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Ryknild Street

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Ryknild Street
Location Map ( geo)
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From:  Bourton on the Water
To:  Templeborough
Via:  Wall (Letocetum)
Distance:  112 miles (180.2 km)
Traditional Counties

Derbyshire • Gloucestershire • Staffordshire • Warwickshire • Worcestershire • Yorkshire

Ryknild Street (RM18, also Icknield Street) was named by the Anglo-Saxon to refer to the Roman road between the Fosse Way (now A429) at Bourton on the Water in Gloucestershire and Templeborough on the River Don near Rotherham in Yorkshire.

The road was described by Ivan Margary in his book 'Roman Roads in Britain' (3rd edition 1973). Numbered Road 18, it was divided into five (or six) sections. Its length is 112½ miles.

18a: Bourton on the Water to Alcester 22½ miles

Travelling north along the A429 from Cirencenter - the Fosse Way - finds the driver effectively 'bypassing' Bourton on the Water. The town developed half a mile to the east of the Roman road as was the Anglo Saxon custom. A little further on the road crosses the river Eye where Ryknild Street begins by forking off to the left at Slaughter Pike (SP170222). Here it starts its long trek to Yorkshire.

From Slaughter Pike the Roman road followed a direct alignment up the valley side to a point on the Upper Slaughter to Lower Swell minor road (SP162240) where is is picked up by a lane heading north east. A little further on the lane crosses the B4086 and continues for a further 1½ miles before crossing the B4077 and into Condicote. After a slight wiggle through the hamlet another lane takes up the alignment to pass by Hinchwick Manor Farm to a T junction by The Warren (SP145301). Here the road sets off up the fields along the dry valley to pass under Bourton Far Hill Farm (SP134352) on another alignment, via Spring Hill, to the A44 (SP120367) in the lee of Broadway Hill.

The road next negotiates its way down the ridge to the B4362 at Weston-sub-Edge. From here Ryknild Street is represented by a long unclassified to the B4085 to the south of the River Avon at Bidford. The river would have been bridged (or forded) near to the present structure before heading on a new alignment out of the valley to the unclassified road approaching The Three Horseshoe pub in Wixford. After this the road would have passed Oversley Castle, descending the valley side, to cross the river Alne and under the south gate of Alauna Roman town at Alcester.

18b. Alcester to Wall 31 miles

The line of the Roman road through Alcester is obscured by modern development but is picked up by the A435 at its junction with the B4089 at King's Coughton, where is continues to Studley. The route beyond Studley and through Redditch was almost entirely destroyed by post-war housebuilding, although a mile or so can be traced in the modern street pattern in Church Hill (between SP064680 and SP062692). The line is picked at again by the B4497 near The Mount. It then is below the B road for a short distance to the junction with the B4101, where it carries on through the fields to merge with the unclassifield road just south of Barton Farm (SP057717). At this point a new alignment is made and the road, by now a lane, passes under the M42 before reaching a landmark hilltop (202 metres) at Forhill. Half a mile north of here the local lane veers off to the east while the Roman road makes another alignment fixed on to the Roman fort at Metchley. Today the site is partially under University of Birmingham railway station (SP042837). The alignment from Forhill to Metchley is now lost amid the Birmingham's grown, but its line would have passed through King's Norton and Bourneville.

Beyond the Roman fort the road makes a new alignment to Kingstanding. The route through Ladywood and Newton may no longer be easily followed but it crossed the river Tame slightly east of Perry Bridge (SP072919). Here is it followed approximately by the B4138 to A452 (Chester Road), A4041 junction west of Sutton Park. Here it can be walked along the west side of Sutton Park to Streetly, and then along Roman Road passed Little Aston golf course before diving into a housing estate to emerge crossing the A454 west of the A4026 junction. It then goes through the grounds of Little Aston Primary School and, as Forge Lane, alongside Aston Wood golf club to Ryknild Farm. It then passes through open countryside to Ashcroft Lane, Shenstone, following it for half a mile, at which point the Roman route goes rural again. Or almost, it has to cross the M6 Toll and the A5 Wall bypass before the route arrives at Watling Street ¼ mile east of Wall (SK105062). A short march would have brought the weary Roman soldier to the fort and small town of Letocetum.

