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Roman Roads in the Don Valley

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This article first appeared in the Transactions of the Hunter Archaeological Society, Vol 6 p 168, and is reproduced here by kind permission of the Society.

Notes in [ ] appear at the end.


The Ricknild Street-a suggested route.


The discovery of the ancient roads in the Brinsworth area of the Don Valley has added a little more to our knowledge of the Roman road system in this district.

The Roman Fort at Templeborough, situated as it is in a commanding position, protected on the north by the River Don, on the east by the confluence of that river with the Rother, and also on this eastern side and towards the south by the low-lying, marshy lands in the districts known to-day as Ickles and Bradmarsh has always been difficult to "tie up" with an ancient road system.

Old maps show a line, usually dotted, which indicates a road passing through the South Gate of the Fort, traversing the Camp, leaving by the North Gate, crossing the Don, and proceeding towards Greasborough. The road is so shown on maps drawn by Warburton, Tuke, Bowen, and others during the 18th century, and designated "Ricknild Street."

Also, J. D. Leader, F.S.A., tells us that in his day there was a tradition that a paved road had formerly crossed Brinsworth Common and been known locally as "the Roman Road."

"Between Brinsworth Farm and the Rotherham and Tinsley Turnpike" (Sheffield Road), he says, "this ancient road has now been closed, and a notice issued in the name of the landlord.... No trace of the road remains on the surface, but a removal of the turf would probably reveal it.” [1]

During the excavations of the Forts in 1877-8, the excavators discovered the roadway passing through the Fort (the Via Principalis) at a depth of about 1 foot 6 ins. below the ground. This road was approximately 21 feet wide and roughly pitched. [2]

Later they came upon another road surface 1 ft. 6 ins below this, also boulder pitched, but in a better state of preservation than the first. Near the south end of the colonnade of the granaries the excavators found the lower road at a depth of 3 ft. 6 ins. below the later road, and the base of the southern column of the colonnade of the granaries was laid at 5 feet below the 1877 ground surface.[3]

In 1916-1917, Thomas May, F.S.A., in his more complete excavations of the Fort, traced this road from the South Gate across Sheffield Road into the field opposite the Fort.

In 1918 this road appeared again and during the crisis of 1938, when digging A.R.P. trenches, United Steels Ltd, discovered another length of it running in a south-easterly direction.

In November, 1946, electric cables were laid by Rotherham Corporation and once more the road was found and this time plotted on the map. Following the line indicated by the old maps Mr. May claimed that his discovery in 1918 closed the gap in the known trace of

Ricknild Street, an ancient highway running north and thought by some authorities to have its feet buried in the dim past of British history.

This ancient highway may be the one described in the Laws of Edward the Confessor, in which four roads are mentioned, Watling Strete, Fosse, Hickenild (possibly Ricknild) Strete; and Erming Strete, and of these "stretes" it is said that "two run lengthways and two across the Kingdom".[4]

Writing in or about 1945, T. Codrington, M.Inst:C.E., F.S.A., quotes Higden as stating that Ricknild Street tends from the southwest to the north, beginning at St. David's and ending at the mouth of the Tyne; passing Worcester, Droitwich, Birmingham, Lichfield, Derby and Chesterfield. [5]

According to Codrington the Street is traceable from Bourton-on-the-Water, where, he says, it ran on to Alcester, then by Birmingham, thence to Derby, and from there to Chesterfield, where in 1817 Bishop Benet describes it as, "quite plain (for 300 yards through enclosures and over Tupton Moor, 3 miles south of the town".[6]

A few miles north of Chesterfield; says Codrington, [7] Ricknild Street is shown on John Warburton's Map as travelling by Eckington to Beighton.

Bishop Benet says in 1817 `` . . . the country people have a tradition that after crossing the Rother near Chesterfield it proceeded on the east of that Brook, passing on the west of Killamarsh Church and through the parish of Beighton into Yorkshire, but I am more inclined to think the Roman road continued exactly on its old bearing,- on the west of the Rother, leaving Whittington on the left, through West Handley and Ridgeway to the Roman Camp (at Templeborough) on the banks of the Don, while the old Ricknild Street proceeds on the east side into Yorkshire".[8]

This distinction drawn by the Bishop between the Roman road leading towards Templeborough and the old British Ricknild Way is important and needs careful notice. He is, I think, correct in taking the ancient British track, the Ricknild, more to the east, and looking westward for a true Roman road leading north.

