This particular Road leading north out of Wigan through Standish and on to Walton-le-Dale (Margary 70c) was first investigated by the Wigan Archaeological Society in the early 1980’s. The initial investigations centered around the accounts given by Thompson Watkin (Roman Lancashire 1883 p66-68) who was able to trace the Road in the late 19th century as far as Standish. However he could find little evidence of the Road north of Standish except for two earlier reported sightings in Worden Hall Park near Euxton (said to be 13 yards wide) and Bamber Bridge south of Preston.
For many years this was the excepted route i.e. a road called Meanygate (or Mainway Gate on early maps) in Bamber Bridge, lining up with a straight line path through Cinder Wood near Cuerden Hall and on south towards Worden Hall. However excavations in 1996 at Walton-le-Dale revealed a remarkable section of the road which pointed, not towards Bamber Bridge, but Leyland. It seemed to line up with Todd Lane, Stanifield Lane and on towards Euxton, lining up pretty well with Wigan Road (i.e. the A49) as it passes through Euxton village.
This alignment has recently been confirmed by excavations in advance of a proposed new development site south of the M65 terminus. A section of the road was discovered in a field on the east side of Stanifield lane it to be a good 10 metres wide and in remarkably good condition. It was made of rammed cobbles and cambered on each site. On the east side there was a ‘V’ shaped ditch but the west side had been truncated by modern activity (you can see more details here).
Besides Watkin, another early reference to the line of the Road in the Wigan area is the One Inch Ordinance Survey Map which was first published between 1842 and 1844. A section of this One Inch OS Map north of Wigan shows the road as a continuation of Mesnes Street, crossing the railway line at a point where a factory is indicated. The line is then shown crossing the Wigan boundary at Brimelow farm and on past Brockhurst to Round Moor Farm. Here the line ends where the track from Round Moor to Wakefield’s farm crosses it. Curiously this line, from Wigan town centre to Round Moor, is not shown on the Six Inch OS Map of 1849 or any later edition.From Round Moor Farm, Watkin says the line follows a cart track towards Standish where it passes the Parish Church on the west side. However the line most probably changed direction at Prospect Hill which is the highest point in Standish. Passing the Church on the East side, the line would then align with Hic Bibi on the Standish Coppull border where Chorley Arch Soc found evidence of the road in excavation in the late 60’s and early 80’s.
Brimelow Farm. Over the years ours Society have carried out a number investigations in the two fields at Brimelow including excavations. In 1988 we found evidence for the road in the north field and in 2004 we confirmed the alignment by finding evidence in the south field also (reported in Newsletter 75). You can see details of our 2004 investigations here.
At the time we struggled to detect the road using our resistivity equipment but recently we returned to Brimlow having access to GPR equipment. This was to see if it could detect anything where we knew the road to exist thus proving its usefulness in detecting the road in other areas. The results where a success and we were also able to detect other features off the alignment and the farmer Roy Brandon has kindly allowed us to investigate these too. You can see details of our 2016 investigations here and our 2018 investigations here
Standish Wood Lane. Further north Thomas Codrington favoured this road in his book “Roman Roads in Britain”. On what evidence he does not say but this old road is a popular choice with many historians. It is unarguably an ancient track as there are three Medieval cross bases located along its route. Recently Edmund Wadelove (Britannia XXXII 2001) cites this route because of its alignment with the known Roman road from Wigan to Warrington that runs south of Wigan on the other side of the Douglas valley. Wadelove concludes that Standish is the Roman settlement of Coccium (however this was before the discovery of the Roman bathhouse in the centre of Wigan). It is quite understandable, when examining this route on the ground, why historians have been attracted to it, as it is quite straight and follows a natural ridge south out of Standish.
Along a portion of its length, however, the road turns into a 4 metre deep hollow way which suggests a medieval origin (one of the Medieval cross bases is located part way along this section – adding credence to this suggestion). If, however, we consider the hollow way section to have been a later addition to alleviate the steep slope at that particular point, it is still possible to imagine this route as being the original Roman alignment (the route into Wigan via Brimelow Farm being a later diversion). To check this theory, in 2009 and 2010 the Wigan Arch Soc carried out fieldwork in this area including two resistivity surveys in fields either side of Lower Standish Wood Fold (now called Speckled Holly) on the projected line. The results however were negative. The lack of pottery in the south filed suggests it was not cultivated until recent times, which would give more chance for the road to survive if it was there. Our only conclusion is that, from these results, the road did not cross these fields and therefore Standish Wood Lane is unlikely to have been the Roman road. You can see details of our investigations here .
Row High Wood. In 2016 a section of the road just north of Coppull was suggested by David Ratledge after examining LiDAR images of the area. To check this out we visited the site and you can see details of what we found here