The Roman Monuments in the City of York
(The Normal National Grid References are in 100-kilometre square SE and are distinguished by the letters N.G.)
The Roman road system of which York, EBVRACVM, was the centre is described in general terms in the
Introduction (see p. xxx). The following entries, Nos. 1–11, include reasoned accounts of the course of the
individual roads and detailed descriptions of their remains, beginning in each entry at or near the modern
city boundary and proceeding inwards to the centre of York as far as the bounds of the fortress (Fig. 2).
For clarity the designations Road 1, Road 2, etc., are used throughout the Inventory in preference to
Monument 1, Monument 2, etc. The streets within the fortress (Monument 12) and the fortified enclosure
(Monument 13) and the minor streets within the built-up area of the civilian settlement are described
under those heads, those in the fortress under their Roman names, those in the civil town (colonia) under
Monument 17 (a–d); other minor remains are included under Monuments 38, 39, 44.
Road 1, approaching York from the S.E., is last known
650 yds. S.E. of the city boundary. From Pool Bridge (N.G.
642462) to Germany Beck (N.G. 622494) the line of it is
represented by a parish boundary running straight for 23/8 m. and
aligned upon where the S.E. gate of the fortress stood. This line
produced crosses the city boundary about 70 yds. E. of the
junction between Mitchel's Lane and Heslington Lane (N.G.
618499) and joins Road 2 E. of the river Foss.
Road 2, approaching York from the E., eventually from
Brough, PETVARIA, and the Humber crossing, and from the E.
coast via Stamford Bridge, joins the city boundary along the
Hull Road, W. of Gallows Hole (N.G. 630513). Short of the
boundary it is visible as a soil mark S. of the Hull Road on an
R.A.F. air-photograph (1/5000–58/899, prints 5252–3) from
N.G. 631513 to N.G. 633512. Within the city boundary its
course lay mainly just N. of the Hull Road, converging again
on the modern road in Lawrence Street. Here in 1954 the road
was seen 6 ft. below the modern surface in a sewer trench
300 ft. from Walmgate Bar on the N. side of the street
(N.G. 61175139); it was composed of cobbles set in clay. Nearer
the Bar it was seen in 1915 (G. Benson, York II, 162) 5 ft. deep.
This road is usually said to have turned northwards at or near
where Walmgate Bar now is and made direct for the S.E. gate
of the fortress (King's Square). This may have been the course
at one period, but the road has not been found on this line and
there is evidence for another course. The alternative is that the
road continued on the E.-W. alignment to a crossing of the
Foss (behind the Castle Museum), then turned N.W. (through
Castle Yard) to pass in front of the S.W. side of the fortress to
the S.W. gate and the main Ouse crossing; that is, in terms of
modern topography, it followed approximately the line of
Castlegate, Spurriergate and Coney Street. In 1959 a cambered
Roman road was found in Spurriergate (N.G. 603517) on this
line, 25 ft. to 30 ft. wide and composed of limestone chippings
and gravel 3 ft. thick (see Monument 39). On the S.W. side,
but in the road material, was a water main consisting of timber
pipes jointed with iron collars; one of these last survived and
with it was a cooking pot of the 2nd-early 3rd century. The
road overlay a building with cobble foundations for the outer
walls and timber party-walls (Monument 39(i). Plate 25.
Fig. 49); it had therefore clearly been constructed anew on this
site, but while seemingly there must have been an earlier road
in from Brough no trace of it has been found nearby to the
N.E.; close S.W. the ground has not been examined, thus, if it
did not follow a completely different line, it may have lain here.
Road 3, approaching York from the E., from the direction
of Stamford Bridge, direct from Gate Helmsley via Brockfield
and Turkers Wood (N.G. 655546), where there are clear indications of it on the ground surface in the form of a ridge, was
verified by excavation in 1959 N. of Appletree Farm, about
½ m. outside the city boundary (N.G. 632531) (JRS, L(1960),
219). Its course within the city is not known. The last known
alignment would cross the boundary E. of Hempland Lane
near N.G. 623530. The road may then have continued to join
Road 4 in Heworth Green (Stockton Lane end) or turned S. to
pass alongside the fortress and join Road 2 near Ousegate.
Road 4, approaching York from the N.E., possibly from
Malton, DERVENTIO, may, in modern topographical terms,
have crossed the city boundary with Stockton Lane (N.G.
625533). The early 18th-century road from Malton following
the line of the present Stockton Lane was believed by F. Drake
(Eboracum (1736), 36) to follow the course of a Roman road.
This is a likely line but awaits proof. Within the city it would
pass S. of Stockton Lane, with a change of alignment near
Whitby Avenue, to converge on the Lane near its junction with
Heworth Green. Here in Stockton Lane a cobbled causeway
was found 2 ft. to 3 ft. deep in 1926; but it was only 9 ft. wide.
