Digging the dirt in search of a missing Roman road near Garstang

Two views of the  uncovered Roman road at Bilsborrow, looking from east and west.
Two views of the uncovered Roman road at Bilsborrow, looking from east and west.
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A centuries old riddle has been solved after amateur archaeologists unearthed a “missing” Roman road in a farmer’s field.

The location of the 2,000-year-old highway had mystified historians for almost two centuries until a team of enthusiasts found the “remarkably well-preserved” thoroughfare during a dig at Bilsborrow near Garstang.

David Ratledge, who has been looking for the lost road for 45 years, walks along the line in a farmer's field before excavation.

David Ratledge, who has been looking for the lost road for 45 years, walks along the line in a farmer's field before excavation.

“This is probably our most successful and important dig,” said David Hampson, secretary of Wyre Archaeology.

“Our team has been able to reveal a previously unknown but significant link in the Roman road network in Lancashire. For amateur archaeologists it doesn’t get much better.”

Historians knew a Roman road linked a military depot at Walton-le-Dale (now under the Capitol Centre) with an important fort at Lancaster.

Another road must have connected Lancaster to the fort at Ribchester. But its route has been a mystery until now.

Most experts believed the road went over Lonridge Fell and up to Galgate.

Now the team have proved that theory wrong, thanks to laser survey work carried out by team member David Ratledge.

“The answer was simple,” said David Hampson. “The road took a different course altogether.

"The route taken was more sensible and economical, going via Longridge and Inglewhite to Catterall where it joined the main South to North road.”