Lancs Roman Roads

The Roman Road from Manchester to Melandra Castle

Margary Number: 711

Distance: 11.7 miles

It must be said that no part of this road has ever been found let alone excavated! Yet one must have existed and consequently what is plotted below should be regarded as a "best guess". Even Ivan Margary got totally confused about this road. He plotted it on his maps but went on to describe a road from Melandra towards Oldham! The Ordnance Survey have thrown their hat into the ring by showing, on their current maps, Hyde New Road (A57) as the Roman Road line.

Two routes are shown as far as Hyde. The first is based on that suggested by Dr. Michael Nevell (reference: Tameside before 1066). The second is derived from that shown of modern Ordnance Survey mapping. East of Hyde neither has a route. The course I have shown for that stretch is based on the currently available Lidar data but it must be pointed out that even this is low confidence - it is not definite. Hence we have a road shown dotted all the way with two western options!

Note: Melandra is modern name for the fort and its Roman name was possibly Ardotalia.

For a set of detailed route maps see the bottom of this page.



Historic Counties: Lancashire, Cheshire & Derbyshire

Current County: Greater Manchester & Derbyshire

HER: Greater Manchester & Derbyshire


Click for full size map


Manchester Roman Road Map

The old course of the River Medlock is probably the defining feature and establishing where it was bridged for the road to Melandra.

For "Nevell's Route" I have assumed that Ashton Old Road uses the original Roman Bridge site - just on the basis that it is still in use today. Heading east, Nevell suggested the Roman line was just north of Ashton Old Road aiming for Old Lane, Openshaw. Joining the Medlock bridge site to Old Lane gives us a reasonable hypothesis for the start of this route to Melandra.

Note: the courses the rivers Irwell and Medlock are taken from the OS first edition map of 1845.


Click for larger view



OS First Edition map - River medlock to Old Lane

The route suggested by Nevell is just north of Ashton Old Road as far as Lime Tree Cottage, Openshaw. Between the Medlock and Old Lane there is not much evidence on the first edition map supporting this which is somewhat concerning. Field boundaries too ignore this line. My own guess would have been to ignore Old Lane and assume that Ashton Old Road itself was the Roman line.

Click for larger view
Old Lane

Lidar Image - Possible Route at Gorton Reservoir

Beyond, Old Lane then Nevell has the road turning south-eastwards in the direction of Broomstair Bridge over the River Tame. To get there it would have to negotiate a river valley where Gorton Reservoir now is. Perhaps there are signs here of a possible route adapting to the slopes around the reservoir.

Click for larger view

gorton res

OS First Edition Map - Causeway Field & Broomstair Bridge

Broomstair Bridge over the River Tame is where the two route options join up (see neat map for the OS route). On the northern ("Nevell") route there is a short length of a town/parish boundary that does align reasonably well. Other than that then the old field boundaries again ignore this option.

The name Causeway Field is perhaps the best clues here but its direction, just about at right angles to both routes, is a bit suspect. Its position would not rule out either route.

A Roman coin of Commodus (AD180-93) was found under Broomstair Bridge (ref: Nevell).

Click for larger view
causeway field

Ordnance Survey Route using the A57 Hyde New Road

A study of the first edition OS map of Hyde New Road - an 1818 Turnpike - shows that all the field boundaries on either side of it totally ignore it. If this was based on an existing Roman line then at least some of the field boundaries should have respected it? This has been used to cast significant doubt on this route (ref: Nevell). However the recently discovered road from Ribchester to Catterall exhibits similar properties with field boundaries ignoring it. So perhaps we should not totally rule out this route - it very direct after all. so I have kept the options open.

One name I did notice on this map directly on the line is "York Street" at Gorton - however as the road goes to Derbyshire this is probably just a coincidence.

2018 Update: The Ordnance Survey file (RRX090) for this road has recently been made available. The evidence for this being the Roman line is based on an Ordnance Survey Map marking it as "Roman Road" - a somewhat circular argument. No other evidence for it is provided.

Click for larger view


OS new road

Lidar Image - Hyde to Hattersley

We are now on our own for the route east of Broomstair Bridge. Adopting the old road through Hyde and Godley seems logical. The modern road swings off to the north after Godley Station but the old line carried straight on to Hattersley.

Click for larger view

Lidar Image - Hattersley to Melandra Castle

There are some indications on the first edition map of a possible line where there is currently a gap in the Lidar data. This matches a possible route from Warhill over the high ground towards the Hague and then the fort. There are clearer traces of a road approaching the fort from the south.

Click for larger view

3D Oblique Lidar Image - Melandra Castle

Viewed from the north, the fort shows up extremely well but it would appear in the recent past there has been "remodeling" so perhaps not quite original.

There are indications of the Manchester road approaching from the right up to the fort. Also visible is a road heading left (north-east) for the Longdendale Valley.

For details of the fort site see - Glossop Heritage Trust

Click for larger view
3D Lidar

Detailed Route Maps

Route Map 1 - Manchester to Openshaw ("Nevell's Route")

Route Map 2 - Openshaw to Hyde ("Nevell's Route")

Route Map 3 - Manchester to Broomstair Bridge, Hyde (OS Route)

Route Map 4 - Hyde to Melandra


Click for larger view



OS route


Back to homepage

Last update: April 2018

© David Ratledge