The Pilgrims Way” near Guildford, England.  Named after Mediaeval travellers, it probably dates back to the Stone Age.

5000 to 1000BC: The earliest humans travelled only for survival. They migrated out of Africa and later they moved to follow their food. These were hunter-gatherers. They undoubtedly didn’t make anything that could be called a road because they simply followed the animals they hunted.

The First Agricultural Revolution was when humans began farming. Without doubt, they will have created tracks joining separate communities to each other and to meeting places, long barrows and later, stone circles. 

As time passed, people began to trade with each other and this led to the creation of long distance trackways. It’s difficult to say when the people first traded but it certainly goes back as far as the Stone Age.

Ancient trackways include the Harrow Way and the Pilgrims’ Way in southern England, and the Ridgeway which runs all the way from the Dorset coast to the Wash in Norfolk. This has been used for at least 5,000 years. 

Wooden causeways have been found in the Somerset levels near Glastonbury and are believed to be the oldest known purpose built roads in the world. They consist mainly of oak planks laid on pegs driven into the underlying peat and date back to 3800BC.

The Lindholme Trackway is later, dating to around 2500 BC. It fits within a trend of narrowing width and increased sophistication during the third millennium BC, which some suggest could represent a shift towards wheeled transport at that time.

Next: Celtic Trading Routes


Further reading about ancient trackways on Wikipedia:
Ancient trackways across the world (including Britain)

Ancient Trackways in England  









Section 3:

The Roads

Introduction

‍ The world of long-distance coach travel.


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‍ Go to Living Memories

Anecdotes written by people who actually travelled on the coaches

Go to the Age of Coaching

The coachmen, the inns, the coach proprietors - they’re all here. Come in and meet them

Go to the Roads

Britain’s roads were pretty impassable for most of our history.  Coach travel was very difficult until they improved

Go to The Coaches

Wheeled transport evolved over many years. Find out how coaches developed

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Background

Sources and information about how I came to create this website