Chichester Roman Road has double terraces

This route was proposed and explored by Donald Ashdown, who led the Centuriation study on the Winchester - London Roman Road. He showed that the milage agrees with the Antonine Iter V11 (Ref 1), with Clausentum near Exton, where a Roman villa has been excavated. The Branch took on the detailed surveying, with Jerry Revell as Project Leader until he was sent abroad by his employer.

The map shows the latest findings, the route is shown in blue running between the NW to SE corners. Donald's finds were largely in the centre, where it appeared as a well preserved terrace some 25' wide beside modern routes coming down to Exton. The route differs from Donald's coming out of Winchester, where massive engineering was found climbing Telegraph Hill, and also on the foot path out of Winchester. At the SE corner air photography shows a different route from Donald.

Such air photography to close gaps indicated dual carriageways - as in SE corner, where two terraces can be seen on the hillside. This led to searches for double terraces, a construction method proposed by Davies (Ref 2). Air photography showed in several places that the modern route must also be Roman, and examination found huge remains of 40' - 50' wide terraces, with the undamaged 25' terrace beside it. Where such double terraces have been found to date they are shown as thick blue lines on the map. Generally the 40' - 50' terrace is to the north. Just west of Exton the terraces separate as shown on the map, and come together again on the little lane at the SE corner of the map.

This route has a lot in common with the recently surveyed Roman Road to Exeter in Dorset (NEHHAS Jn Vol 7), where the final survey and an excavation are reported in this issue. Both are crossing difficult country in short straight lengths with 40' wide terraces. However it has just been found that in the centre of the map this Road has three lanes. Where it passes the northern boundary of Preshaw House there are three terraces beside each other. The modern lane is on the 40' terrace, with two smaller 25' wide terraces on either side - the southern one having previously been recognised. Re-examination of air photo over the footpath coming out of Winchester finds that the two dark lines on flat ground which can be taken as the 40' lane between ditches, has the northern dark line as clearly a doublet in places - the second 25' lane between ditches.

A three lane highway makes more sense - for Davies also proposes that Roman Roads should be regarded as three lane highways - the central agger as the main lane, and two side lanes between the agger and the side ditches. The central lane would be for heavy traffic and the army - and the side lanes could be used when a legion approached. Such three lanes on major Roman Roads are already known, and Margary gives some typical sections. On this data the side lanes can be lightly metalled, and slightly wider or narrower than the central agger. This Chichester Roman Road with its 3 lanes will be 88' to 98' wide - wider than his 84' which he thinks are the spacing between the side ditches for the largest Roman Roads. Davies suggests double terraces were used on hills to save engineering - on Telegraph Hill the evidence suggests both terraces were constructed at the same time.

The route shown on the map is being surveyed at 6" : 1 Mile, and published in sections. After, the route to the county boundary will be surveyed.


1. Ivan Margary, Roman Roads in Britain, John Barker, London, 1955 - 73, Appendix
2. Hugh Davies, Roads in Roman Britian, Tempus 2002, p71

Map Caption OS 1" : 1 Mile 5th Edition 1938. No. 131 Hants.

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