Route record MYO2174 - Roman Road Eburacum to Isurium (Dere St) (RCHME route 9)

Summary

RCHME Road 9, approaching York from NW from Aldborough (Isurium). Last visible as a ridge at the crossing with the River Nidd. The road is then represented by the line of the A59 to Foss Bridge and then SE by the service road in front of Burland House. NRHE summary: Roman road running from York to Aldborough, surviving as a raised agger 2 to 3 feet high and as hedgerows and as a minor road. This record includes former record MYO2175

Location

Grid reference Centred SE 55558 52964 (8234m by 3503m)
Map sheet SE55SE
Civil Parish Hessay, City of York, North Yorkshire
Civil Parish Upper Poppleton, City of York, North Yorkshire
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire

Map

Type and Period (1)

Full Description

RCHME Road 9, approaching York from NW from Aldborough (Isurium). The road appears formerly to be represented at this location by a hedgerow which ran NW-SE for 133 yards on a sharp lynchet from a point 58yds south of the reservoir. Most of the road had been destroyed by ploughing in the field on the SW or lower side of this lynchet. In October 1960 what was interpreted as the NE edge of the road was exposed intact in the lynchet bank. The observation was of a metalling of heavy cobbles cut into natural clay.

However, there is an argument that proposes an alternative alignment for this road which would follow the line of Acomb Road from the modern junction with Holgate Road and Boroughbridge Road to the village of Acomb where there are known Roman features and structures. This interpretation is supported by observations of extensive wetland deposits in the Danebury Drive/ Carr Lane/ Boroughbridge Road area:

The projected alignment of a Roman road across this area dictated agreement of four separate areas of formal monitoring where the water pipeline intersected its course. Topography here preserves a division between hummocks of slightly elevated moraine and low-lying flat land. On higher ground to the south and east of the proposed course of the Roman road, natural subsoil included sandy clays (IX2d, IX3b, IX4b, IX6d, IX13b, IX24b) and fine orange or yellow-buff sands (IX8b, IX14b, IX15b, IX20b). To the west, pits on higher ground revealed darker orange or brown sand or sandy loam (IX31c, IX31Ad, IX32b, IX34b, IX36c, IX37c, IX40b, paler IX40b, and IX41b). From here, as the land descends again to the east, at the north end of Tostig Avenue, a mixture of sands and clays was recorded (IX28c, IX30c, IX44(W)c, IX45b, IX47b, IX50b).

Low-lying deposits, particularly those recorded along Danebury Drive, were greyer in colour, and included grey sandy silts (IX17c, IX19c); darker grey silt (IX21c) or silty loam (IX22c); and black wet organic silt (IX11[N]c, IX26c, IX27[N]c) – the latter was especially suggestive of the fills of a watercourse/s. A tiny sample of soft discoloured clay from below this material (IX27[N]d) was taken for environmental analysis to seek confirmation of this. No dating evidence was recovered from these deposits, which were deemed indicative of a natural wetland environment.

No artefacts were retrieved despite examination of 49 pits, the most extensive fieldwork associated with this scheme. While the pits may have narrowly missed the putative Roman road, the absence of other evidence was striking, and might be considered in the light of the local ground conditions noted above.


From discussion text draft (John’s comments added):

The intensive search for the Roman road RR80, reputed to intersect works at Boroughbridge Road, revealed no trace of human activity. The suburban cemetery on rising ground close to York at Trentholme Drive (Wenham 1968) occupied an analagous roadside location at The Mount, south-west of, and closer to, the walled city. However, slightly higher land here fringes ground which recurrently revealed evidence for a wet environment in many pits observed close to the putative straight route of the Roman road leading west from York. The nearest known traces of Iron Age or Romano-British rural settlement lie to the south-west, north of medieval Knapton. With the obstacle presented by this marsh, it may be that Roman engineers favoured a route curving uphill to Acomb, whose continuation via Knapton would carry it across Knapton Moor to meet a straighter route whose line is perpetuated by tracks and field boundaries westwards from Burlands Farm, c.NGR 550 533, converging with the known Roman road at Foss Bridge.

Street-names in the area of fieldwork at Boroughbridge Road betray 20th-century preoccupation with Viking heritage, but Carr Lane, whose course descends into this housing estate, appears to give a more apt clue as to the historic environment hereabouts. It appears on the first edition Ordnance Survey map, along with an extensive area named The Carrs. John Oxley, Archaeologist for the City of York, kindly comments that recently acquired terrain modelling for this area of York confirms this area marks an inlet of low-lying ground extending south from the river Ouse towards St Stephen’s Church, Acomb. He notes that the area centres along Carr Drain, with two fishponds at its south-western end, and that Danebury Drive remains subject to flooding today, with a modern pumping station established to deal with this problem. (Martin Foreman pers comm 2009)

NHRE information:

Dere Street. RR 80a Roman Road. York - Aldborough (16 miles)
The main road from York to the north branched from RR 28c, near Micklegate Bar and excavation has revealed it on the north side of Blossom Street. For the first three miles its exact course is uncertain but from Foss Bridge, the road runs in long straight lengths and is considerably raised. The route seems designed to reach the Nidd at a convenient crossing point near Kirk Hammerton after which the road swings more to the north in a series of short straight lengths through Green Hammerton. Having changed its direction to the north-north-west, the road which is much raised, usually by 2-3 feet or more, follows a single alignment nearly all the way to Aldborough. When the main road bears away westward just before Aldborough the alignment is at first marked by hedgerows, and then by a minor road. Just after the commencement of the main alignment beyond Green Hammerton, the road is joined by Rudgate - RR 280 (LINEAR 247) from Tadcaster. The Antonine Iters I, II and V all follow the road, giving the mileage in each case as 17 miles, in good agreement with the actual distance. (1)

Road 9, approaching York from Aldborough, though last visible as a ridge at the crossing of the Nidd, is represented by the modern A 59 to Foss Bridge and thence south-east by the service road in front of Burland House to a point one mile north-west of the city boundary. Then the course is lost for two miles. From the Nidd crossing the alignment is consistent on the high ground known as Severus Hills, and here the alignment is represented by a sharp lynchet bank (area SE 580 517) in which the north-east edge of the road was exposed in October 1960. This consisted of heavy cobble metalling cutting in to the natural clay. The course of the road is uncertain until Blossom Street where its junction with Road 291 (RR 28c - LINEAR ) was excavated in 1953-54 (at SE 5965 5141). Here it was 35 ft. wide with ditch on each side and made of clay and cobbles. (2)
See Linear Archive File for further details. (3)

1 Roman roads in Britain 427-8 1973 Thomas Codrington
2 An inventory of the historical monuments in the City of York. Volume I: Eburacum: Roman York 62-3 1962 Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, England
3 VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION Ordnance Survey Linear Archive File RR 8a in NMRC


RCHME, 1962, Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York, Volume 1 Eboracum, p3 (Bibliographic reference). SYO62.

NMR, 2019, NMR data (Digital archive). SYO2214.

Sources/Archives (2)

  • --- Digital archive: NMR. 2019. NMR data.
  • --- Bibliographic reference: RCHME. 1962. Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York, Volume 1 Eboracum. 1. p3.

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (6)

Record last edited

Oct 20 2022 4:03PM

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