Motorway Maximus

Amazingly this road managed toavoid destruction from tree roots, suggesting that shallow rooted treesprovided cover.  An oak would havesmashed it all up.

Instead we get a prime example ofRoman road at the height of Roman power. The Romans did not ever truly rely on fortifications.  They were just too good at tearing themdown.  Instead mobile armies quite ableto match any local forces made roads a key method for projecting power.

The map shows us a road thatfollowed the coast allowing sea borne support also.  This provided a strong base for the South ofEngland that could be supported from Gaul inan emergency.

It was never a good plan to challengeRoman military resources before the fifth century and the collapse triggered bya sharp temperature drop and associated plague. Sadly, Englandwas the first outlier to be abandoned.

Motorway maximus: Unearthed, a stunning Roman super-highway built 1,900years ago

Last updated at 11:49 AM on 7th February 2011

The 15ft-high road ran from London to Exeter

It was a route once trod by legionnaires as they marched across aconquered land.

But, eventually, the Romans left Britain and the magnificent highwaythey created was reclaimed by nature and seemingly lost for ever.

Now, some 2,000 years after it was built, it has been uncovered in thedepths of a forest in Dorset

And, remarkably, it shows no sign of the potholes that blight our modern roads.

Half-mile long: Laurence Degoul from the Forestry Commission stands ona 15ft-high section of Roman road uncovered in PuddletownForest in Dorset

Constructed by the Roman invaders as part of a route from London (Londinium) to Exeter (Isca), the 85ft wide earthwork standsmore than 15ft high and consists of a sweeping road with deep ditches at theside.

It was so densely covered by trees, however, that although itsexistence was known about, it simply could not be found until now.

One of the country’s first roads, it was uncovered when the ForestryCommission, acting on advice from English Heritage expert Peter Addison,cleared the Norway spruce fir trees in Puddletown Forest. 

Mr Addison said it was the biggest Roman road he had come across andthat it was probably designed to make a statement. It is thought that it mighthave been built shortly after the Roman conquest in the first century and itsscale would have been chosen to intimidate people living nearby.

Between deep ditches: Experts believe the road's scale was todeliberately intimidate the locals - the sight of a Roman legion marching alongthe road would have had the desired effect

The section uncovered was built from gravel and is amazinglywell-preserved thanks to never having been under the plough and later covered witha dense pine wood

The sight of a Roman legion marching along it would surely have had thedesired effect.
It is thought the road would have been made from layers of gravel and the factit still exists is testimony to the skills of the builders.

There is a central cobbled ‘street’, which would have been used forrapid troop movements, and outer ‘droving’ roads for livestock, as well asditches for water drainage. 

Mr Addison said: ‘It’s extraordinary. It has been known about but whenthe Forestry Commission wanted to find it, they struggled.

‘The trees were planted so tightly it was difficult to move throughthem. But they called me in and I managed to find it.

‘It is part of the road that goes from Badbury Rings to the fort atDorchester and was part of the network of roads from Old Sarum (now Salisbury) to Exeter.

Artist's impression: The Roman road being built in the Dorset forest 1,900 years ago

‘It is absolutely huge and unlike anything I have ever seen. Here youhave a large road with huge ditches either side. It is raised very high whichis unusual. It is only speculation, but the height might have been to make astatement.

‘It is thought this was a road made early in the occupation and notused for long. If so, then it would have been incredibly impressive to thelocal people.

‘In other parts of the forest we know the road was made using graveland they probably used layers to build up the agger (embankment). They builtditches on either side to act as soakaways to prolong the life of the road. 

‘But more work needs to be done to find out these details.’ 
It is hoped that archaeologists will be able to examine the road.

A Forestry Commission spokesman said it would not be planting any moretrees on it. 
The road will probably be grassed over in the future, he added.

‘We have painstakingly uncovered one of the UK’s most remarkable sections ofancient Roman road,’ the spokesman said.

Scientists had to cut down Norway Spruce fir trees in Puddletown Forestin order to uncover the half-mile long section of road between Londonand Exeter

Read more:

No comments:

Post a Comment