Section of Roman road in Rigery Lane
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1017473
Date first listed: 16-Jan-1998
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This copy shows the entry on 15-Oct-2018 at 22:49:37.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: East Hertfordshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: TL 36657 20857
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Reasons for Designation
Roman roads were artificially made-up routes introduced to Britain by the
Roman army from c.AD 43. They facilitated both the conquest of the province
and its subsequent administration. Their main purpose was to serve the Cursus
Publicus, or Imperial mail service. Express messengers could travel up to 150
miles per day on the network of Roman roads throughout Britain and Europe,
changing horses at wayside 'mutationes' (posting stations set every 8 miles on
major roads) and stopping overnight at 'mansiones' (rest houses located every
20-25 miles). In addition, throughout the Roman period and later, Roman roads
acted as commercial routes and became foci for settlement and industry.
Mausolea were sometimes built flanking roads during the Roman period while, in
the Anglian and medieval periods, Roman roads often served as property
boundaries. Although a number of roads fell out of use soon after the
withdrawal of Rome from the province in the fifth century AD, many have
continued in use down to the present day and are consequently sealed beneath
On the basis of construction technique, two main types of Roman road are
distinguishable. The first has widely spaced boundary ditches and a broad
elaborate agger comprising several layers of graded materials. The second
usually has drainage ditches and a narrow simple agger of two or three
successive layers. In addition to ditches and construction pits flanking the
sides of the road, features of Roman roads can include central stone ribs,
kerbs and culverts, not all of which will necessarily be contemporary with the
original construction of the road. With the exception of the extreme south-
west of the country, Roman roads are widely distributed throughout England and
extend into Wales and lowland Scotland. They are highly representative of the
period of Roman administration and provide important evidence of Roman civil
engineering skills as well as the pattern of Roman conquest and settlement. A
high proportion of examples exhibiting good survival are considered to be
worthy of protection.
The Roman road partly perpetuated by Rigery Lane is charcteristic of the secondary class of road which linked the settlements of the region. Unlike the major roads such as Watling Street and Ermine Street, which were built to allow the strategic movement of military forces soon after the Roman Conquest and maintained thereafter as a tool of the provincial government, these lesser routes are generally thought to have developed in the second and third centuries AD to serve the emerging pattern of urban and rural settlement. Such roads, sometimes formalising far older routes, are thought to have been the responsibility of local government, and their construction emphasises the importance that the territorial capital (in this case Verulamium) placed on providing effective links between town and country. Although the sporadic perpetuation of the route in later roads and land boundaries allows the general course of the road to be followed, the only section to have been shown to retain surviving remains lies within the south western part of Rigery lane. The limited excavations of 1947 demonstrated an exceptional degree of preservation of the techniques used in its construction, and the pattern of wear on the surface of the agger. The buried ditches to either side of the agger may contain sealed environmental evidence illustrating the appearance of the landscape in which the road was set, and the banks which developed over these ditches are also considered to be significant in that they demonstrate the continued use of the boundaries originally defined by the road.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes a section of a minor Roman road preserved beneath part
of Rigery Lane, a green lane to the west of the A10 at Colliers End. The route
followed by the Roman road is thought to have been adapted from a series of
Late Iron Age trackways which linked settlements at St Albans, Wheathampstead
and Welwyn, and it can still be identified in the fragmentary alignments of
minor modern roads, tracks and field boundaries between these sites. In the
Roman period the road may have served mainly to connect the town at St Albans
(Verulamium) and other minor settlements, such as at Welwyn, with Ermine
Street - the principal route from London to Lincoln and York (known here as
the A10). It has also been suggested that the road may have continued to the
east of Ermine Street, past the small town at Braughing and over Sandon Hill
to join the Stane Street to Colchester.
Most of this route has since been overlain by later roads or disturbed by
cultivation, and the section within Rigery Lane is the only part known to
retain detailed evidence for the manner of its construction. The lane, which
remained in use as a cart track from Rigery Farm until the latter part of the
19th century, runs in a south westerly direction for approximately 620m from
the A10 north of Colliers End (where the projected junction of the two routes
is overlain by a group of modern houses) and terminates at a field boundary to
the north of a private house known as `The Orchards'. Exploratory excavations
in 1947 in the area immediately north of `The Orchards' demonstrated that the
Roman road survived in an exceptional condition. The metalled surface was
found to take the form of a compact layer of flints and chalk nodules 3.5m
across, laid to a depth of about 0.3m over the artificially levelled surface
of the clay subsoil. The surface of the metalling was found to retain traces
of original capping of flint pebbles and gravel, which was cambered for
drainage and scored by three well-marked wheel ruts thought to be contemporary
with Roman use. The road surface is flanked to either side by narrow drainage
gullies buried beneath the inner edges of the field boundary banks which
subsequently developed alongside the lane. The southern bank was found to
contain several sherds of medieval pottery, tentatively identified as 13th
century in date.
The length of green lane extending some 176m from the eastern end has the same
appearance throughout and is little changed since the excavations took place.
This section is included in the scheduling, together with the banks to either
side which reflect the continued importance of the boundaries created by the
road. To the north west, the lane is crossed and partly overlain by a modern
rubble track and beyond this it changes character, becoming wider and more
level. Sample excavation in this area in 1947 found that later use of the
track had degraded the surface of the Roman road leaving little trace of the
original metalling. This section is therefore not included in the scheduling.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 29390
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Holmes, J, 'Trans East Herts Arch Soc' in The Roman Road in Rigery Lane, Colliers End, , Vol. XII (ii), (1949), 96-99
Holmes, J, 'Trans East Herts Arch Soc' in The Roman Road in Rigery Lane, Colliers End., , Vol. XII (ii), (1949), 96-9
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing