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23 July, 2017

Roman Roads of Britain

If you think this would make a cool poster, send me $9 on PayPal and I’ll email you a crisp PDF for printing. Or support me on Patreon and get all my files for $9!

Click to enlarge.

Here it is, by popular request. This was far more complicated than I had initially anticipated. Not only were there way more Roman Roads in Britain than I initially thought, but also their exact locations and extents are not very clear. In a few places I had to get rather creative with the historical evidence.

Once again the Pelagios digital map was massively helpful to me. Equally as helpful was the site Roman-Britain.co.uk – an absolute treasure trove of information on all things Romano-British.

Like the full Roman map, I had to do some simplifying and make some tough choices on which cities to include. Again I tried to include larger settlements or forts that were mentioned in more than one primary source. Unlike the original Roman Roads map, I was more faithful to the actual geographical location of cities. Cluttered areas around Hampshire and the Midlands did have to be shifted around somewhat.

Apologies for the dry write-up as usual, I don’t have enough time to write a compelling story right now.

FAQ

Why are the names of roads in English?

It’s true, “Watling Street” and “Ermin Way” are not exactly Latin-sounding. Unfortunately the historical Latin names have been completely lost to history. Roman Britain was not as well documented as Italy or Spain, so there is a huge lack of written sources. That’s why the names that we do have are actually Anglo-Saxon, and originated a few centuries after the Romans had left. You can read more about this on Wikipedia.

Why do some stations have English names?

Same reason as above – we’ve found Roman archeological remains there, but we don’t know what the Latin name was.

What are the modern names of the cities?

Here’s a version of the map with modern city names, or the closest towns to where the ruins are.

(I will add to the FAQ as more questions come up)

93 Comments on “Roman Roads of Britain

C
24 July, 2017 at 4:09 am

Thank you for your research.

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Nick Rowe
24 July, 2017 at 5:47 am

Great work! Although I’m not at all sure about Margidunum being ‘Castle Hill’.
Bingham is just south of the original location & is the biggest settlement in the immediate area, while the villages of Newton & East Bridgford are also very close. Never heard of Castle Hill and it doesn’t feature on any maps I’ve seen. I drive through the middle of Margidunum on my commute down the Fosse Way (it’s now the official name of a roundabout junction) and it’s not a hill and there’s no castles nearby.
https:[email protected],-0.9587986,3738m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

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Sasha
24 July, 2017 at 8:43 am

Thanks! For the modern equivalents I used mainly Roman-Britain.co.uk, which puts Margidunum as “Castle Hill, East Bridgeford, Nottinghamshire”. So perhaps East Bridgeford would have been a more recognizable name.

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Rick
25 July, 2017 at 6:55 am

I grew up in Radcliffe-on-Trent and, like Nick, I had never heard of Castle Hill. I hadn’t even seen it marked on a map. I came across this which suggests that the field containing Margidunum was called Castle Hill in the Victorian period.

http://www.ournottinghamshire.org.uk/page_id__429_path__0p31p40p171p.aspx

It would make sense in that folk memories of ancient sites often appear in place names. It’s odd, though, that the name seems to have been lost, at least to locals, in the century or so since.

Great work with the maps though.

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Richard
24 July, 2017 at 6:07 am

Trying to send by paypal but your pp address does not show up

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Sasha
24 July, 2017 at 8:41 am

Thank you, I have changed the link to paypal.me so it should work.

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Steve Jackman
24 July, 2017 at 6:55 am

Thanks for this modern twist on Roman history.. brilliant idea to.use the Lindon Underground format.

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Linda Goulden
24 July, 2017 at 7:32 am

What an engaging project! Thank you for undertaking it.
From Linda, Bugge’s Worth, near Aquae Arnemetiae

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Sasha
24 July, 2017 at 8:41 am

Thank you!

