|Via:||Godmanchester, Ancaster, Lincoln, Brough on Humber|
|Distance:||188.5 miles (303.4 km)|
|Now part of:||A10, A1010, A1198, B1044, B1043, A1(M), A1, B1081, B6403, A52, B1131, B1138, A15, B1207, A1077, A1034, A1079|
Ermine Street is a Roman road that runs between London (Londinium) and York (Eboracum). It was described in five sections by Ivan D Margary in his book 'Roman Roads in Britain', where it is numbered 2.
Note. As the road is largely followed by the modern A10, A1198, A1 and A15 these section are not covered in detail here. Detail is reserved to the 'off road' lengths, junctions with other Roman roads, and Roman settlements.
2a: London to Braughing 26½ miles
The Roman road left the City of London through the medieval Bishopsgate by the A10, Shoreditch, Stoke Newington Road, Stamford Hill, and Tottenham (as the A1010) to Upper Edmonton. From here it runs along the east side of Pymmes Park, is joined again by the A10 for half a mile and then through the last of the suburbs to Bulls Cross. It passes through the village directly to go over the M25 (the modern road a kink here), through Churchgate, Flamstead End and into the countryside just west of Cheshunt Park(TL342041). The road continues through fields and woodland past Box Wood to be met briefly by the B1197 at Hertford Heath. It is then obscured by the A10/A414 GSJ at Rush Green before approaching the river Lee (or Lea) at grid reference TL351142. There was minor Roman settlement on the other side of the river at Ware in the area of Priory Street.
From here the road continued north to be picked up by the A1170 back to the A10. After the GSJ with the A10, the Roman road is followed by the unclassified road (the old a road) through High Cross and Colliers End to be met from the west by the Roman road (RM21a) from St Albans (Verulamium). Ermine Street is met a little further by the A!0 and A120 (roundabout) before descending through Puckeridge to the west bank of the river Rib. Here was the Roman settlement at Ford Bridge, Braughing. Here the road was met on the other side of the river by the Colchester Road (RM32) and another to Worsted Lodge (RM21b). Also from the west came a road from Baldock (RM22).
2b: Braughing to Chesterton (Durobrivae) 49½ miles
Ermine Street left the settlement at Ford Bridge and headed to near Coles Park where it is met by the A10 again. It passes through Buntingford as an unclassified street (while the A10 takes the bypass), crossed by the B1038 by the church and strikes a new alignment, for Royston, at Corney Bury (TL354309). A little further on it's joined by the A10 again where it makes a small alignment adjustment to fix on Royston, where passing though the town it emerges as the A1198 to Huntingdon.
A direct line is taken by the road to Caxton Gibbet near Cambourne. It passes though the Roman settlement at Wimpole Lodge (here a road to Cambridge forked right - RM23a) before taking us to Godmanchester. here the road was joined by two others: from Braughing (RM22) and Colchester (RM24). The defended Roman town at Godmanchester, Durovigutum stood at an important point guarding the Fenlands and the river Ouse.
Upon leaving the town, the road crosses the river and passes directly through Huntingdon to Stukeley on minor streets and lanes to Alconbury where it becomes the B1043, alongside the A1(M), to Norman Cross. Here is is subsumed under the A1(M) and on to a short distance to Chesterton. A little further in the fields to the right of the modern road is the Roman fortified garrison town at Water Newton (Durobrivae). Here is a happy image of how it may have looked then.
Four other Roman roads met at Durobrivae. Clockwise from north they are: the RM26 from Ancaster, the RM25 from March, the RM570 from Irchester, and the RM571 from Apethorpe (Ironstone works). Ermine Street leads the settlement on a north west alignment.
2c: Chesterton to Lincoln 51½ miles
Ermine Street crosses the river Nene (and in turn crossed by the Nene Valley Railway) and aligned onto a point south west of Barnack (TF066044). This length is today seen as a collection of minor roads, fields and the Hereward Way. From here a new alignment takes us to the west of Burghley Park and, on a further alignment, across the river Welland in Stamford to be picked up by the B1081 (the former A1) into the Roman town at Great Casterton.
