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Watson's Roman Roads

Ryknild Street (RR18c). Gallow Bridge to Monk's Bridge - 5½ miles (8.9 km).

Please note


Ryknild Street is a Roman road in England, 112 miles long (180 km), with a route roughly south-west to north-east. It runs from the Fosse Way at Bourton on the Water in Gloucestershire to Templeborough in South Yorkshire, and passes through Alcester, Studley, Redditch, Metchley Fort, Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield, Lichfield, Burton upon Trent and Derby. Wikipedia

The section of the road from the Roman forts and settlement at Wall near Lichfield to those at Little Chester in Derby is known by modern commentators as 'RR18c' after the number assigned by Ivan D Margary. The section in this study is shown in Map 1.

Thomas Codrigton remarks (1918)

Thomas Codrington published a comprehensive account of Roman roads in Britain in 1909. Here are excerpts dealing with RR18c in the Burton area:

"The latter [modern] road occupies the line of Riknild Street nearly as far as Branston. In Stukeley's time " part of Rigning Way north from Wall was very fair with a high straight bank." The same straight line appears to have continued through Burton-on-Trent, and on to high ground (340') near the Knoll, Littleover, two miles from Derby. The modern road from Burton to Derby occupies the course of Ricknild Street from the middle of the former town to near the river Dove, where the straight line is deviated from for a mile in crossing the river, and then resumed."

"In the beginning of the eighteenth century the road on Burton Moor was paved; in Stukeley's time it was the common road, and in 1769 a considerable length appeared on Egginton Heath, but it has since been obliterated by the making of the turnpike road."

'Roman Roads in Britain' Third edition 1918, 226. Link

  Map 1.

The route described by Ivan D Margary

"Near Branston, on the outskirts of Burton upon Trent, the present road curves a little to the west, to keep away from the river, and it is possible that this may be an original modification for that reason.  The old line is now lost at the entrance to Burton, where the present road swings to the east, but it may be represented for a short distance from the north end of Branston by the course of Clays Lane, and then, after a short gap, by Wellington Street in Burton, and by Derby Street till it joins the main road again, which then follows the alignment onwards.

"At Stretton, The River dove had to be crossed near its junction with the Trent, and the old road made a direct crossing which has long since been destroyed by the rivers, and by the works for the canal which also crosses there."

'Roman Roads in Britain' Third edition (1973), 305.

The route recently described

"From [Streetley] 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 (SK 228 218).

"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, 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 (SK 267 269). Shortly after the bridge the road is joined again by the A38 and is beneath the southbound carriageway."

The Roader's Digest: the SABRE Wiki

A new description and commentary

If you are fortunate enough to have a copy of Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 'The National Forest' (West sheet) in front of you, you'll see Ryknild Street entering the sheet at Streethay, by Lichfield and exiting south of Derby at the A38/A50 interchange. This provides a good overview of street's route as it travels through the Trent valley. You can also see the line of the ancient road is perfectly straight across the map.

Although greatly improved over time, the northbound carriageway of the modern A38 south of Burton rests on the Roman agger. Raised on a broad causeway the Roman road would have stood above all but the highest river flooding.

The approach to Burton, and the starting point of our study, is a turnpike milestone (Burton 3, Lichfield 9) beside the A38 southbound carriageway (figure 1). Map 2 shows the position of the post at location 'B'. The post was originally approximately 300 metres further south (A) but moved at least twice to accommodate the trunk road and large scale 'Burton Gateway' commercial development. The northbound carriageway of the milestone's former position is close to the Roman road alignment.

After a short distance the modern road veers away west from the Roman alignment and crosses Tatenhill Brook at Gallow Bridge. The Roman road would have cross the brook a little to the east (C). There is no record of the the bridge's structure, no doubt due to extensive gravel extraction and drainage management.

For the next 1.3km all trace of the road is lost due to extensive gravel extraction. There is no reason to believe the Roman road diverged from its alignment as the modern dual carriageway does. The Ordnance Survey map of 'Roman Britain' Third Edition (1956) depicted a kink in the road in this area, but the following edition (1979) straightened it out.

