Wigan to Ribchester

The existence of this road is based on the Antonine Itinerary which mentions a distance of 20 Roman Miles between Bremetennacum and Coccium. The only way this distance can be correct is by a direct line between the two. A route this way however was never identified by 19th century antiquarians or Margary even, but  David Ratledge’s account on his Roman Roads in Lancashire webpage is very persuasive. Here is an extract:-

A few pieces of evidence point to the existence of this road. On the direct route there are 4 occurrences of ‘street’ or ‘causeway’ names. The first at Rivington was regarded by Birtill, the Chorley historian, as a Roman road continuing further north along Heapey Fold Lane. The next is at Causeway House Farm at Heapey. Finally at Causeway Farm near Riley Green – an old raised road is reported descending to a ford across the River Darwen below Lodge Farm – it apparently known as the “Roman Ford”. It is lost across the golf course but appear s further on across Long Lane at Cabin Hill/Woodcock Hill (Ref: Dixon – Journeys through Brigantia – Book 11). Another Causeway Farm is located at Osbaldeston. The direction of all these is towards Ribchester.Ribchesster to Wigan MapIn 1962 Chorley Arch Soc excavated Heapey Fold Lane south of Healey Nab not far from Kays Farm. This is the only excavation to ever have been carried on this route (that is prior to our excavations at Toddington Lane). At the time though, they were assuming Blackrod to be the Roman station of Coccium. They found a cobbled surface and kerbing heading towards Heapey (in previous years a hoard of Roman coins together with a silver necklace had been found at Heapey, but not exactly sure where). You can see details of Chorley’s excavations here.

Another of David Ratledge’s suggestions is the Common at Adlington, a road which points directly towards Wigan. This route would have crossed the River Douglas at Arley and then, travelling through  Red Rock, would have crossed the Douglas again somewhere near Leyland Mill Lane. In 2015, our attention was drawn to culvert under Wingates Road at the bottom of Leyland Mill Lane which had striking similarities to culverts seen under known Roman roads in north Lancashire. You can see details of our site visit here.

In 2016 Mrs Pendlebury, who lives on Toddington Lane in Haigh, contacted us regarding what she thought was a Roman milestone near her house which had recently been broken. Her claim that it was Roman came from her belief that the lane itself was Roman. We therefore decided we must investigate. You can see details of investigations here.

If we accept the possibility of Toddington Lane being Roman (this route would certainly avoid the double river crossing of the Douglas) then the projected alignment points to the western edges of the ridge on which Blackrod sits. Recent geophysics in the field on the west side of Dark Lane by the Society have failed to find any evidence (see Newsletter No.208) but Alan Bury, a local historian, has obtained permission to excavate which hope to carry out next year. You can see more details of our investigations here.

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