Roman road pre-dating Hadrian's Wall discovered in Northumberland

The remains of a Roman road dating back nearly 2,000 years have been discovered in rural Northumberland.

Sunday, 3rd January 2021, 7:00 am

The evidence was found by Northumbrian Water during the start of a £55,000 investment scheme at Stanegate Roman Road, near Settlingstones, Hexham.

Brian Hardy, Northumbrian Water project manager, said: "We are delighted to have uncovered this important piece of hidden heritage and play our part in helping to protect it.

"We have successfully delivered our investment work, through the use of alternative methods and techniques, to not only enhance and futureproof our customers' water supplies but also protect this suspected integral part of surviving Roman archaeology."

The Roman road remains discovered by Northumbrian Water at Settlingstones. Picture: Archaeological Research Services Ltd.

The utility company called in its own experts and notified relevant authorities to record and help preserve this important heritage finding.

The relic remnants of the road itself, monitored by Archaeological Research Services Ltd, pre-dates Hadrian's Wall and had forts along its length - within one day's march of each other.

This is why the well-known fort at Vindolanda is sited south of Hadrian's Wall on the course of the Stanegate.”

Philippa Hunter, senior projects officer at Archaeological Research Services Ltd, said: "While monitoring the excavation pit, our archaeologist identified a deposit of compacted cobbles thought to be the remains of the Roman road's foundations - it is believed to have been built by Agricola or his successors around 80 AD.

The road is believed to be nearly 2,000 years old. Picture: Archaeological Research Services Ltd.

"Here, the road was constructed using rounded cobbles set in a layer measuring around 15cm deep, with around 25cm of gravel surfacing laid on top.

"Unfortunately no dating evidence or finds have been recovered to confirm the precise date of the archaeological remains.

"However, given the location of the cobbles along the projected route of the Roman road and its depth below the modern road surface, we are confident the remains identified form an important part of the early northern Roman frontier."

Roman settlements, garrisons and roads were established throughout the Northumberland region after Gnaeus Julius Agricola was appointed Roman governor of Britain in 78 AD.

The Roman road at Stanegate, near Settlingstones. Picture: Archaeological Research Services Ltd.

Hadrian's Wall was completed by about 130 AD, to define and defend the northern boundary of Roman Britain with Stanegate and Dere Street the major road links.

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