The Bishop makes this pertinent remark when he has traced the road to Beighton, and there the matter rested until 1847, when a short branch railway was made to connect the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway (the present London North Eastern) near Handsworth Woodhouse with the old Midland (London Midland and Scottish) line near Eckington.

The contractor was Mr. John Shortridge of Sheffield, and he says: "My Foreman, William Stevens, pointed out to me a certain paved road, which I had no doubt was of the Roman period, having seen several of the same character. The road is to be found a few chains to the north side of Beighton Station, and passes under the embankment at a very oblique angle, about 18 ins below the surface, and was discovered in cutting the side trenches to the said embankment".[9]

And there all definite trace of Ricknild Street has lain since this date, although many theories have been advanced as to its probable line northward through the Don Valley.

Ricknild Street was, as Mr. May remarks in his Report on Templeborough, the early road travelling north. He says "The Ricknild Street when approaching York is only two miles from Irming Street, and is held to be the original road to the north during the Roman advance, which accounts for the early erection of Templeborough".[10]

As I am only concerned with the Ricknild Street from Beighton to the point where it approaches Woodlesford, as one authority traces it, or in its approach to Castleford, which is its more usually accepted destination, I will forbear to give any further details of the route southward below Beighton, after stating that the British Way, "The Ricknild", may possibly have passed to the least of Thorpe Salvin, formerly known as Ricknildthorpe, and may have joined up with the route I shall trace from Beighton.

As we are all aware, river crossings played a large part in the planning, if such a word be applicable, of the early roads in Britain. And in this part of the Don Valley we have six crossings of the Don to consider - namely, Sheffield, Washford or Westford at Attercliffe, Deadman's Hole, near Templeborough, Rotherham, and Mexborough (Strafford Sands), and possibly one at Aldwarke. And of these all I am. immediately concerned with are Deadman's Hole, Rotherham, Mexhorough, and rather vaguely, Aldwarke.

The Ricknild Way (British).

If we pick up Codrington's line for Ricknild Street at Beighton we may possibly trace the route of the British Ricknild Way. Let us follow him over the Rother at this point and proceed via Aughton.

We can follow an old track which is, or was, visible on the eastern side of Burnt Wood, past Spa House, turn to the east and then bear north along Treeton Long Lane to Woodfoot, where an old track will lead us up the steep hill to the boundary of the Oakood Hall Park, across Upper and Lower Flatts, now within the Park, on the east of Canklow Wood. This track, which leads directly past the tumuli and Iron Age settlement recently discovered by Mr. H. A. Copley is still discernible in places.

I must pause here to express my, gratitude to Mr. Copley for his courtesy in permitting me to mention this important discovery before he has himself fully reported it.

To resume our route, which continues past Canklow Wood. House (now known as Oakwood Farm), crossing the lane (shown on the 6 in. Ordnance Map as Lawton Lane, now locally known as "Taylor's Lane", the line appears to follow the western boundary of the grounds of Moorgate House to fall into the line of the present Moorgate, which runs upon the line laid down by our forefathers in 1617, when the townspeople of Rotherham successfully petitioned the Countess of Shrewsbury for a more convenient route into the town than the Packman's way, which lay more to the east, travelling into Wellgate.

This Packman's road had climbed up from Whiston, turned off to the right at the "Mile Oke", which stood on the site now occupied by the 'Lodge' to Red House (now Swinden House), and its trace may still be seen halfway down the hillls~ide winding past the east front of Moorgate Hall, then north to run on the line of the present Moorgate for a little way, then swinging east and following our Hollowgate into Wellgate and thence to the river crossing. [11] This route to the north was in use during the Middle Ages.

But the old Ricknild Way (Map A), I feel, continued over Rotherham Moor, and was possibly still represented until 1617 by the footpath which led over Canklow Lydgate, or Lower Moorgate, and which our forefathers made into their new road, leading past the "Mount" as the former Workhouse is now named. When this Workhouse was enlarged in 1894, a pottery mould bearing the figure of Diana was found on the site.[12]

The road then went on past The Crofts and turned down the old Sparken Lane, later named Talbot Lane, now misnamed Ship Hill.

This route takes us to the top of High Street, and the ancient Ricknild Way may possibly have followed the direct line represented formerly by old Millgate, which ran along the east bank of the Don to come to the river crossing. This brought our remote ancestors to the ancient ford -which preceded Rotherham Bridge, still standing on the downstream side of the modern Chantry Bridge.

