by Christopher Hadley
Books > History
A Story of Romans and Ways to the Past
Have you ever heard the march of legions on a lonely country road?
For two thousand years, the roads the Romans built have determined the flow of ideas and folktales, where battles were fought and where pilgrims trod. Almost everyone in Britain lives close to a Roman road, if only we knew where to look.
In the beginning was Watling Street, the first road scored on the land when the invading Romans arrived on a cold and alien Kentish shore in 43 CE. Campaign roads rolled out to all points of the compass, forcing their way inland and as the Britons fell back, the roads pursued them relentlessly, carrying troops, supplies and military despatches. In the years of fighting that followed, as the legions pushed onwards across what is now England, into Wales and north into Scotland in search of booty, mineral wealth, land and tribute, they left behind a vast road network, linking marching camps and forts, changing the landscape, etching the story of the Roman advance into the face of the land, channelling our lives today.