Archaeologists’ find Roman road from Wigan to Warrington

Surviving parts of a Roman road discovered during excavations
Surviving parts of a Roman road discovered during excavations

Archaeologists have uncovered further evidence of the Roman road running from Wigan to Warrington - after decades of speculation.

An excavation was conducted in 1993 on the south side of Bryn Road in Ashton, which uncovered evidence of the route from Coccium to the Roman fort at Wilderspool.

And now Wigan Archaeological Society has confirmed that further exploration has established the remains of a 50-metre stretch at nearby Landgate in Bryn.

Consultants working on behalf of the Greater Manchester Archaeological Society, from Salford University, have been given permission to dig on the site of the proposed Bellway Homes housing development, currently under construction there.

Years of ploughing have removed most of the upper metalling of the road - but surviving parts are represented by fine compacted pebbles. And a foundation layer of red and yellow sandstone, quarried at nearby Ashton, is still intact.

Bill Aldridge, of the archaeological society, said: “It shows the road to have been about six to seven metres wide.

“This is smaller than expected but matches the section of the road discovered in 1993 on the other side of Bryn Road.

“It adds to the many other Roman finds in the Wigan area, including the famous bathhouse found in 2005, in advance of the Grand Arcade development.

“It proves once again that Wigan was a very important Roman settlement in the early part of the Roman occupation of Britain.”

Nearly 20 excavations have been undertaken by the society since the early 80s, from Brimelow Farm, off Gidlow Lane, to Walmesley Park, Ellesmere Park and Standish Wood Lane.

Rev Edmund Sibson first identified the road, in the early 19th century, and fellow historian W. Thomas Watkin supported his findings later. This was followed by a number of digs in the Warrington and Winwick sections in the early 20th century.

Broadly it follows the path of the A49, through Ashton and Winwick, and has been described as the main west coast route through the north to Scotland.

Campaigners from Bryn Against Development had cited the existence of the Roman road as a strong argument against building homes at Landgate.

Alan Hardy, from the group, said: “The first phase is under way now but at least this was one small victory for us, in a way, as a record is being taken of the site.”

An open day has been held by the society for members, before the road is covered by the development.