From this point the pre-Roman track possibly continued along the present Rawmarsh Road as far as the L.M.S. Railway bridge and may have followed the line of an old footpath which runs north into Newbiggin Lane, past Street Row, to rejoin the existing main road near St. Mary's Church.

It then bore eastward to Swinton and continued almost due east to Mexborough, where possibly a track from Thrybergh would fall into it after crossing the Don at Strafford Sands.

If I am correct, the two would continue as the Ricknild Way, passing along Street Lane, by St. Helen's Chapel, near Barnburgh, on the west, and the junction of three roads marked an the 1840 one-inch map as "Hangman's Stone" and at which stood a tumulus, now removed.

From here, I think, the track swung to the west along the top of Barnburgh Cliff, to turn north again across Marr Moor, and passing Brodsworth Wood, which lay on the east, along Lound Lane to Lound Hill, past Hampole Wood. At this point the track takes the name of Old Street and so continues until it strikes the road from Moorhouse to Hampole. It was evidently in use in 1840, as it is shown as a road on the map of that date.The modern map shows it as a footpath only.

In earlier days Lound Lane was known as Two Cross Way; and apparently part of one cross base still survives in situ, and the head is now in the Brodsworth Estate Office. In the office are also preserved certain Roman relics, which were found in Hampole Wood, at the Red House and at Mr. Howden's Lime Works. The Rev. Professor C. E. Whiting, F.S.A., says these are in poor condition and consist of a neck of an amphora, part of a cinerary urn, and a fragment of a jar of grey ware.

Part of a beehive quern, possibly British, was found, I think, in the Limestone Quarries.

Roman finds are reported at Norman Hill, east of Bilham Row, and a gold fibula was found many years ago on the Brodsworth side (east) of Old Street. This is said to be in the possession of a Mr. Marshall; formerly butler at Brodsworth Hall. Professor Whiting says he has not seen this, so we cannot claim it as either British or Roman.

In 1930, Professor Whiting made an investigation of this stretch of Old Street and a copy of his paper as now in my hands. I acknowledge, with gratitude, his is kindness in letting me make use of it.

He discovered, opposite the gate in Hampole Wood, at a depth of 6 ins., the rough surface of the 18th century road. At a depth of 2 ft. 3 ins. was found the foundation of an earlier road, consisting of cobbles, waterworn stones from elsewhere, and lumps of local limestone closely laid in marl. This was cambered, but there were no kerbs except a few stones standing edgewise on the east side.

The road was 18 ft. wide and a length of about 20 ft. was bared. On the northern edge of Hampole Wood a further section was revealed 18 ins. below the ground surface, and here the road appeared to be about 20 ft. wide. This road was about 6 ins. above the solid rock. Further along the rock rises near the surface and again the road was found very near the present ground surface.

From the junction of Old Street with the Hampole-Moorehouse Lane, the route continues in a northerly direction down Hollin Lane, across Waterfields, leaving Wrangbrook on the west and passing by Walton Wood falls into the Erming Street, today covered by the Doncaster-Castleford Road.

The length of the route, from the tumulus at Hangman's Stone to its junction with Erming Street is described on the 1840 map as a "supposed Roman-British Way."

The Ricknild Street-Roman.

Let us now turn to the Roman Ricknild Street. We left it at Beighton, where it was discovered in 1847. Codrington takes it by Aughtan and Guilthwaite, where the fragmentary remains of a British camp are still to be seen.

Eighteen years before the discovery of the Roman road at Beighton, a Mr. W. Askham, of Eckington, had written to Mr. Stephen Glover, of Derby, pointing out that on Guilthwaite Common, about four miles north of Beighton, when it was enclosed some years earlier, a square enclosure was levelled, "and", he says, "considerable quantities of spurs, stirrups, and battle axes were found by the labourers; and a pavement was exposed, into which were inserted posts, with rings attached, as if for the fastening of horses. And close to this spot an urn of blue clay was discovered in 1826, which contained many hundreds of Roman coins, chiefly of the reign of Constantine". [13]

From here Codrington traces the route by field tracks near Revel Wood, possibly along Doles Lane, through Whiston to the Hunger Hills, across Broom Valley by way of Stag Lane, down Herringthorpe Lane, now obliterated by Herringthorpe Valley Road, and onwards to Alpha Place. [14] At this latter point a small area of paved road was found in 1927 when the Herringthorpe Valley Road was made. However, this cannot be cited as real evidence, because the contractor destroyed it before it could be properly examined.