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Kathy Hindle
24 July, 2017 at 7:51 am

Sasha – this is an amazing achievement. Thank you so much. Your novel approach brings an extra dimension to the studies of Romans in Britain. How can I send you the money?
If the Romans were here now, they would have taken total control of all the social media…

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Sasha
24 July, 2017 at 8:40 am

Thank you! I’ve updated the link at the top of the page, it seems the previous one wasn’t working. You should be able to send money using the paypal.me service. Good thing the American Empire allows freedom of the media… for now…

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David Coull
24 July, 2017 at 8:17 am

Hi, On your English version, the place named Maryport in Scotland is surely Ardoch camp at Braco. Please see this website, which mentions that the garrison was relocated to Maryport, in Cumbria(!) http://www.castlesfortsbattles.co.uk/perth_fife/ardoch_roman_fort.html). I grew up a few yards from where the road north from Ardoch passes through Muthill. Otherwise, an excellent piece of work, as I never knew where most of these roads were – I now live not far south of Corinium, on the northern edge of Swindon.

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Sasha
24 July, 2017 at 9:33 am

You’re absolutely correct, I mixed up the two Alaunas. The one in Scotland is Ardoch. Will fix when I get home!

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Nick
24 July, 2017 at 8:21 am

Love it!

Though where is Holme? I see there is one just south of Peterborough, which would put it on the mainline between Cambridge and Lincoln. Equally, there is no branch-line north east from Cambridge towards Ely.

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Sasha
24 July, 2017 at 9:30 am

I named the station “Holme” but in reality it’s Holme-next-the-Sea. No Roman name survives unfortunately.

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Philip
24 July, 2017 at 8:42 am

Romans 3:23 -> Romans 6:23 -> Romans 5:8 -> Romans 10:9

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John
24 July, 2017 at 11:33 am

I live in a village on Watling Street, a few miles east of Durobrivae.

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Dominic
24 July, 2017 at 3:01 pm

And I live about 15 miles south of Lactodorum, in Milton Keynes, close to the remains of a large and sumptuous Roman villa at Bancroft – it’s a couple of miles east of Watling Street, though, which runs right through the middle of MK!

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Brian
24 July, 2017 at 4:10 pm

Any chance of a black version? I’d like to use this a lock screen wallpaper for my iPhone 7 Plus…

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Idris
25 July, 2017 at 2:46 am

A lovely, and interdsting map, however, where is Anglesey? No roman road perhaps, but still there!

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Ben Kane
25 July, 2017 at 2:51 am

Amazing! Kudos to you. I would love a poster of this, and will send you the money. Many thanks! Ben.

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Linda Fagence
25 July, 2017 at 3:16 am

Watling Street runs through North Kent.It links Dover to London…sadly omitted from the map😔 A big temple complex was found next to the road when the HS1 line was put in at Ebsfleet.

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Sasha
25 July, 2017 at 9:02 am

It’s quite prominently featured on the map actually

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Sheila O'Connell
25 July, 2017 at 3:49 am

Fascinating maps. Thanks for making them available.
I don’t use paypal as I’ve had a lot of trouble with it (fake emails arrive within hours every time I used it). If you have another way of paying I’d be happy to send money.

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Sasha
25 July, 2017 at 9:01 am

Please email me at trub@uchicago.edu

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Chris Edwards
25 July, 2017 at 5:08 am

I think you will find that most “Roman´´Roads were actually Celtic roads built hundreds of years before the Romans pushed the Celts back up into Northern Europe, they even covered them with wood to make them more comfortable to travel on.
Nice maps though and thanks for all the work!

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B
25 July, 2017 at 5:41 am

What does future roads mean? There was archeological evidence that roads were being worked on? Thanks for the map!

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Louise K
25 July, 2017 at 6:16 am

This is brilliant, thanks for sharing it. I’ve sent a payment but forgot to include the note “Roman Britain”. Can you see a payment from me and email the PDF over perhaps? Many thanks.

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Chris
25 July, 2017 at 6:43 am

You have an Alauna in what is now the Midlands. However I’ve not been able to find any reference to a settlement by that name in that area – all I can find is the one at Maryport, Cumbria, which I believe is the same one by Hadrian’s Wall. Which settlement did you mean for this location please? (by the way I live just down from Tripontium)

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Dave Malin
26 July, 2017 at 1:20 pm

It is now Alcester, Warwickshire. They have a road in the town called Alauna Avenue as a statement. As well as many other roads with a Roman theme.

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Andrew Matheson
4 August, 2017 at 5:15 am

Come and visit our small but perfectly formed Roman Museum here in Alcester – a great collection of Roan finds and free entry!

