Historic Roman road gets legal protection

Pictured are David & Margaret Thomas
Pictured are David & Margaret Thomas
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Most drivers in the district will know the A5 and its 
origins as a Roman road.

But far fewer will know that a stretch of the original road, dating back nearly 2,000 years, still exists, and after a campaign by two Crick residents, it has just been given Scheduled Ancient Monument Status.

David and Margaret Thomas succeeded in getting the designation after two years of talking with English Heritage.

Mr Thomas said: “I grew up in Crick and back then when there were fewer cars, lots of villagers used to go down and walk along the lane.

“I moved away, and returned in 2006 with my wife Margaret who is from Rugby.

“We saw DIRFT had appeared and was growing, but this lane was still there.

“Then a couple of years ago an application was made to put up wind turbines in a field next to the Roman road, and we started asking questions about what protection this ancient road had. As it turned out it was very little.”

Mrs Thomas said: “We spent time gathering evidence and filled in forms, and sent it all off to English Heritage, and then it went quiet. We didn’t hear anything for a long time.

Mr Thomas said: “Then at the end of May we got a letter saying our application had been successful!

“It’s good news too because every time we go along the path you can see where people have been riding off-road bikes, or where people have tried to level the road surface, which is now all illegal.”

The section designated is 2.5km long (around 1.5 miles), and from DIRFT, running east of the large Tesco warehouse and continuing the line of the old Watling Street from the A5. It ends just before the Northampton loop of the rail line goes under the M1.

A ‘RARE’ AND ‘SIGNIFICANT’ ROAD

The official document from English Heritage says the stretch of Roman road was designated for five reasons.

First, it say overall the major elements of the road survive well, with a defined bank, sections of ditches and the metalled surface. Excavations have provided evidence of road construction methods used by the Romans.

Second, English Heritage says: “This section of Watling street represents a significant stretch of one of the major Roman roads linking important towns, nationally and locally.”

Third, the document says the fact the rest of Watling Street now lies under the A5 and A2 means this long stretch of road in a relatively good state is ‘quite rare’.

Fourth, they say the monument retains ‘highly significant archaeological evidence’.

And finally they say there is a good archive of documents for the site, and the work done on it.

In places the road is 19 metres wide, with a flat carriageway of up to 5 metres. One archaeologist in 1978 even suggested a road running parallel to the main surface for part of the protected stretch provided evidence for that part of the original Roman road potentially being a three-lane highway.