In 1946 a coin of Lucius Verus (A.D. 161-67) was found on the surface in a garden in Alpha Place, and in 1941 the base of a cooking pot (2nd century) was found at the junction of Badsley Moor Larne and Middle Lane South. This junction is less than half a mile from Alpha Place. Both these finds are now in Rotherham Museum.

This route must lead to Aldwarke, with no apparent connection from there to the north, except by a problematical line to Swinton. If this line of Codrington's is correct as far as Herringthorpe, I feel that the Street would not actually pass Alpha Place, but would swing away to the right, that is, to the east immediately after passing Herringthorpe Hall Farm and following Higgory or High Greave Lane, climb the hill to the Dalton-Brecks Lane, and then follow the trace of the old track down the steep valley, cross Dalton Brook to a lane which leads to “Old Whinney Hill", and thence to Thrybergh, which lies on the Doncaster route.

If the Street proceeded along this line it would follow the Doncaster Road until it is joined by the lane which runs into the Kilnhurst -Hooton Roberts Road, and follow this, and proceed due north to Strafford Sands at Mexborough, Where it would cross the Don and there rejoin the line of the British Ricknild Way.

But there is another route which suggests itself for the Roman Ricknild Street, and I venture to think it is the correct one.

The Street is traced exhaustively from Chesterfield by Mr. R. W. P. Cockerton in his interesting series of articles published in The Derbyshire Countryside in 1939-40, and already quoted extensively by me in this paper.

Mr. Cockerton takes it past Eckington, where there is the tradition of a Roman camp, lying to the west, marked "Site of Castle" on the 1840 map. The Street then appears to run northwards past "Streetfields", near Mosbrough, where possibly an ancient track from Sheffield fell into it.

The route then continues through Beighton village, past "Streetfields" and, if the 1840 map may be relied upon, the old trace of the road took a slightly eastward trend to pass under the old M. S. & L. Railway (now the L.N.E.R.), and at this point the 1840 map shows a junction of old tracks. It is here, perhaps, we may look for the actual commencement of the later Ricknild Street-the real Roman Road.

If one studies the one inch map (1840 edition) it becomes apparent that to arrive at this point fromEckington, the Street has, after coming through Beighton village, passed "Stratfield" on the west, and on the east the "Castle Stead" guarding the river crossing here.

If, however, we turn north up Woodhouse Lane for some quarter of a mile, until the road turns abruptly west, we shall see, marked on the 1840 map and also on the modern 6-inch Ordnance Map (Sheet No.295, S.E, ed. 1924), a small old track bearing north-east, which disappears under the L.N.E. Railway (Woodhouse Branch) some 15 chains (1,000 feet) to the north of Beighton Station.

This small track, as Mr. W. B. A. Powell, M.Inst.Mun.E., tells me, is still visible as a footpath vanishing under the railway embankment at "an oblique angle", precisely as Mr. Shortridge remarked in 1847.

Perhaps I may be permitted to quote him again: "My Foreman, William Stevens, pointed out to me a certain paved road. The road is be found a few chains to the north of Beighton Station, and passes under the embankment at a very oblique angle, about 18 inches below the surface and was discovered in cutting the inside trenches to the said embankment."

If one studies the 1854 6-inch Ordnance Map, and also the modern 6-inch Ordnance sheet it becomes obvious that this footpath must have run in a northerly direction and crossed the Shire Brook which divides Derbyshire from Yorkshire.

It continued for about 1,500 feet on this line (hidden now under the embankment) until it joined up with the trace of an old road still running parallel with the railway for 400 feet. An occupation bridge permits this road to pass under the railway, to appear again on the west side and to run along the toe of the embankment for 1,200 feet.

It then swings slightly westward to follow the line of Long Storrs Lane, now known as Junction Road, until it falls into Furnace Lane opposite the Junction Hotel. The route then appears to continue for half a mile in a northwesterly direction on the line of the road or path which runs along the west side of the embankment of the L.N.E. Railway, until it strikes the Attercliffe-Aston Road

The Street may have followed an the line of the existing main road for about a mile, bearing north-west to Dore House, or at may have continued north (hidden today by the railway) to follow the old lane to Orgreave, and then run on the line of Highfield Lane to Catcliffe. I incline to this latter route.

When I plotted this route on the 1840 and modern map, I was astonished to discover that I had traced a line almost exactly comparable with the Ricknild, Street shown on the map drawn by John Tuke in 1787, and now in the County Surveyor's Office, Wakefield.