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Christy Buhrmann
25 July, 2017 at 6:51 am

PayPal paid you my $9 dollars for Roman roads but you have never sent or replied to my emails. Please send the PDF!
Check your PayPal listing.

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Sasha
25 July, 2017 at 8:59 am

Thanks for your payment Christy, as you can guess it takes me a while to send everyone an email, please remain patient

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CJ Plank
25 July, 2017 at 7:30 am
Sasha
25 July, 2017 at 8:58 am

I’ve considered it but hard to find a good partner

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Stuart Marshall
25 July, 2017 at 7:34 am

FYI a new road has been discovered between Lancaster and Ribchester http://www.romanroads.org/gazetteer/lancspages.html

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Gwenael Henry
25 July, 2017 at 7:45 am

‘Roman’ roads were actually built by the Celts

The myth of straight Roman roads has been exposed by a new book which claims the extraordinary engineering feats were the work of the Celts.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/10367457/Roman-roads-were-actually-built-by-the-Celts-new-book-claims.html

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Owain
25 July, 2017 at 7:53 am

I was actually sat on a bus, on Route IX, when I came across this…how could I not want it!

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pam
25 July, 2017 at 8:50 am

I thought the Watling street came through Letocetum basicall the route of the A5..if not there are a lot of roads round here wrongly named

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Mat
25 July, 2017 at 10:10 am

This is really interesting. I grew up in Cavsennae (Ancaster) on Ermine Street and Lindum (Lincoln) so was really cool to see how everything interconnects.

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Michael New
25 July, 2017 at 11:20 am

I was on season 1 excavation of Durocornovium c1969 under JS Wacher of Leicester University. Whilst this is indicated as Wanborough it was in fact Covingham, Swindon. I suspect that Swindon didn’t exist in Roman times but Wanborough being a small market town close by may well have been a settlement then. The site was a “staging” post for Roman troops on the move along Ermin Way between Cirencester/Gloucester and probably London.

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Cathy Simpson
27 July, 2017 at 2:37 am

Ah… John Wacher! I studied archaeology as a subsidiary subject for two years at Leicester…

You are right in that Swindon didn’t exist during Roman times. It was an Anglo-Saxon
settlement (Swine Down) which came to prominence in the industrial revolution. Good to see it’s got its own tube station though!

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Joanne
25 July, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Sasha,
I have just sent a payment through for the PDF, but I totally forgot to add the Roman Britain comment… Sorry!
Name is Joanne and payment was made on July 25th. Hope that’s enough to find me.
Thanks!

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Andrew Duffield
25 July, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Mornington Crescent?

If you could possibly produce a version with the modern names in brackets alongside the Roman ones you’d have another customer in me and many more sales besides I suspect.

Bene factum!

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Sasha
25 July, 2017 at 9:09 pm

Gratias! I do have a version with modern names only, available upon request. Unfortunately I don’t think it would be feasible to have a map with both English and Latin names.

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Rich
25 July, 2017 at 2:59 pm

Interesting project. Well done. Just off Watling Street (A5) near to Atherstone is a village called Mancetter. It’s historically significant as it’s where Boudicca was finally defeated apparently. Might be a nice addition but I’ve no idea what Mancetter was called in Roman times or if it even existed then.

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Eddie Wills
25 July, 2017 at 4:13 pm

This a very impressive peace of work, which is quite a compliment to you from a resistant Briton such as myself! I would draw your attention to the much over looked link between Vindodadia and Moriconium (Hamworthy) on Poole Harbour, however. It has been suggested that this was the point that Vespasian landed in 43AD to subdue the West Country.

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Kevyn
26 July, 2017 at 3:45 am

Fantastic map – however, you have missed the main Roman Chester to York road. You do have the Chester to Manchester link but you have missed the Manchester to York straight to York. It passes through Oldham, the Castleshaw fort, and over the pennies to York.

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Kevyn
26 July, 2017 at 3:56 am

As well as the missing road between the major Roman cities of Deva (Chester) and Eboracum (York). I would also bring the Deva (Chester, in orange) line going down straight into London and not to Camulodunum. It makes more sense there would be a direct line. Have the spur to Camulunum as a grey line if needed for aesthetic reasons.

