Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

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May 2016
News update:
LANCASHIRE LOCAL HISTORY FEDERATION NEWSLETTER ISSUE NO. 15 MAY 2016 is now out and available on this website. You can see it via the "Various articles ... other reports" pages on the home page. It contains an article about the Anti Aircraft Gun base at Lucas Green, Whittle-le-Woods, Chorley.

Tue 10 May 2016
Roman Roads in Lancashire – David Ratledge


David was given a warm reception by a large attendance that reflects the popularity of the subject matter. He explained that his talk on Roman roads is based on new discoveries using technology that uses light sensors to measure distance between the sensor and a target called Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR). It is operated from an aircraft and has been used by the Environment Agency, which it has used it in its flood defence work.

Starting with an image of a cross section of a Roman road David explained the road’s construction meant it would be raised above the surrounding ground. Identification of these roads was based good old fashioned excavation. However, where there were gaps in the knowledge of a road’s route other clues were used, such as place names and conjecture on where a road would have ran. Ordnance Survey (OS) maps showed lines of some Roman roads that were based on nothing more than this basis

David Ratledge 

LIDAR is able to measure height of ground to differences of 2 inches. Consequently, subtle changes to ground heights invisible to the naked eye and photography, even from above, are identified.

Up to 70% of Lancashire has been covered by LIDAR and because of research done by David and others, lines of some of its Roman roads have been changed.

Particular attention was paid to certain sections of Roman roads in the county that are shown on OS maps but had puzzled David.

With LIDARs 3-D digital surface images David showed the Lancaster-Preston, north-south ‘coastal’ road, is seen to run through Cockerham, which was previously unknown.

Another puzzled solved was the road east of Lancaster to Caton. The line previously thought to be that of the Roman road proved to be incorrect.

Roman Roads 

The key piece of evidence for the route just south of Garstang.
The LIDAR image of the route can be clearly seen.

The ‘inland’ north-south road from Lancaster to Ribchester was generally thought to have run over the Bowland fells. However, LIDAR evidence shows the road leaves the Lancaster-Preston road at Catterall, near Garstang before cutting south east past Brock and Longridge then down to Ribchester.

The line of a Roman road, marked on OS maps as ‘Danes Pad’, was long believed to have run west of Kirkham. LIDAR has found no supporting evidence of any Roman road west of Kirkham.

The many images David showed and his narrative proved to be totally absorbing for all those present. He concluded that much of what he said has yet to be published online so was hot off the press. He now intends to concentrate on Roman roads in Cumbria.

These recent developments using LIDAR will be a great help to archaeologists and was, without doubt, of great interest to all of those present that evening.
David has updated an excellent website on some of his findings. You can see it via the link below:

Peter Robinson


Coming soon - the CHAS group trip. Sat 15 - Mon 17 October 2016
London & Bletchley Park (CHAS group trip) Bletchley Park home of the code breakers and the Museum of London for "Fire! Fire!" exhibition & Thames + Greenwich. Optional British Museum & new exhibition, "The Real Atlantis."


The real Atlantis: Egypt’s sunken city.

Lost in the mud for millennia, believed to be mythical, the recently uncovered Heracleion is an ‘underwater Pompeii’. Now its treasures are now at the British Museum.
“Sunken cities: Egypt’s lost worlds” is at the British Museum from 19 May to 27 November. Supported by BP, and organised with the Hilti Foundation and the Institut Européen d’Archéologie Sous-Marine in collaboration with the Ministry of Antiquities of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

For more information on The real Atlantis: Egypt’s sunken city click this link.