The Info List - Dere Street

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Dere Street
Dere Street
or Deere Street is a modern designation of a Roman road which ran north from Eboracum
(York), crossing Stanegate
at Corbridge ( Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall
was crossed at the Portgate, just to the north) and continuing beyond into what is now Scotland, later at least as far as the Antonine Wall. Portions of its route are still followed by modern roads, including the A1 (south of the River Tees) and the A68 north of Corbridge.


1 Name

1.1 "Watling Street"

2 Roman route 3 Modern route 4 History 5 See also 6 Gallery 7 Notes 8 Further reading 9 External links

Name[edit] The Roman name for the route is lost. Its English name corresponds with the post-Roman Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Deira, through which the first part of its route lies. That kingdom possibly took its name from the Yorkshire River Derwent. The term "street" derives from its Old English sense (from Latin: via strata), which referred to any paved road and had no particular association with urban thoroughfares. Portions of the road in Scotland
were later known as St Cuthbert's Way and as the Royal Way (Medieval Latin: Via Regia). "Watling Street"[edit] The Roman equivalent of Watling Street, the Antonine Itinerary's 2nd British route, shared Dere Street's trunk road between Eboracum
and Cataractonium
(Catterick) before branching off to the northwest to communicate with Luguvalium
(Carlisle). Owing to this, some stretches or the entirety of Dere Street
Dere Street
is sometimes referenced as "Watling Street". It should not, however, be confused with the traditional route between Canterbury
and Wroxeter
in the south nor with the Carlisle route to its west.

A map of the Roman north c. 84, including Dere Street
Dere Street
between Eboracum
and Veluniate
near Camelon

Roman route[edit] As far as Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall
Dere Street
Dere Street
roughly corresponds to the Antonine Itinerary's 1st British route, which however began further south than York
and ended at the Wall:[1][2]

Route I of the Antonine Itinerary

From the border—that is, from the Wall—unto Praetorium, 156 Roman miles.

From Bremenium [Binchester], Coria [Corbridge],


To Vindomora [Ebchester],


To Vinovia [Binchester],


To Cataractonium [Catterick],


Isurium [Aldborough],


Eboracum [York], 6th Victorious Leg.,


To Derventio [Malton],


To Delgovicia [unknown],


To Praetorium [unknown],


As the text implies, the road served to allow the legion garrisoned in York
quick access to the eastern borderlands and, later, the eastern posts on Hadrian's Wall. The Itinerary's 2nd and 5th British routes—which split off to reach the western territories—share the stations between Eboracum
and Cataractonium. The forts along the roads were manned by infantry cohorts and cavalry alae of the Roman army's auxiliaries. Margary notes that the last entry is probably in error and should be emended to 10 Roman miles.[5]

Dere Street
Dere Street
at Brompton-on-Swale

Modern route[edit] The modern route omits the now-lost road south of York[6] but continues farther north along Roman roads
Roman roads
either omitted by the compiler of the Antonine Itineraries or constructed after his time. The route begins at York
and crosses the River Ure
River Ure
near Aldborough close to Boroughbridge.[clarification needed] It crosses the Swale near Catterick. (The ruins of Cataractonium
lie just north of Catterick at Scotch Corner.) The A66 road
A66 road
preserves the route of the Roman-era Watling Street, branching off here to cross Stainmore to Penrith and Carlisle at the western end of Hadrian's Wall.[7]

Remains thought to represent the old Roman bridge
Roman bridge
over the Tees

Dere Street
Dere Street
crossed the River Tees
River Tees
over a stone arch bridge near the present-day Piercebridge Roman Fort
Piercebridge Roman Fort
ruins. Such bridges were rare in Roman Britain
Roman Britain
except for here in the far north.[8] The original bridge was replaced by one on a different alignment.[9] There is evidence of other minor realignments of Dere Street
Dere Street
over the Roman period.[9] In 1994, construction of a garage at Cliffe exposed a section of the Roman road and discovered pottery and tile from the period.[10][11] Selkirk suggested that the ruins on the south side of the Tees at Cliffe are the remains of a jetty;[12] the archaeological television programme Time Team
Time Team
investigated this in 2009.[13][clarification needed]