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Sasha
26 July, 2017 at 9:59 am

1. There is no evidence of a direct link between Chester and York as of yet, so I can’t include that.

2. The Via Devana is identified specifically as running from Colchester to Chester, so starting it at London would not be faithful to the historians. Granted, the Devana is essentially a modern creation, there was likely no such single Roman road. But I’d rather go with the consensus, since I’m not an archaeologist or historian myself.

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Kevyn
7 August, 2017 at 5:22 am

1. There isn’t? Where do you back up that claim? Deva (Chester) was a major Roman settlement. Eboracum (York) was another major Roman settlement. The transfer of troops between the two settlements was vital to protect each site. Reynolds ‘Iter Britanniarum’ and Jones & Mattingly’s ‘Atlas of Roman Britain’ and ‘Frere Brittannia’ as well as Coddington’s ‘Roman Roads of Britain’ all list a road from Chester to York via Manchester.

I live near Castleshaw Roman Fort in Oldham and that is why I know about the road (I take children up to the fort every year as part of my school history lessons). Castleshaw fort “is remote and exposed [fort] lying along the Deva Victrix (Chester) to Eboracum (York) Roman road” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castleshaw_Roman_Fort .

2. I will accept your opinion here although the point that the Romans linked major settlements up for military reasons still applies.

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Sasha
26 July, 2017 at 10:01 am

Thank you — as I described in the other comment, the historical evidence for this is not complete, though many would certainly put a road there.

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RLJ
26 July, 2017 at 4:29 am

wonderful piece of work

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Sasha
26 July, 2017 at 9:53 am

Thank you!

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Gill
26 July, 2017 at 5:33 am

How about turning it into an App?

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Sasha
26 July, 2017 at 9:55 am

Haven’t got the time unfortunately!

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Kathie Dart
26 July, 2017 at 7:43 am

Awesomeness!

What are the “future” lines all about?

Cheers

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Sasha
26 July, 2017 at 10:02 am

These are roads that for whatever reason were never completed.

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Hilary Winstanley
26 July, 2017 at 8:20 am

Just paypalled you $9.00 but forgot to put Roman Britain anywhere.

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Sasha
26 July, 2017 at 9:54 am

Thank you, I’ll keep that in mind.

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John Denning
26 July, 2017 at 8:40 am

I just sent you a payment on Paypal, but I didn’t see the spot on the page to add a note to you. Please could you send me the pdf? Thanks.

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Sasha
26 July, 2017 at 9:54 am

Thank you, will do!

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Val Simpkin
26 July, 2017 at 9:41 am

This is wonderful! Would love a T shirt with this! Amazing!

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Cathy Simpson
27 July, 2017 at 2:38 am

What a wonderful project! I’m finding this map absolutely fascinating!

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Dave Thompson
27 July, 2017 at 3:51 am

Surprised not to find Icknield Way which passes through Letchworth and on towards Dunstable. But I think your map is really good, well done

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Brett Walder
27 July, 2017 at 4:18 am

Excellent work there, youth!

The roman route A66 from Scotch Corner to Penrith via Stainmore is also known (and marked on OS maps) as “Watling Street”.

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Bruce Wiggins
27 July, 2017 at 5:03 am

Great map 🙂 Isn’t Derbentio actually Derventio
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derventio_Coritanorum

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Julia Kogan
27 July, 2017 at 7:48 am

Hi Sasha, I’ve just sent you a PayPal payment. I look forward to getting the poster.

Great work, thanks!

Julia

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Will Perrin
28 July, 2017 at 12:13 am

What is Watling Street II?

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Sasha
28 July, 2017 at 10:34 am

It’s a combination of various disparate routes that go by many local names, including (oddly enough) “Watling Street” in most areas. Rather than cluttering the map I combined them.

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Elaine Edgar
28 July, 2017 at 2:12 am

This looks fab- but you missed us off 🙁
Epiacum Roman Fort near Alston in Cumbria! ( although the fort is actually in Northumberland)
Take a look at
http://Www.epiacumheritage.org
It’s been called “arguably the best preserved Roman Fort in the Empire” by Stewart Ainsworth

A great idea to present Roman Britain this way -looks fab!

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Sasha
28 July, 2017 at 10:36 am

Unfortunately it’s on a minor road that was too short for me to include on the map, though I may add it in a future revision. Definitely came across the location, though I did not know it was so well preserved.