Tuke takes his Ricknild Street over the Shire Brook, not the Rother, to carry it from Derbyshire into Yorkshire. He takes it to Templeborough through Greasbrough to Thurnscoe and on to Woodlesford. I do not think the Street actually visited the Fort at Templeborough, but we will discuss that point later.

To return to our route. We had traced the Street as far as Catcliffe. About forty years ago a small talisman inscribed with Egyptian hieroglyphs, identified by the British Museum as part of the Book of the Dead, was found in Catcliffe near Nursery Farm. Near this place tradition has it that a great battle was fought long ages ago.

From Catcliffe the modern road leads due north down Whitehill Lane to the river crossing at Canklow. Here one must study the old trace of the roads on the 1840 map to understand the route. Whitehill Lane is shown in 1840 as running slightly north-east to come directly to old Canklow Bridge (now disused), and the road ran on the west bank of the Rother and thus would have laid to the east of the railway. Today it has been diverted to run on the west of the railway, and it passes under the railway bridge to come to the modern Canklow Bridge.

The river crossing here has been in constant use from time immemorial, Mr. Copley has traced a route to it from the Iron Age settlement on the summit of Canklow Hill, and it is obvious that theBritish Fort on that hill was placed there to help defend this important crossing to the west, and a study of the old tracks in the district will show that they all make for this point to cross the Rother.

The actual bridge history does not take us further back than 1752, when a survey of bridges in the West Riding of Yorkshire was made by John Westerman and John Gott.

The plan, drawn on vellum is preserved with the "Vellum Book of Bridges" in the County Surveyor's Office, Wakefield, and it is thanks to the courtesy of the County Surveyor, Mr. H. A. Hoskins, F.S.L, M.Irist.Mun.E., that I was permitted to inspect the Map and Book under the guidance of Mr. M. H. Limb, his assistant.

It has been suggested by Mr. Copley that the interesting will of Thomas Webster of Rotherham, dated 5th April, 1490, in which it says ''. . to the makyng of a bridge called Rotherbryg 20 shillings" [15] may refer to this bridge, but I incline to think it may really refer to a bridge higher up the Rother, perhaps one on the site of the present Bow Bridge.

The old Knoucth Bridge, to give Canklow Bridge its original name, still survives within the precincts of the Rotherham Main Colliery, but is superseded for traffic by the new Canklow Bridge erected in 1927. See inset on Map B.

This digression will, I trust, make clear that here at Canklow, we have an important and ancient river crossing, Let us now proceed along what may well be the Roman Ricknild Street.

I have traced a route which must cross the Rother at this place, and I now suggest the Street followed the same line as the present Canklow Road, which leads directly, via Westgate, into Rotherham.

Westgate is one of the oldest thoroughfares in the town, and as late as the 18th century was the most exclusive suburb of Rotherham. If we follow the Street along Westgate we shall find that the route falls into the assumed Ricknild Way which has travelled down Sparken Lane. Ricknild Street would, I feel, here continue on the same line as the pre-Roman Ricknild Way, and travel down the ancient Millgate (now Corporation Street) to the river crossing of the Don.

I have already stated that the Don was fordable at this spot, and in 1927, when Chantry Bridge was built, Mr. Thomas Salvin, M.Inst.NT. & Cy.E., then Deputy Borough Engineer of Rotherham, found traces of an old ford which ran from the south side of the river on the upstream side of old Rotherham Bridge, passed under the first arch, and crossed to the downstream side on the north bank, where a paved way ran down to the water as recently as 1927. All the ancient tracks converge at this point as this was undoubtedly one of the most useful crossings of the Don between Deadman's Hole Ford at Templeborough and Strafford Sands at Mexboro'. See inset on Map B.

After crossing the Don the Street would, in my opinion, swing slightly eastward to run on the line of Rawmarsh Road, even as its predecessor the British Riknild Way had done. In support of this theory an excavation made in November, 1947, may be cited. It became necessary to dig down to the trunk water main, which here lies about 8 ft. below the present road surface. The Assistant Water Engineer, Mr. W. G. Mosses, A.M.LC.E., told me that four road surfaces appeared, the lowest at a depth of 7 ft. 2 ins., and this was made of heavily pitched sandstone surfaced to a depth of 6 1ns. with waterbound material which had set to an incredible hardness.