Heworth Green, aligned on where the N.E. gate of the fortress
stood, represents the Roman line. After crossing Monk Bridge,
the modern road, Monkgate, bears S. to Monk Bar. Three
finds of the Roman road, listed below, though not exactly
sited, are described in terms consistent with their being on the
continuation of the line of Heworth Green. G. Benson (York I
(1911), 79) records a buried road 6 ft. deep in Monkgate, F.
Drake (Eboracum, 37) a firm stone causeway 8 ft. deep N. of
Monkgate, C. Wellbeloved (Eburacum (1842), 54) a paved road
near the N.E. gate of the fortress. The finds, if they all belong
to the same road, can only be reconciled with a line from
the N.E. gate converging on Monkgate near Monk Bridge.
Road 5, from the N.W., enters the city at a point 275 ft. S.
of Shipton Road (N.G. 588533). Its course from the lane at the
back of the Homestead Gardens to Water End (N.G. 58955315
to N.G. 59135291) was formerly marked by a parish boundary,
now obsolete (see 60 ins. O.S. (1853), Sheet 4) but the laying
out of the Gardens has obliterated both road and boundary. Opposite the entrance to the Gardens in Water End the
road was exposed in 1893 in a sewer trench at a depth of 1½ ft.
(O.S., Object Namebook, Sheet 174 N.W. plan 6, 137); it was
24 ft. wide. S.E. of Water End the road was marked by another
parish boundary, now also obsolete and represented by the
boundary between the grounds of Clifton Croft and the back
gardens of houses in Westminster Road; this continued the
original alignment for 175 ft., then, after a slight change of
direction at the N. end of the outbuildings of Clifton Croft
(N.G. 59145288), it marked the road for another 690 ft. to N.G.
593527. Some 770 ft. further S.E. on the same alignment the
road was found in 1954 in a position 26 ft. N.E. of St. Peter's
School Swimming Baths (N.G. 59455256); it was composed of
cobbles and clay and approximately 25 ft. wide (YPSR (1954),
13–8). Prolongation of the line would pass through the gateway of St. Mary's Abbey; according to a 13th-century document quoted by T. Widdrington (Analecta Eboracensia (ed. C.
Caine, 1897), 121–2), the abbey grounds included the site of an
ancient street. The road was clearly designed to pass in front of
the fortress, to the S.W. gate and the river crossing before it.
Fig. 2. For cartographical setting, see MAP in pocket at end of book.
Road 6 linked Road 5 with the N.W. gate of the fortress.
It probably left Road 5 near to Clifton Croft. 'Concrete'
foundations found in 1893 in the Bur Dyke (N.G. 593528), 250 ft.
N. of The Avenue, may belong to it. In 1954, in a drainage ditch
that cut the road obliquely 70 ft. W. of St. Olave's School (N.G.
595527), it was found to have a basis of heavy cobbles and to
have been repaired and widened with building rubble including painted plaster. In relation to modern topography, the road
reached Bootham opposite Bootham Terrace (N.G. 598525)
where it changed alignment to follow the modern road-line to
the N.W. gate of the fortress. During excavation for a sewer in
1893 the road was found at three points: opposite Bootham
Terrace the trench cut the road obliquely at the point where it
changed direction, thus the width of 33 ft. recorded here is probably generous; opposite St. Mary's Abbey (N.G. 599524) and
90 ft. S.E. of Marygate (N.G. 600523) its N.E. edge was exposed at depths of 6 ft. and 5 ft. respectively, these positions
being 20 ft. and 17 ft. respectively S.W. of the modern
building-line on the N.E. side of Bootham. The edge was
strengthened with piles 3½ ft. long. (O.S., Object Namebook,
Sheet 174 N.W. plan 6, 137. References relating to 1/500 O.S.
plan 6.14 are lost, but see trace of 1/500 O.S. record plan in
the archives of the Yorkshire Museum.)
Road 7 preceded Road 5 on a direct alignment on the N.W.
gate from a point well outside the modern city boundary.
Evidence for it exists in the obsolete parish boundaries formerly
running along Clifton and in a find in 1929 of road-metalling
near the fountain on Clifton Green (N.G. 59325302) (O.S.,
Object Namebook, Sheet 174 N.W. plan 6, 137, note a) and in
April 1960 in front of the White House, Clifton (N.G. 59685262).
Road 8 (minor) approached the colonia from the N.W.,
S.W. of the river. It was found in 1874, in Station Road, 20 yds.
to 30 yds. S. of the Cholera Burial Ground (N.G. 59685175).