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Martin
28 July, 2017 at 8:09 am

Where is Dacorum though? Hemel Hempstead is a big town.

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Martin Storer
28 July, 2017 at 8:11 am

Hi Sasha

Great work. I live in Penrith near Brougham close to the route of the road titled Wattling St II – it’s known locally as “High Street” (Ref. OS) since it impressively goes over some fairly high hills in the Cumbrian Mountain Range.

Reading your comments trail the map seems to be evolving with time and I wondered whether it may be more efficient for you to put the maps in a secure part of a website where subscribers (including those who have already paid) can simply download the version they want. Payments would be taken automatically to your PayPal account when people sign up. Simple enough to set this all up…

Free’s you up from the headache of managing this all yourself – I can imagine this will get worse as more and more people get to know about this excellent piece of work.

Martin

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Sasha
28 July, 2017 at 10:33 am

Thanks Martin, fantastic idea. I’m definitely looking into making my delivery system more efficient, we’ll see what I can do.

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Marc Widdowson
28 July, 2017 at 8:44 am

Hi. I sent you a payment through PayPal yesterday. I included my email address in the comment. I have not received anything yet.

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Ian Perryman
28 July, 2017 at 10:33 am

“Why are the names of roads in English?”

Sarn Helen isn’t English or Anglo-Saxon.
Sarn is a Welsh word that means ’causeway’.

Tradition has that it’s named after named after Saint Elen of Caernarfon, a Celtic saint, whose story is told in The Mabinogion. (Wikipedia)

But it might be a corruption of the the Welsh name ‘Sarn y Lleng’, the causeway of the legions.

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Sasha
28 July, 2017 at 4:43 pm

You’re correct, “Via Devana” is clearly not English as well.

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Karen Williams
28 July, 2017 at 8:09 pm

OK, where can I get a T-shirt with this on it?

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Pauline Brocklehurst
29 July, 2017 at 3:59 am

There is a Roman road going alongside the Tebay to Lambrigg stretch of the M6 motorway and the River Lune – we have always called this “The Golden Mile” but I’m not sure where the name came from….

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Fiona
30 July, 2017 at 2:35 am

Thank you! I love this and always wondered where they all were.

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Janet Day
30 July, 2017 at 4:14 am

Hi Sasha, I’ve ordered both: roman city names and modern city names BUT i forgot the note/reference on the one with the roman names. Sorry to give you extra work but one of each please

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Pete from Verulamium
30 July, 2017 at 8:15 am

From Wikipedia:
Camlet Way was a Roman road in England which ran roughly east-west between Colchester (Camalodunum) in Essex and Silchester (Calleva Atrebatum) in Hampshire via St Albans (Verulamium).[1] Camlet Way crossed the River Thames by bridge at Hedsor Wharf to Sashes Island near Cookham in Berkshire.[2]

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Ed89
31 July, 2017 at 7:43 pm

I hate to be picky, as the new commer, but was Camulodunum not the Roman Capital of Britain, and should really be larger than Londinium, or are you going with the last century of Roman Britain on your map, when Londinium may well have become the Capital?

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Sasha
31 July, 2017 at 11:33 pm

Camulodunum was the original capital but Londinium quickly outgrew it, taking its spot as capital ca. 75 AD. So Londinium was the capital for most of Britannia’s history.

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Gail
1 August, 2017 at 3:56 pm

I would love a copy of this for my husband please

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Owen Dawson
1 August, 2017 at 4:12 pm

Hi, absolutely love your work! Such a great idea. I sent you your few bucks as requested earlier today, but forgot to specify that it is this Roman Britain map I would like please. Many thanks.

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Sasha
2 August, 2017 at 11:52 am

Thanks for specifying, I will try to get to you as soon as I can.

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Mike
4 August, 2017 at 2:00 am

Hi, just sent you some bucks but Paypal didn’t show a reference box for me to type in Roman Roads… the email address was grumpygrapefruit. Thanks!

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Andrew Matheson
4 August, 2017 at 5:22 am

Sasha you deserve a Roman medal – brilliant work.

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David Harper
7 August, 2017 at 5:35 am

This is a brilliant idea, cleverly executed. You should consider turning it into a board game along the lines of The London Game, which is based on the actual Tube map.

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