At this point in Rawmarsh Road, opposite the Transport Depot, the road is liable to mining subsidence, and so much re-surfacing and building up may be expected, but this !lowest road was laid on the original ground surface. It was not practicable to extend the excavation to determine the width of the road and so our evidence rests incomplete, except to prove the great age of the route to Rawmarsh, a fact borne out by the will of Thomas Webster, already quoted. He says ". . . to the making of the King's Highway between Rotherham and Rawmarsh 20 shillings"; also Henry Carnebull, Archdeacon of York, in his will dated July, 1512, left "xxili xiiis iiiid to be delivered to the factors of Rawmarsh causey which is sore decaide".[16]

Following this route north we shall pass through Rativmarsh, leaving Aldwarke on the east.

From Rawmarsh the trace of any Roman road is under the modern highway to Swinton, and continuing north the Street would cut the lower line of the earthworks known as the "Roman Ridges" which travel from Wincobank Hill, near Sheffield, to Mexborough. These two great linear earthworks are a study on their own, but do not concern us now except inasmuch as the Street will cross both lines of Ridges in its journey north.

Following the Street on the 1840 one-inch Ordnance map, the line appears to swing east at the Woodman Inn, and then proceed along Rockingham Road to pass Swinton town on its western side. Rockingham Road was formerly known as Pottery Lane, and in 1833 a hoard of coins was found here, ranging from Nero to Caracalla (A.D. 69 - 317).

The Street seems to continue in a direct line north to Stocking Hill, where a side road branches off to the north-east to Adwick-upon-Dearne, through Hurlington, where it turns due east to fall into the old Ricknild Way near Hangman's Stone, and thence to proceed to Castleford.

Codrington takes his Ricknild Street to Woodlesford, basing his theory on Warburton's map, a view shared by Tuke an his map of 1787, to which I have already referred.

If one accepts Woodlesford as the destination of Ricknild Street the route might follow the line I have previously described as far as the Woodman Inn and then turn N.N.E. past Swinton, in which case it continued in this direction for about half a mile to Golden Smithies Wood.

From this point I feel that the line of the Street is indicated by the parish boundary running north to Upper Mill, near Wath-upon- Dearne, where we have an obviously early crossing of the Dearne.

The Street then seems to follow the line of the lane travelling north for half a mile to the Bridle Road marked on the 1840 map. It then turned east along the Bridle Road into Bolton-upon-Dearne, from whence it ran due north to Highgate on the Doncaster-Barnsley Road.

Crossing the main road at this point the trace of the Roman road may continue along the field footpath gassing Thurnscoe Hall on the west, to continue north through the town, crossing the Thurnscoe-Hickleton Road to follow the tracks, shown as a footpath on the modern one-inch map, and as a lane on the 1840 edition, past Low Grange to Clayton. The 1840 map shows an old lane running due north to cross the Howell (Holy Well) Beck. This -dies away, but a modern footpath on almost the same line crosses to Stocking Street half a mile south-west of South Kirkby, then runs north across The Green.

From here the route is indicated by Hague Lane, which bears north-west to cross Town Moor to enter Hemsworth from the south.

At this point I find myself joining a route already traversed by Dr. Henry Payne and Mr. Hugh Burland in or about 1870. They were in search of Ricknild Street and had travelled to this point through Great Houghton on a route from Greasbrough, near Rotherham.

In passing, I may say that Tuke in 1787 took his Ricknild Street through Greasbrough on its way from Templeborough. I do not think this is correct, but there is an ancient route via Greasbrough which we might examine, and which diverges from the line I have just described at a point just past the Don crossing (at Rotherham Bridge) and would proceed northward along Greasbrough Lane for some quarter of a mile, turn north-west until it came to the junction of Primrose Hill, continue up this short, steep and once lovely hill, to run along Ginhouse Lane, past Bassingthorpe Farm, mentioned in the will of Archdeacon Carnebull (July, 1512) already referred to.

About half a mile northwest of Bassingthorpe the lane falls into Munsbrough Lane and the route swings north-east to fall into the main road and run almost due north to Nether Haugh, where it crosses the southern line of the Roman Ridges and turns westward through the hamlet, and continues north up Stubbin Lane.

The line of the route crosses Wentworth Road and about a quarter of a mile brings us to a side road which turns off at Birchcliffe Bank, crosses the northern line of the Roman Ridges, and proceeds north ward to Wath-upon-Dearne, where it swings east to the ford at Upper Mill and joins the Bolton-upon-Dearne -Thurnscoe route already described.

However, at Birchcliffe, the route may actually have continued north (and this is the route travelled by Dr. Payne and Mr. Burland) along the road formerly known as Pack Road for two miles to Brampton Bull's Head, an ancient and important road junction.

