known important Roman site at Harlow this was was an often suggested road. In addition, the roads named Foster Street and Latton Street were very suggestive of just such a road although it would appear they do not represent Roman roads. However, thanks to Lidar we do now have the route - well at least as far as Harlow, where suburbia hides the line.





Historic Counties: Essex

Current Counties: Essex

HER: Essex



mini map

Lidar Image - Full Route

The route is based on 2 (possibly 3) main alignments with the major turn (and setting out point) on the high ground just north of Thornwood Common. The route across Harlow is somewhat subjective as the new town has taken its toll.

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full route

Oblique 3D Lidar Image - Hobbs Cross

After Hobbs Cross Road there are a few minor dog-legs to negotiate a couple of valleys but then the straight alignment to Thornwood begins.

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Hobbs Cross Road, Hobbs Cross

This is the spot where the road to Harlow Temple branches off the Great Dunmow to London Roam Road. The latter crosses right to left and our route is marked initially by the modern road straight ahead (Hobbs Cross Road).

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Lidar Image and Route Map 1

Enough clues to confirm the route although surprising in Epping Forest, where you would expect the agger to have survived well, there is virtually no trace.

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Oblique 3D Lidar Image - Epping Forest to Thornwood Common

Beyond Epping Forest there is a continuing string of clues marking the Roman alignment.

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Upland Road, Thornwood Common

We are looking south back to Hobbs Cross and the modern ditch to the left of the footpath is most likely derived from the eastern ditch of the Roman road.

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Oblique 3D Lidar Image - Latton Common

Again continuing clues all the way into Harlow.

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latton common

Latton Common

The route across Latton Common is clear in Lidar but not so obvious on the ground.

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latton common

Lidar Image and Route Map 2

The line into Harlow is secure but its route onwards becomes uncertain due modern development.

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OS Map c.1900 - Harlow

Across Harlow then it is very subjective. The old road through "Old" Harlow looks tempting but is a bit too far east so I have gone for a more direct route along old field boundaries. It reality either of neither could be correct.

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Harlow Roman Temple

The Roman temple is located on top of a small hillock alongside the River Stort. The site appears to have been part of a large settlement both industrial and high status.

Historic England Record: Grid Ref : TL4720012500

HE Summary : "Excavations uncovered the site of a late Iron Age settlement and Roman town; building remains including mosaics and hypocausts were found. Industrial activity included a bronze working site and a pottery kiln. Many votive objects were found, possibly associated with the nearby temple (TL 41 SE 6), though this site has been also been interpreted as a Roman temple complex with Iron Age origins"

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Lidar Image and Route Map 3

The suggested route shown is just that - suggested. The Roman road could have headed further eat towards for Station Road through Old Harlow. It will need a local find to determine which if either is correct.

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Last update: June 2022

© David Ratledge