full title

The Roman Road from Manchester to Doncaster(?)

Margary Number: 715x

Distance: 50 miles (approximately)

In 2020, following the spotting of a length of agger east of Manchester at Matley by my colleague Neil Buckley, we were able to determine, at long last, the route of the Roman road from Manchester to Melandra Castle. However, this may have solved one puzzle but created a new one. The alignment of the road was clearly not on Melandra Castle fort but targeted something much further east through the Longdendale valley. The road could be traced for a short distance into the valley before the LiDAR data ran out.

With the release of a new block of LiDAR data the route can now be extended through the Longdendale valley and well into Yorkshire. The indications are that the Roman fort and town at Doncaster were probably the destination.

Note; This road has now been issued with the number RR715x by the Roman Roads Research Association. The Manchester to Melandra Roman road was previously recorded at RR711 - the latter should now be only used for the Melandra to Brough road (if it exists).

 

 

Historic Counties: Lancashire, Derbyshire & Yorkshire

Current Counties: Greater Manchester, Derbyshire & South Yorkshire

HER: Greater Manchester, Derbyshire & South Yorkshire

 

Full Route Map - Manchester to Doncaster


full map
> >

Lidar Image - Manchester to Longdendale

For comprehensive details of the section of this road from Manchester to Melandra Castle and the Longdendale Valley please follow link. This web page will continue the story from there onwards.

Click for larger view
manchester-melandra

Longdendale Lidar Image & Route Map 1

The alignment of the Roman road from Manchester was around one mile north of Melandra fort and projecting this would suggest a route towards the north side of Hadfield. Link roads would have been needed serving Melandra fort resulting in a triangle of roads. The evidence is reasonably certain away from modern developments but is somewhat speculative across Hadfield.

Thanks are due to Neil Buckley who first suggested the likely route down to cross the River Etherow on the through road.. This a alongside Hollingworth Brook.

Click for larger view

 

longdendale1

Oblique Lidar Image - Entering the Longdendale Valley

The road was first spotted in the lower part of the Longdendale valley by Glossop and Longdendale Archaeological Society. This needed a slight correction here and there plus they aimed the road out of the valley heading north towards Holme but we now know it continued through the valley to Salter's Brook.

 

Click for larger view

 

3d lidar

Longdendale Lidar Image & Route Map 2

 

We are fortunate Lidar reveals the probable point where the road crosses from the south side of the valley to the north. It could easily have been lost under a reservoir.

 

Click for larger view

 

longdendale1

Oblique 3D Lidar Image - Highstones Roman Fortlet

There can be no doubt now about Highstones. Lidar clearly shows it to be a Roman fortlet with two entrances - west and south. It is a well chosen spot with excellent view both up and down the valley.

Click for larger view
highstones

Oblique 3D Lidar Image - Highstones Link Road

The fortlet would have been connected to the main Roman road and the link road up it is faintly visible.

Click for larger view
link road

Longdendale Lidar Image & Route Map 3

Sorting out the Roman line from all the other roads and tracks that used this valley over the centuries is not at all easy. The route shown is the best guess as it appears to be the oldest and it does have several Roman characteristics i.e. a series of straights, a long steady climb and upstream crossing of side streams. It was probably upgraded as a turnpike but upgrading on top of a Roman line was fairly common.

Click for larger view

 

longdendale1

Oblique 3D Lidar Image - Upper Longdendale to Dunford Bridge

It is almost certainly the best route from Longdendale to the upper Don Valley. Roman surveying at its best.

Click for larger view
3D lidar

Longdendale Lidar Image & Route Map 4

The connection from the valley to Windle Edge is faint but of high confidence.

Click for larger view

 

longdendale1

Oblique 3D Lidar Image

At Salter's Brook our road swing more to the north and heads towards Windle Edge. The traces are faint but this is considered the most likely course.

Click for larger view
3D lidar

Lidar Image & Route Map 2

At the beginning of Windle Edge the modern road swing towards the Roman line but keeps below it initially.

Image: David Ratledge.

Click for larger view
windle-edge

Route Map 3

Basically two alignments. The first along along WIndle Edge and the second across the north side of the Upper Don Valley.

Click for larger view
map3

Oblique 3D Lidar Image - Champion Carr

The arrow is point back towards Longdendale along the prominent Roman agger. Note the cutting or terrace (right of the agger) which had to be cut into the side sloping ground here.

Image: David Ratledge.

Click for larger view
agger

Oblique 3D Lidar Image - Windle Edge and Dunford Bridge

Half way along Windle Edge the Roman route switches sides of the modern road. By doing so follows more towards the crest of the ridge - a typical Roman trait.

Click for larger view

 

3D lidar

View from Brook Hill Lane

Looking back, this time from Brook Hill Lane. The Roman road is down towards the river and not obvious at all but the ascent it has to make up to Windle Edge is visible in the distance.

Image: David Ratledge

 

Click for larger view
don valley

Oblique 3D Lidar Image - Sledbrook Bridge

This was the breakthrough LiDAR image that revealed the road in the Upper Don Valley.

Click for larger view
lidar

Oblique 3D Lidar Image - Sledbrook Bridge to Dunford Bridge

The equivalent 3D view of the image above looking back towards Dunford Bridge.

Click for larger view
3D lidar

Lee Lane, Sledbrook Bridge

A very obvious terrace climbing up diagonally from Sledbrook Dike. It would fit the Roman alignment but if Roman then why was it not spotted before?

Image: David Ratledge.

Click for larger view
lee lane

Oblique 3D Lidar Image - Flash House Farm to Royd Moor

Small Shaw Bank and Royd Moor Hill were obstacles for the Roman surveyor to negotiate. For small Shaw Bank and natural valley was exploited. For Royd Moor Hill a typical zig-zag ascent was employed.

Click for larger view
flash house

Crossing Whitley Road

We are between Small Shaw Bank and Royd Moor Hill here and the road can be seen ascending the latter in a typical zig-zag indicated by a greener shade of grass.

Image: Google

Click for larger view
whitley road

Oblique 3D Lidar Image - Royd Moor to Hoylandswaine

We are looking back (west) towards Royd Moor. The clues are faint but because they all line up we can be certain of the road's course here.

Click for larger view
royd moor

Oblique 3D Lidar Image - Hoylandswaine looking East

This the last trace before the lidar currently runs out at Hoylandswaine.

Click for larger view
3d lidat

Route Map 4

A fairly direct route all the way to Hoylandswaine where the Lidar and the clues currently end. Following it across Hoylandswaine will have to await new Lidar coverage.

Logically the route is most likely to have headed via Barnsley with Doncaster Roman town and fort its probable destination.

Click for larger view
map4

Route Map 5 - Possible connection to Doncaster

Beyond Hoylandswaine then there is a huge gap across Barnsley but surely Doncaster was the destination.

Click for larger view
map5

Lidar Image - Possible Route into Doncaster

This is the suggested route into Doncaster supported by two possible agger like features (see below).

Click for larger view
thurnscoe-doncaster

Oblique 3D Lidar Image - Thurnscoe

This is the evidence for those two agger like traces either side of Thurnscoe.

Also visible is another possible road marked with ?. This was independently spotted by my colleague Neil Buckley. More investigation on this one required.

Click for larger view
3D lidar
     

Back to Travelling with the Romans homepage

Last update: October 2021

© David Ratledge