The Roman Road from Papcastle to Ravenglass, Margary 75

A puzzling road with uncertain sections and Lidar has so far been unable to answer all the problems so still work in progress. There is an annoying gap in the Lidar coverage south of Papcastle which has not helped matters but even where there is data available the route is proving remarkably elusive.

What is certain are the two alignments north of Cleator - they are as clear as can be in the Lidar images.


There has been much speculation over the years as to where this road was heading - several suggestions for a lost Roman site at Beckermet. I could find nothing supporting this and in reality Ravenglass is the only logical destination.



Papcastle - Road Map and Lidar Image

The Roman road map is derived from Roman Papcastle by Eric Apperley, modified slightly in accordance with what is visible on the Lidar image.

Our road leaves the south gateway of the fort but it appears that the road from Old Carlisle bypasses the fort and headed to join it for the bridge crossing too.

South of the bridge there are two traces of the beginning of our road, which appear to share the alignment of the road from Old Carlisle.

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Lidar + Aerial - Tendley Hill

The gap in the Lidar data has made working out the route across Tendley Hill very subjective.

Climbing up to the Hill, there are indications of possibly two alternatives (see map below).

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Lidar aerial

Route Map - Tendley Hill

It would seem likely Tendley Hill would be used for setting out the road. Quarrying has just about destroyed much here but it must have been the dominant hill hereabouts in Roman times - too good not to use. The stretch from Ullock and the road from Papcastle both seem to have been set out from it.

The dog-leg arrangement could indicate that the road to Ravenglass was actually a branch off a south-easterly bound road but more work is needed.

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Lidar Image - Ullock to Scallow

Very clear in the Lidar data. Strange though how the evidence suddenly stops at the north end.

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Lidar Image - Scallow to Cleator Moor

This is where we get a big turn towards Cleator and Egremont

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3D Lidar Image - Scallow Corner

The actual corner has been destroyed by quarrying.

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3D lidar

Route Map - Ullock to Cleator Moor

This stretch has survived well and is clearly visible in the Lidar images. Why the road turned for Cleator is a bit of a puzzle - I would have expected it to carry straight on and gone via Ennerdale Bridge but it obviously did not.

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Lidar Image and Route Map - Cleator to Egremont

This is last trace I could find in the Lidar data heading to the bridge at Dub Beck.

The overall direction would seem to imply the Roman road would be crossing the River Ehen at or very near the current crossing in Egremont, which is presumably the best bridging point.

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Lidar Map

Route Map - Egremont

Very much intelligent(?) guess work assuming that the crossing of Dub Beck and the River Ehen date back to Roman times.

From Thornhill it is likely the modern road overlies the Roman road at least to Street Bridge (see below) and perhaps further.

Note: a possible reason for this road heading south-west past Cleator, rather than taking a short cut via Ennerdale Bridge to Ravenglass, could be that it came down to Woodend to join a road from Moresby to Ravenglass. See the "possible" roads web page.

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OS First Edition Map - Street Bridge

The only real clue we have to go on for this stretch of the road.

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Old Map

Lidar Image - Street Bridge

There has long been speculation about a lost Roman site near Beckermet. Castle Earthworks visible in the Lidar image is certainly not it! However, locating a (medieval?) castle close to a Roman road could be a clue to our road being hereabouts.

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OS 1-inch First Edition Map - Possible Route

Beyond Street Bridge Lidar does not offer much help so this is just really speculation!

Where Lidar shows nothing then it can be a case that modern roads overlie the Roman line. I have therefore assumed it possibly went via Gosforth and what is now the A595 masks its course.

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Lidar Image - Ravenglass to the North

There are some possible Lidar traces north of the River Mite but not ones that I would regard as high confidence. This route is somewhat west of the A595 and would imply a different route to Street Bridge.

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A "Road of two Halves!" From Papcastle to Cleator there is clear Lidar evidence for the route but south of Street Bridge then it is still "work in progress".

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Last update January 2018

© David Ratledge