Here the line turns north-cast along Broom Hill for two miles to leave Darfield an the westward, and to cross the Doncaster-Barnsley Road.

In 1680 Abram de la Pryme tells us in his diary that an urn was found here containing many Roman coins, some of which were gold.[17]

In January, 1946, 491 Roman coins were found in a jar during building operations at North Street, Darfield. 418 of these are now in the City Museum, Sheffield, 33 in the British Museum, and 30 in the Darfield School Museum.[18] The coins range from Mark Antony (32-31 B.C.) to Maximinus (A.D. 235-238).

After crossing the Doncaster-Barnsley Road the route takes us up "Street Lane," a fact noted by Messrs. Payne and Burland.[19]

In common with them, let us wend our way up Hargate Hill over Brierley Common, South Moor, and Whin Hill directly to Hemsworth, where the line suggested from Thurnscoe joins our present line of march at the junction of Town Moor.

It appears from the 1840 map that the route followed by the Street was through Hemsworth village and out northwards along "Lady's Walk," over Kinsley Common to Wragby.

At Wragby two routes present themselves for our consideration. One will take the Street through Nostell Park, passing Prior's Wood an its east side and, emerging from the Park, continue north along the road which crosses Huntwick Whin to Ackton, and then run north by east into the Castleford Road. The line would then be along the present road turning eastward into Castleford to join the Erming Street at the crossing of the Calder.

The other route from Wragby is to skirt Nostell Park on the south-west boundary and to turn off the Wakefield-Wragby Road, and to follow the trace, of an old track shown in 1840 as passing through Sharlstone, bear westward for a quarter of a mile, then turn northwest to cross the Pontefract-Wakefield Road known formerly as "Roman Road."

Ricknild Street would cross "Roman Road" at a place marked High Street, and proceed over The Green, passing Warmfield on the east. The Street may have turned almost due north to Ellin Trees Field, passed Foxholes, turned west to cross the river near the modern ferry and run due north to Hollin Hall along the road which skirts Methley Park on the west and falls into the Methley-0ulton Road to Woodlesford.

I have based my route on the 1840 one inch Ordnance Map, being led to make for Woodlesford by the discovery of the old map by Tuke, dated 1787, now in the County Surveyor's Office, Wakefield, and already referred to.

This map shows the line of Ricknild Street from Beighton through Templeborough, Greasbrough, Thurnscoe, to Woodlesford. I do not agree with Tuke that the Street came by Templeborough, but I do feel that the Woodlesford route is tolerably accurate if we accept the theory that the Street came through Rotherham


My contention that the Street probably followed the line I have traced is based on the importance of the Don crossing at Rotherham Bridge, and the Rother crossing at Canklow, and the position of the Fort at Templeborough, which, lying on the south bank of the Don, assumed to be the frontier line of the Brigantes; dominating the British crossings of the Don at Deadman's Hole and of the Rother at Canklow, was in proximity to the old Ricknild Way, as Mr. May pointed out.

The road found by Mr. May in 1918 ran in a south-easterly direction from the South Gate of the Fort, and a possible extension of this over Brinsworth Common was found in 1947 by Mr: Wakelin, Mr Salvin and myself. Its apparent direction is towards White Hill, from whence it would continue south-east to fall into the route I have traced and dubbed Ricknild Street.

At first, I feel, the Romans used the Ricknild Way on their journey north, but at an early date made a new route from the Canklow crossing to the Don crossing at Rotherham, and thus our Westgate came into being. Later, perhaps after the Erming Street was constructed, they decided to take the Woodlesford route to the north, making a new trunk road, in some places wholly new, in others improving and linking up old tracks. If this is so, the route I have shown might perhaps be more aptly described as the "New Ricknild Street."

If we_ accept this theory, and it is only a theory, we shall see that the "New" Ricknild Street and the more ancient Way came together at Boroughbridge and then continued north on the line of Leeming Lane; and we shall also realize that the road from Swinton running past Adwick Lodge, along Stocking Lane, through Adwick-uponDearne and Hurlington, was an important side road linking up the "New" Street with the Romanised Ricknild Way.

Also, this Woodlesford route severs the two lines of the so-called Roman Ridges near Birchcliffe Wood and Golden Smithies Wood and thus suggests that this route was taken after the subjugation of the Brigantes in A.D. 158.