18c. Wall to Derby (Little Chester) 24½ miles

On leaving the Watling Street crossroads, the Roman road takes a new alignment to Strutts Park, Derby. It is followed for most of this part by the A38, but for the first 3½ miles it's a more modest affair. The route passes through a field, across the former A5, under the Birmingham to Lichfield railway, and through a small covert to reach the A5127 at the beginning of Knowles Lane (SK112068). The lane continues to cross the A5206 at the Shoulder of Mutton pub. From here it is Cricket Lane to the A51 crossroads. It then makes its way through the modern suburbs of Lichfield to arrive at the A5192 roundabout at Boley Park. The Roman road can be followed through the industrial estate to the north, but it terminates at a disused level crossing. At the roundabout, though, turn left and then right at the next roundabout on to the A5127 up to Streethay. Here the Roman road joins again and both this and the A road merge into the A38 trunk dual carriageway. From here the line of the Roman road is under the southbound carriage way of the modern road to near Gallow Bridge, south of Burton-upon-Trent. Before that, the modern road bypasses Barton Turns to the east where the old road can be seen to the left. At the milepost 200 yards short of Gallow Bridge the A38 swerves away north on its current course while the Roman road continued on its alignment to pass through Branston. After crossing the B5018 near The Blacksmiths Arms, it follows Clays Lane and through Beans Covert, where the Roman road's agger can be seen (SK228218).

From Beans Covert the A5121 runs alongside the Roman road - crossing the A5189/B5017 on the way - as far as the one-way system by the Town Hall. From here the A road is on the Roman line again to the A511 junction at Derby Turn, then to the B5018 roundabout at the Pirelli Football Stadium (home of Burton Albion FC), and on to close by the Claymills Pumping Station. Here the A road swings north to meet the A38 at Clay Mills GSJ while the Roman road continued straight to the river Dove crossing at Monk's Bridge (SK267269). Shortly after the bridge the road is joined again by the A38 and is beneath the southbound carriageway. It passes under GSJs for the A5132, the A50 Junction 4 (Toyota Island), and under the next GSJ continues the alignment to leave the trunk road and become Ryknild Road at SK309323. The road is followed to the top of Pastures Hill, where it heads for the river Derwent via Constable Lane (SK330350), Uttoxeter Old Road, over Markeaton Brook at Nuns' Street, and along Kedleston Street. It is joined near here from the west by the Roman road from Chesterton (RM180). The river was bridged opposite the Old Chester Road leading to the west gate of the Roman fort (Derventio) at Little Chester (SK352375). The fort is also approached from the east by Roman Road RM182, arriving from Trent Locks near Sawley.

18d. Derby (Little Chester) to Chesterfield 21½ miles

At Little Chester, Ryknild Street begins a new alignment to Morleymoor (SK384413). Its course is lost in the outskirts of Derby but is picked up by Moor Road at grid reference SK372400. It becomes Quarry Road at Morleymoor. From here the road is shown shown on Ordnance Survey Landranger and Explorer mapping as it heads north to Clay Cross. A combination of unclassified roads and cross country course brings it to the B6013 at Oakerthorpe (SK387549), which follows it - more or less - through Four Lane Ends (A615, B5035) to the A61 at Higham. The A61 follows the road closely through Clay Cross to near Hill Top Farm, where the modern road heads for Old Tupton and the Roman road makes a new direct line for the river Rother at OS grid reference SK392676.

It is unclear whether the road crossed the river at this point to approach Chesterfield from the east bank or continued through Birdholme (i.e near the modern A61). Either way the route is lost. Evidence for a Roman fort was found in the town near the 'twisted spire' parish church.

18e or 18ee. Chesterfield to Rotherham 13 miles

The Roman road from Chesterfield to the Roman fort at Templeborough has not yet been traced along any of its length. Two possible routes were proposed by Ivan Margary in his book 'Roman Roads in Britain' (3rd edition 1973). He suggested route 18e to pass through Ford, Ridgeway, High Lane, Orgreave and Catcliffe; with route 18ee further to east passing through Beighton. Having taken a new, map based, look at this I suggest the following route for consideration:

  • The Roman road would leave Chesterfield fort along an alignment west of the old A61 (B6057) to cross the river Whitting at Old Whittington (SK378746). It would would then rise out of the valley on a new alignment through Hundall to Greenside on Bramley Moor. The road would then negotiate The Moss (river) before climbing up to the straight road through Ridgeway Moor and to the B6388 junction at Highlane. It would then go directly through the centre of Orgreave (site of the famous battle) to Catcliffe, where after a few short alignments along the B6066 it would approach Templeborough from the south east.

The Roman fort has been comprehensively excavated and stands on a junction with Margary route 710 (Batham Gate (Buxton) to Doncaster).

Ryknild Street
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20141102 Ryknild St 09.JPG
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Margary's Roman Roads 100+RM180 • RM182

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