Only 30 yds. of the road were revealed, running in a direction
described as a prolongation of Barker and Trinity Lancs, that
is, N.W. It was 12 ft. wide, well made of stones, lime, gravel
and 'concrete'. On either side were several blocks of wrought
stone of uncertain purpose. The road was outside the built-up
area of the colonia and ran through a cemetery, to which it may
have been an access road (see Burials, IV Region). (J. Raine's
Notes in York Public Library, 8; YPS Comms. (1875), 5.)
Road 9, approaching York from the N.W., from Aldborough, ISVRIVM, though last visible as a ridge at the crossing
of the river Nidd 8 m. from York, is represented by the modern
road A 59 to Foss Bridge and thence S.E. by the service road
in front of Burland House to a point 1 m. N.W. of the modern
city boundary. Then its course is lost for some two miles. From
the Nidd crossing the alignment is consistent on the high
ground known as Severus Hills, and here the road is represented by the hedgerow running approximately N.W.-S.E. for
133 yds. on a sharp lynchet from a point 58 yds. S. of the
reservoir (N.G. 58015175). Most of the road itself has been
destroyed by ploughing in the field on the S.W. or lower side
of the lynchet, but in October 1960 the N.E. edge was exposed
intact in the lynchet bank; this consisted of a metalling of
heavy cobbles cutting into natural clay. Thence the course is in
doubt until just outside the built-up area of the colonia, that is,
in modern terms, in Blossom Street, behind the Grill Café
(N.G. 59655141), where its point of junction with Road 10 was
excavated in 1953–4 (Fig. 51). Here it was 35 ft. wide with a
ditch on each side and made of clay and cobbles, which sealed a
ditch that had been in use until A.D. 180. It approached Road
10 at an acute angle, finally turning 45° to meet it. In the angle
was a small cobbled area in which, carefully placed, was a stone
base, probably for an altar. (YA and YAS Procs. (1953–4,) 12.)
See also Inscriptions etc., No. 144.
Road 10, approaching York from the S.W. from Tadcaster, CALCARIA, crosses the modern city boundary with the
present Tadcaster Road S. of the junction of the latter with
Sim Balk Lane (N.G. 581483) and the two are coincident as far
as the Methodist Chapel, Dringhouses (N.G. 586495). Here
they diverge, the modern road making a slight bow to the E.
The Roman road continued on its old alignment; as far as the
site of the former White House (N.G. 591506: the name is
perpetuated in modern street-names on the site) it lies just W.
of the modern road. On this line it was found in 1902 in St.
Helen's Road (N.G. 587497) (YPSR (1903), 10), and in 1953
part of its cobbling and the ditch on the S.E. side were seen
during the building of No. 278 Tadcaster Road (YA and YAS
Procs. (1953–4), 10). At the former White House the modern
road curves E. to pass the city walls at Micklegate Bar. A
similar change in alignment must have been made by the
Roman road, though whether this occurred in the same zone is
uncertain for the exact line of it is not known for more than
½ m. N.E. from the former White House. In 1879 it was found,
composed of cobbles laid on 'concrete', N.W. of Blossom
Street, under No. 1 The Crescent (N.G. 59585132). On the
opposite side of The Crescent it was again seen in 1936 during
the building of the Odeon Cinema (N.G. 596514). In 1953 the
road was sectioned 40 yds. N.E. of the Odeon, behind the Grill
Café (N.G. 59655141); it was 30 ft. wide and consisted of a
basis of clay and cobbles dug into the subsoil with two further
layers of carefully laid cobbles above; a cremation in a pot of
rusticated ware of c. 80 A.D. alongside suggested that the road
dated from the earlier years of the Roman occupation of York
(see Burials, IV Region, (k), ii). The positions of these three
discoveries fix the alignment of the road from Blossom Street
to the river Ouse; the road crossed where the mediaeval wall
stands some 130 ft. N.W. of Micklegate Bar (N.G. 597515),
passed S. of Toft Green, crossed Tanner Row diagonally a
little W. of Rougier Street (N.G. 599517), where it was found
in the 19th century (60 ins. O.S. (1853), Sheet 11), passed under
the Ebor Café and reached the river opposite the Guildhall
where in 1893 the head of the Roman bridge, consisting of
'masses of the strongest stonework', was discovered (YPSR
(1893), 8). On the N.E. bank of the river the pavement of the road
leading to the S.W. gate of the fortress has been found several
times. The junction with Road 2 from Brough, PETVARIA, and
Road 5 from the N.W. lay outside the fortress, between the river
and the gate. (YA and YAS Procs. (1953–4), 24–31, 57–61.)
Road 11 (minor) joined Road 10 from the W. in or near
Dalton Terrace. Finds of cobbling in a former market garden
behind Mount School (N.G. 592511) and in Dalton Terrace
(N.G. 593511) possibly indicate a road, about 10 ft. wide
(YAJ, XXXIX (1958), 289, 305).