My information and maps cease at Woodlesford, so I do not try to show the whole Street which would take us to the Tyne. I have used ancient tracks, many now completely lost to us since 1840 and I have followed those which show some reasonable antiquity by name, or which pass either tumuli or ancient earthworks. I have also carefully noted all "finds" adjacent to the roads described.

In conclusion, I must thank my dear friend, Mr: T. Salvin of Rotherham, for his kindly help in reading and discussing these routes. He does not, I fear, wholly agree with me, but in part his own theories seem to corroborate my ideas. Also, to my other valued friend, Mr. H. A. Copley, I give thanks for the loan of his photographs of old maps, and his good counsel. I am also grateful to Mr. R. Taylor of Sheffield for his assistance with the Railway history at Beighton, upon which so much depends.


[1] Guest, Historic Notices of Rotherham, p. 604.

[2] Freemantle: Templeborough; a Roman Fort, p, 33.

[ 3] Freemantle, Templeborough, pp, 33-4

[4] D. Rilkin; Leges Edwardi Regis, p. 190:

[5] Codrington, Roman Roads in Britain, p. 31;

[6] R. W. P. Cockerton; "Roman Streets in Derbyshire", The Derbyshire Countryside No33, p. 23.

[7] Codrington, Roman Roads in Britain, p. 31.

[8] R. W. P, Cockerton, "Roman Streets in Derbyshire", The Derbyshire Countryside No 33, p. 23:

[9] Guest, Historic Notices of Rotherham, p: 605.

[10] May, Roman Forts at Templeborough; p. 5:

[11] Guest; Historic Notices o{ Rotherham, p: 381:

[12] Freemantle, Templeborough p. 119.

[13] R.W. P. Cockerton, "Roman Streets of Derbyshire", The Derbyshire Countryside, No. 34, p. 43.

[14] Codrington, Roman Roads in Britain, p. 280.

[15] Guest, Historic Notices of Rotherham, p. 37.

[16] York Registry (Reg. Test. VIII, 123a).

[17] Hunter, South Yorkshire, Vol. II, p. 104.

[18] "Roman Yorkshire": Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, part 145, pp, 117-8.

[19] Guest, Historic Notices of Rotherham, p. 614.

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Get some maps Bayleaf.

I got them from Stuart0742 about 6 years ago, I think they are from some publication called "The Sheffield to Derby turnpike".

We were interested in this at the time as it passes through Norton and some of our ancestors lived in the vicinity.

How do these maps match up to your proposed route through Sheffield?

Unfortunately, due to the publications coverage and title, we only have maps to the south of the City and into Derbyshire.

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Map 2

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Map 3

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Map 4

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Map 5

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Map 6

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Map 7

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Thanks for this Bayleaf; and thanks again to the society for allowing you to post these articles here. I'm sitting pouring over maps as I read it.

I really want a time machine... so if anyone has one going spare please PM me.


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Thanks for this Bayleaf; and thanks again to the society for allowing you to post these articles here. I'm sitting pouring over maps as I read it.

I really want a time machine... so if anyone has one going spare please PM me.


Here you go Jeremy ;-)


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Thanks Dunsbyowl,

That Sheffield time machine is quite a nice little site.

I have not come across it before but it has clearly been around for quite a while as it states in the site requirements for operating system

"Windows 95 / 98, will not work under 3.x"

So that dates it a bit, - but at least it will run well on practically everybody's computer.

Is there a link to it in the Sheffield Websites section?

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Thanks Dunsbyowl. But I'm not sure that that time machine can go earlier than the 1850s :-)

I remember the library releasing that CD-ROM way back in the day; do they really still sell it?


Looks like it ! I've got a copy it's quite good really :)

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Hi, I'm looking for informations about the roman "Rickni(e)ld Street" for a study about the viability in roman age in the Sheffield (Templeborough area).

Really, my reaserches are finalized to the area from Templeborough and Conisborough and the informations on-line about Ricknield unfortunately are very poor... :(

This discussion so is very very interesting to me... :D

I have few question for you... :)

Ivan Margary in his "Roman roads in Britain" numbered the "Ricknield" (later "Packman Lane" after the XVII.th century) as # 18.

Before of its arriving in Templeborough it became 2 differents routes, crossing another orizontal road (# 180): the first with destination Templeborough (18 e) and the second to Conisborough (18 ee) (passing through Ravensfield, Conisbrorough, the River Don, Adwick Upon Dearne and so on...).

Is this correct? This discussion talks about the 18e (Templeborough), is it right? And somebody knows the name of the nr.180?

Thanks for your attention and, I hope, for your help!!!! :D



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