The B road joins the A1 a little to the north of the village and from here the Roman road is subsumed below the modern truck road to the roundabout junction with the A151 and B676 east of Colsterworth. Ermine Street continues through fields and is joined (at SK936271) by the B6403 as High Dyke past Barkston Heath World War II bomber aerodrome to Ancaster. As the road passes by Grantham, it is crossed by the Roman road from Six Hills on Fosse Way to Donington (RM58) somewhere near Cold Harbour. South of Ancaster, Ermine Street is met by King Street, the Roman road from Ailsworth (RM26). The small town of Ancaster is situated squarely on its Roman predecessor.
Ermine Street leaves Ancaster heading north on a new alignment below the B6403 to cross the A17 west of RAF College Cranwell. From here it continues as an unmetalled lane passing to the east of Naveby to cross the B1178, before disappearing below Waddington Airfield. The road can been seen as part of the RAF estate before being joined by the A607 for a short distance. At his point it makes its way down the river Witham valley side before meeting the Fosse Way at Bracebridge. Together the two roads as one continue into the city of Lincoln. The city owes its origins to the Roman founding of Lindum. The Roman Colonia was built high on a hill overlooking the natural lake formed by the widening of the River Witham (the modern day Brayford Pool), replacing the fortress of the conquest.
2d: Lincoln to Winterton (The Humber) 32 miles
Ermine Street left the Roman city by Bailgate. It passes Bishop Grosseteste University to cross the B1273. From there it's followed by the B1226 and meets the A6 at Grande Lodge. Now it is the A15 aligned close to north heading for the Humber. It is lost below Scampton airfield before resuming as the A15, passing the small Roman settlement at Owmby.
The Roman road is crossed further along by the A631 at Caenby Corner, and by a number of 'B' and classified roads until reaching the Roman settlement at Hibaldstow (SE959031). The road continues to near Scawby where it is crossed by the M180 and then the A18. Beyond the roundabout here it is represented by an unclassified road to Broughton where it's joined by the B1207 to a mile north of Appleby. Here the 'B' road turns off north west while the Roman ancestor continues as an unclassified road to the A1077. It turns here slightly to the east and, along the 'A' road, to Winteringham Roman settlement on the river Humber's south bank.
2e: Brough on Humber to York 29 miles
After crossing the Humber (by ferry, not bridge!), Ermine Street entered Brough the Roman fort and settlement of Petuaria. The road left the town on a fresh alignment to the Roman settlement (SE909352) just south of South Newbold, via an unclassified road to the A63 GSJ and then the A1034. At South Newbald the Roman road to Malton (RM29) branched off right, while Ermine street started a new alignment to near Shiptonthorpe. This part is 'lost' through fields and woodland to be joined by the A1079 at Manor Farm near Thorpe le Street. It is followed by the 'A' road past Pockington airfield to Barmby Moor.
Ivan D Margary, in his book Roman Roads in Britain, describes Ermine Street following a course into York approximately followed by the present A1079 road via Kexby Bridge. The current Ordnance Survey Roman Britain map omits this section in favour of an alignment to Stanford Bridge (Rm80a). If the OS is correct, and no doubt it is, this would suggest that Ermine Street didn't terminate at York but continued north to Durham and South Shields. For this description we take a route to the river Derwent and then turn left for York.
At Barmby Moor the Roman road (now RM80a) swings away north through the fields and east of Wilberfoss to pass Full Sutton airfield (and HM Prison) to wards Stamford Bridge. A Roman short cut then takes us from near High Catton Grange over the Derwent at Low Catton, and then south west to Dunnington. From here the road is followed by an unclassified road to the A64/A166/A1079/B1228 GSJ at Grimston. It is then followed by the A1079 into York and the Roman City of Eboracum.
If, as suggested above, the main Roman road from the Humber at Brough originally bypassed York, could it be that the Roman route 'II' terminated at South Shields? Or even ran only to the Lease Rigg Flavian period (AD 70-96) fort near Grosmont (and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway)? All we can say is that the Saxon naming takes our route to York, the traditional way - of course.