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Roman Roads

Section 3:

The Roads

Introduction

The world of long-distance coach travel

Ancient Trackways

The first roads

Celtic Trading Routes

The Celts were trading across Europe and although nothing remains of their roads, they must have followed fixed routes

Roman Roads

The Romans built roads, famously straight. These are the first roads that we in England are familiar with

The Middle Ages

After the Romans left, our roads fell into disrepair. Find out what happened

The Tudors

After the dissolution of the monasteries, even the church’s work ended

The Stuarts

During the Stuart period the first beginnings of improvement appeared

Thomas Mace

The first proposal to improve Britain’s roads

The Blind Roadmaker

The first person to take active steps to improve the roads

Thomas Telford

As pressure for improved transport links grew, this engineer made a real difference

John McAdam

Perhaps the most famous roadmaker, His method is still essentially in use today

Turnpikes

Britain’s roads at last allow fast long-distance travel 

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‍ Part 1: Living Memories

Anecdotes written by people who actually travelled on the coaches

Part 2: The Age of Coaching

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

Part 3: The Roads

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

Part 4: The Coaches

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

Background

Sources and information about how I came to create this website

Home Page

Home Page of the Coaching Website

43BC to 410AD: The Romans built roads! The system of roads they built was amazing and famously, all led to Rome! They were built for the movement of troops but over four hundred years they probably became used for social travel too. A milestone, or milliare, was placed at every Roman mile—4854 English feet—and posting-stations, “mansiones,” were built at distances varying from seven to twenty miles.

Roman roads were scientifically constructed:- 

‍ • Pavimentum (foundation) Fine earth, beaten hard.

‍ • Statumen (the bed of the road) Large stones, sometimes mixed with mortar.

‍ • Ruderatio Small stones, well mixed with mortar.

‍ • Nucleus A mixture of lime, chalk, pounded brick, or tile; or gravel, sand, and lime mixed with clay.

‍ • Summum Dorsum Surface of the paved road.

They were so well made that remains of Roman roads are still sometimes uncovered, in fairly perfect condition, although buried from six to fifteen feet, after the hundreds of years of neglect which followed the abandonment of Britain and the decay of Roman civilisation. 

Next: The Middle Ages

Subway-style map of Roman roads by Sasha Trubetskoy

Click here to visit