Roman roads

Before the Romans came to Britain, prehistoric people probably used pathways and rivers to travel from place to place. The Thames would have been an important routeway as it is such a large river and easy to follow. Some people suggest that the Ridgeway and the Icknield Way are prehistoric pathways.


The pathway along the scarp of the Chilterns would have been an impressive route through the landscape. Maybe it was also important because it passed places of significance to prehistoric people, like Whiteleaf Hill. It was also important because the Ridgeway extends all the way to Wiltshire where Stonehenge is and the Icknield Way links up with the Peddars Way in Norfolk where there were flint mines and where amber would have been found on the beaches. Later, these pathways were replaced by roads by the Romans.

Roman road in excavation at Thornborough


Roman roads

Roman engineers used equipment that laid out lines for a road that were dead straight. Straight roads mean you get to your destination much quicker, although not going around hills means that whoever is walking, marching or riding on a road has to go up and down a lot. Modern roads have sometimes reused Roman roads because they were so straight and their surface was still so hard that it made a solid base.

Section through a Roman road at Blackgrove Farm, Waddesdon


Road map

Look at the map of Buckinghamshire’s roads attached to this page. Can you find the Roman road between Aylesbury and Bicester? It was called Akeman Street and the A41 now follows its route. See if you can find the A5, which goes through Milton Keynes. That road was called Watling Street and was the main road to the north-west. Look at the modern road map your teacher gives you. Can you see any other roads that are really straight? Mark in red the roads that you think might be Roman roads. Then look again at the map of Roman roads attached to this page. Were you right?



Go back to find more Changes in the landscape.