Appendix 5

Ermine Street and York

The following is from Roman Roads in Britain by Thomas Codrington, published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, 1903; it covers those reaches of Ermine Street which impinge on Eboracum. Starting in London, the road heads into Lincoln via Godmanchester and Caistor, then over the Humber estuary up to York via Tadcaster.

(8) Tadcaster to York

Tadcaster is no doubt the site of the Roman Calcaria, which must have been at Castle Hill on the south-west of the river Wharfe. The river was probably crossed to the north of the church in the line of an old street on the east of the river. About half-a-mile from Tadcaster the Roman road appears a quarter of a mile north of the modern York road as a wide grass-grown farm road, at one part with a hedge on one side only, and so continues in a straight line for a mile and a half with a parish boundary along it. It was formerly called ‘The Old Street’. At Street Houses the present road takes the line, but soon leaves it, the parish boundary continuing . . . on across fields without any other trace of the old road for a mile, and then a lane with a parish boundary along it continues the line to Queen’s Arms Inn. There the present road rejoins the old road, which kept on the ridge of high ground crossed by the Great Northern Railway about two miles from York. Parish boundaries follow the road for two miles from Queen’s Arms, making seven miles of parish boundaries along the nine miles of road from Tadcaster to York. Blossom Street and Micklegate Bar are probably on the line of the Roman road, pointing one to Stonegate, the street which passes through the Roman city Eboracum on the east side of the river Ouse. The original rectangle seems to have been about 550 yards from south-west to north-east, and if Stonegate represents the middle street, about 470 yards from northwest to south-east. The breadth in this direction is, however, sometimes stated to be 650 yards, the position of the Roman wall on the south -east being uncertain.

(9) York to Stamford Bridge and Malton: Wade’s Causeway

From the south-east gate of York a Roman road followed the course of the present road along a ridge of ground rising above the moors and curving round to Stamford Bridge . . . at the beginning of the last century it was visible in Cawthorne village, and was very distinct on approaching Cawthorne camps – a remarkable group of camps situated on a high ridge (650′) overlooking a deep valley on the north. There are four camps; the most westerly is rectangular, with a double ditch, and measures 133 yards by 120 yards from crest to crest of the rampart ... . The course of the Roman road northwards from these camps is much plainer. It is called Wade’s Causeway, the story being that a giant of that name made it for his wife’s convenience in going to the moors to milk her cows. The general course of the road for two and three-quarters miles appears to have been laid out in a straight line from the west of the Roman camps (650′) to a point (825′) on Pickering Moor, a quarter of a mile to the north of Stape.

(11) York to the North-east and North

A Roman road probably left York in a line with Stonegate, following the course of the present Malton road, along which there are some lengths of parish boundary. It must have joined a Roman road shown on Warburton’s map from the north of Stamford Bridge, through Sutton-le-Forest, Easingwold, Thirsk, and Northallerton, and joining Erming Street on the north of Catterick. It is marked by Warburton on his map as visible through Thormanby and by Thirsk to Northallerton, and he mentions it in a letter to Gale as more entire from Easingwold to Thirsk. It was faintly distinguishable at the beginning of last century between Thirsk and Northallerton, and there seem to have been some remains between the latter town and Catterick. The only trace now appears to be the road called ‘The Street’, passing through Old Thirsk in the direction of Easingwold.

Another road left York by what is now Bootham Bar, outside which many Roman interments have been found. Boundaries run along the road for about a mile from York, and in places further on along the road and across country in the direction of Easingwold, where it probably joined the road last mentioned. Drake continued the road by Newburgh to the Hambleton Hills and Teesmouth. Another Roman road seems to have branches northwards from the Thirsk and Catterick road near Thornton-le-Street. At about two and a half miles north of the latter place a parish boundary begins to follow a lane, first for two miles, and then on in the same line for half-a-mile, then nearly the same line is taken up by a lane and a parish boundary to Bullamoor, and after a break of one and a quarter miles, boundaries continue in a straight line from Hallikeld for five miles to the Wiske river, lanes following the same line for most of the way. After a gap of a quarter of a mile the line is taken up by a lane, joined in five-eighths of a mile by parish boundaries which follow it for two and a half miles almost to the river Tees. For 123 miles the indications of a Roman road are thus evident, and on the north side of the Tees a line of highways continues on nearly due north for about eight miles, by Fighting Cocks, with boundaries along it for two miles, and on by Street House and Stanton-le-Street. This would give a road to the north on the east of the rivers Ouse and the Swale, in the direction of Chester-le-Street.

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