University of Portsmouth, Sat. 3rd Sept. to Sun. 4th Sept. 2016

Burn Hall Hotel, York, Sat. 12th Nov. to Sun. 13th Nov. 2016

“A thousand roads lead men forever to Rome”; Alain de Lille, 1175

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John Poulter: The use of long-distance alignments in Roman planning

Alongside a professional career as a specialist in information systems, John Poulter has pursued a life-long interest in linear constructions such as railways, canals, and roads – and especially in Roman roads. Shortly after his retirement in 2004, he devised a methodology for diagnosing the directions in which Roman planners may have been working when setting out the courses of their roads upon the ground. Applying this methodology to Dere Street and subsequently to other Roman roads in Britain enabled John to determine the processes which the Roman surveyors had been following in their work, and this has now been published in a number of books and articles. John is a member of several archaeological and historical societies, including the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, and the Railway & Canal Historical Society

John Peterson is a Visiting Research Fellow in the School of Computer Sciences at the University of East Anglia. His research has been mainly devoted to the study of Ancient Roman landscapes - and particularly how they were surveyed, planned and managed - using computer-based techniques. His PhD thesis, Computer aided Investigation of Ancient Cadastres, was accepted in 1993. Since then he has worked and published with various European researchers in this field. His most recently published papers have considered the use of statistical techniques to investigate the distribution of sites in centuriations and the modelling of the Via Appia and the centuriation in the Pontine Plain.

9.00 am

Lecture Summary

Rob studied history at St John's College Oxford, and spent much of his career in history teaching. He was later Berkshire Advisory Teacher for history and geography, before becoming Headteacher. He is now retired and has particular interest in what Roman roads reveal about Roman surveying techniques. He and John Poulter independently identified the existence of Long Distance Alignments, seemingly laid out by surveyors in early Roman times, and co-wrote with John the article 'Charting the Roads' (Current Archaeology May 2016) exploring this phenomenon.

Long distance alignments in southern Britain: strategic planning or boundaries?

Lecture Summary

10.10 am

Rob Entwistle

Mike studied Architecture at Magdalene College Cambridge and the University of Sheffield although his interest in painting resulted in a career as an equestrian artist in North Yorkshire. Now semi-retired, he devotes much of his time to his life-long interest in Roman roads, with particular emphasis on the strategic planning of the early network in the north of England. As chairman of the Roman Roads Research Association, he is passionate about bringing together the public, commercial and volunteer sectors of archaeology to build a unified data resource for the Roman period in Britain, crucially one that is made freely available to the public.

Towards a coordinated approach

Lecture Summary

11.10 am

Mike Haken

10.45 am




How was the course of a Roman road in Essex predicted by a land survey hypothesis?

Lecture Summary

9.35 am

Dr. John Peterson

8.45 am

Welcome and Coffee




University of Portsmouth, Eldon Building

2.00 pm

OPTIONAL - Guided visit, finds handling etc. at Fishbourne Roman Palace

11.45 am


Group 1. What contribution can volunteers make to ongoing work on Roman roads? (led by Mike Turpin)

Group 2. Road Planning Alignments & Their Function  (led by Rob Entwistle)

Group 3. A Lasting Legacy to Ivan Margary - a Visible Reminder in the Landscape? (led by Mike Haken)

12.45 pm


5.00 pm


Map of Venue and Car Parking

The Eldon Building is less than a 10 minute walk from the railway station; ample free car parking behind the venue.