  Fig 1.

The road leaves the modern floodplain to cross Branston Brook (D) and Green. The alignment crosses Old Road, Branston (E) and then Main Street at point location 'F' (near The Blacksmiths Arms), and is rejoined a short distance along Clays Lane (G). The road is accompanied by the lane to the southern end of the recreation ground (H). At his point it can been seen as a low ridge running under a tennins court and a car park . After crossing the corner of the ground it enters Bean's Covert (I) alongside the unmade footpath. After a short distance the Roman road's agger can be seen to the left (west) for about 250 metres, averaging 18 meteres wide and 0.3 meteres high (see figure 2).

  Fig 2.

On leaving the covert the road is lost among modern commercial development for a considerable distance to Shobnall Brook (P). However, 18th and 19th century mapping provides considerable detail of the area prior to the road's destruction by modern works.

Fig 3.


Location points - south to north

A. Original Turnpike milestone position SK 2121 1960       M. Watercourse SK 2361 2276
B. Current Turnpike milestone position SK 2146 1988 N. Old field boundaries begin SK 2367 2284
C. Tatenhill Brook SK 2162 2014 O. Old field boundaries end SK 2382 2301
D. Branston Brook SK 2304 2104 P. Shobnall Brook SK 2386 2305
E. Old Road SK 2362 2111 Q. Boundaries at rear of properties begin SK 2387 2307
F. Main Street SK 2240 2118 R. Boundaries at rear of properties end SK 2410 2334
G. Clays Lane begin SK 2261 2145 S. Alignment with Derby Street SK 2421 2349
H. Clays Lane end SK 2278 2166 T. Alignment with Derby Road (old Derby Turn location) SK 2461 2401
I. Bean's Covert begin SK 2286 2177 U. Horninglow Brook (Hornbrook) and Parish boundary SK 2451 2504
J. Bean's Covert end SK 2300 2196 V. Stretton Brook SK 2568 2539
K. Ordish Covert SK 2321 2222 W. Modern road diverges SK 2601 2581
L. Brook and Parish boundary SK 2327 2229 X. River Dove Bridge SK 2686 2692

Monument Record Sources

Monument Number: 929354. Location: SK 2283 2170. Ryknild Street at Bean's Covert. (Taken from annotations on large scale map strips with Linear Archive File RR 18c). (SK 2284 2170 - SK 2287 2175) "Ploughed down agger as gravelly ridge 18m wide and 0.3m high across ploughed field." V J Burton/19-MARCH-1958/Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Field Investigator.

(SK 2294 2183 - SK 2301 2193) "Agger survives through copse averaging 10m wide and 0.5m high." Surveyed at 1:2500. D J Chapman/22-JAN-1975/Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Field Investigator. (SK 2284 2170 - SK 2287 2175) Slight ridge across playing field.(SK 2294 2183 - SK 2301 2193) No change. D J Chapman/22-JAN-1975/Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Field Investigator.

The agger (between SK 2284 2170 - SK 2287 2175) described by authorities 1 and 2 was not seen on good quality APs. However, cropmarks of four ditches on slightly different alignments (with a maximum length of 142m) were seen. These probably represent flanking ditches of the road which may have been recut, hence the differing alignments. (Morph No. FR.86.19.1). Antonia Kershaw/21-APR-1993/RCHME: National Forest Project

Monument Number: 929355. Location: SK 2317 2212 Potential cropmark ditch of Roman date seen as a single linear feature defined by one ditch, with a maximum length of 68m. This is probably a flanking ditch belonging to Rynkild Street. Mapped using good quality AP's. (Morph No. FR.86.20.1). Antonia Kershaw/21-APR-1993/RCHME: National Forest Project

The Lez Watson Inexperience

The author - Leslie (Lez) V Watson - has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.
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v19.2 :: April 2018