Dere Street
Dere Street
at Esh Winning

The next river crossing occurred over the Wear near present-day Bishop Auckland.[14] At this point, the fort Vinovia
guarded a branch road that turned off to the right heading for Durham, Chester-le-Street, and Newcastle. There, the Pons Aelius
Pons Aelius
crossed the River Tyne.[15] Dere Street, meanwhile, travels onward past Lanchester and Ebchester, the sites of the former forts of Longovicium
and Vindomora. At Coria (modern Corbridge), it met the Stanegate
road which runs parallel to Hadrian's Wall. [16] Stanegate
and Dere Street
Dere Street
were originally the same width (roughly 7.7 m or 25 ft) but the depth of metalling on Stanegate—72 cm (28 in) against Dere Street's 30 cm (12 in)—argues for a greater frequency of resurfacing and for greater or heavier traffic.[17] Crossing at Corbridge, the route passed though Portgate on the Wall and passed into lands only tenuously claimed by Rome.[18]

Iron Age hill fort associated with Dere Street
Dere Street
at Pennymuir

The route passes north into Redesdale
and thence into the Cheviot Hills, where there are the remains of marching forts at Fourlaws, West Woodburn (Habitancum), Rochester (Bremenium), and at Chew Green.[18] Brementium was the last stop listed for Antonine Itinerary, but the Roman road's remains now lead further, past the present Anglo-Scottish border at Carter Fell near the present A68 road. Nearby, there are the remains of a camp at Pennymuir.[19] Further on, well-preserved sections of the road form part of St Cuthbert's Way to Trimontium near Melrose. There, the route crosses the Tweed and follows the Leader Water
Leader Water
to the foot of the Lammermuirs, where there is evidence of Roman forts near Oxton. Another well-preserved section rises through the Lammermuirs
over Soutra Hill and on to Edinburgh, where Din Eidyn was a stronghold for the British Votadini
tribe. Nearby, the Romans held garrisons at Cramond
and Inveresk
at the eastern end of the Antonine Wall.[20] History[edit]

Dere Street
Dere Street
close to the Scottish Border

During the High Middle Ages, the section of the route between Jedburgh and Edinburgh
was known as the Royal Way (Latin: Via Regia). It connected the larger part of Scotland
with the important ecclesiastic sites of the Scottish Borders. King Malcolm IV established his Church and Hospital of the Holy Trinity halfway along this section to provide succour for the many pilgrims using it.[21] After the destruction of the Border Abbeys during the "Rough Wooing" of Mary, Queen of Scots, by the Earl of Hertford's forces and during the Reformation of the Scottish Church, the route fell into disuse and disrepair. It was used mainly for driving livestock and occasional travellers daring enough to venture into the lawless border region.[22]

Storing olives on Dere Street; Tacuinum Sanitatis, 14th century

Dere Street
Dere Street
continued in use between Durham and York
in medieval times. Being limited by daylight, "about thirty miles in a day in winter on horseback and between thirty-six and forty in summer was what a man could do." Tough, vigorous men could walk from Darlington to York, and it was said that the quality of a horse could make the difference between a possible thirty and fifty miles per day. A wish to hear mass or the organisation of a train by the rich could shorten the travelling day to twenty miles. Roads were described as so muddy and difficult between November and February that to finish the journey by daylight one could barely stop to eat; however a "royal highway" or alta via regia strata was passable in winter between York
and Durham, and this could have been Dere Street. Heavy packhorse loads were taken on the route, for example 20 stone (130 kg) of wool. Clerics, traders and the nobility were more likely to travel than others, and some people rarely travelled at all. Travelling in style involved the use of carts for luggage, but carts bogged down in winter mud, so traders with packhorses travelled more easily in winter than the rich.[23] See also[edit]

Piercebridge Roman Bridge Roman roads
Roman roads
in Britain


Legg's cross on Dere Street
Dere Street
near Bolam in County Durham

Dere Street
Dere Street
at Bildershaw, County Durham

Wheelbirks bridge, near Hindley, Northumberland

Milestone at West Woodburn, Northumberland

Dere Street
Dere Street
at Bonjedward, Scottish Borders

Dere Street
Dere Street
at Crailinghall, Scottish Borders

Dere Street
Dere Street
at Maxton, Scottish Borders

Dere Street
Dere Street
at Gilston, Scottish Borders


^ Itinerarium Antonini Augusti. Hosted at Latin
Wikisource. (in Latin) ^ Togodumnus (2011). "The Antonine Itinerary". Roman Britain
Roman Britain
Online. Archived from the original on 18 September 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2015.  (in Latin) & (in English) ^ Margary, Ivan Donald (1973). Roman Roads in Britain (3rd ed.). London: John Baker. ISBN 9780212970018.  ^ Togodumnus (2010). "Praesidivm/Praetorivm? Probable Roman Fort and Port". Roman Britain
Roman Britain
Online. Retrieved 20 February 2015.  ^ Margary,[3] cited at Roman Britain
Roman Britain
Online.[4] ^ Davies, Hugh (2002). Roman Roads in Britain. Stroud. pp. 20–21. ISBN 0-7524-2503-X.  ^ Hayton, Richard (2003). "Yorkshire History.com". Roman military sites in Yorkshire. Retrieved 16 January 2010.  ^ Davies, p. 93. ^ a b "1".  ^ "Heritage Gateway". Listed buildings online, and local records. Archived from the original on 25 September 2005. Retrieved 11 January 2010.  ^ NY SMR Number MNY12855; Old Sites & Monuments Record Number 12975.10000; Grid Reference NZ 212,155; SNY8056 Field recording Form, North Yorkshire County Council 15 November 1994, George Hotel Piercebridge ( Dere Street
Dere Street
Cottage), Campling, N. NYCC Observation Record ^ Selkirk, Raymond (2000). Chester-le-Street
& Its Place in History. Birtley, County Durham: Casdec Print & Design Centre. pp. 93–122. ISBN 1-900456-05-2.  ^ Lloyd, Chris (2 July 2009). "The Northern Echo". Piercebridge: Time Team investigates. Archived from the original on 27 September 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2010.  ^ Laurie, Barbara (2005). "bishopaucklandhistory.co.uk". A Short History of Bishop Auckland. Retrieved 16 January 2010.  ^ "Pastscape, English Heritage". Dere Street
Dere Street
Investigation History. Publications : Full report Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne
2/1925/12:94-6. Retrieved 16 January 2010.  ^ Bishop, M.C. "Durham.ac.uk resources" (PDF). Corbridge (archaeological resources). Retrieved 16 January 2010.  ^ Davies, p. 57. ^ a b "BBC". Dere Street
Dere Street
– From York
to Melrose in Seven Days. 10 June 2009. Retrieved 16 January 2010.  ^ " Pennymuir
camps under snow".  ^ "Historic Scotland". Dere Street
Dere Street
Roman Road. Retrieved 16 January 2010.  ^ Hunter, James, FSA (Scot)., Fala and Soutra, including a History of the Ancient "Domus de Soltre", Edinburgh, 1892. ^ Scotways.com. "Heritage Paths". Dere Street. Retrieved 16 January 2010.  ^ Harvey, Margaret M. (March 2005). "Travel from Durham to York
(and back) in the fourteenth century" (PDF). Northern History. Durham University Library. 1 (XLII): 119–130. Retrieved 16 January 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

The Roads of Mediaeval Lauderdale, by R. P. Hardie, Edinburgh
& London, 1942.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dere Street.

A look at some of the ancient roads passing through East Lothian, including a section of Dere Street h2g2: Dere Street
Dere Street
– From York
to Melrose in Seven Days

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Coordinates: 55°03′24″N 2°03′56″W / 55.0566°N 2.06543°W /