Fosse Way was a
Roman road in England that linked
South West England
South West England to Lincoln (Lindum Colonia) in
Ilchester (Lindinis), Bath (Aquae Sulis),
Cirencester (Corinium) and
Leicester (Ratae Corieltauvorum).
Akeman Street and
Ermin Way at Cirencester, crossed Watling
Venonis (High Cross) south of Leicester, and joined Ermine
Street at Lincoln.
The word Fosse is derived from the
Latin fossa, meaning ditch. For
the first few decades after the
Roman invasion of Britain
Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43,
Fosse Way marked the western frontier of Roman rule in Iron Age
Britain. It is possible that the road began as a defensive ditch that
was later filled in and converted into a road, or possibly a defensive
ditch ran alongside the road for at least some of its length.
It is remarkable for its extremely direct route: from Lincoln to
Ilchester in Somerset, a distance of 182 miles (293 km), it is
never more than 6 miles (10 km) from a straight line.
1 Today's route
1.1 Lincoln to Leicester
Leicester to Cirencester
Cirencester to Bath
1.4 Bath to Ilchester
Ilchester to Exeter
2 See also
5 External links
Many sections of the
Fosse Way form parts of modern roads and lanes,
and parish, district or county boundaries.
Several place names on the route have the suffix -cester or -chester,
which is derived from Old English 'ceaster' / 'cæster' (ultimately
Latin castra meaning military camp). Some settlements are named
after the road itself, such as Fosse-, or -on-Fosse, while others have
a more generic form, such as Street, Strete, -le-Street, Stratton,
Stretton, Stratford, and Stretford, derived from Old English 'strǣt'
/ 'strēt' (ultimately <
Latin strata, meaning paved road). The
route runs from 50°44′N 3°29′W / 50.73°N 3.48°W /
50.73; -3.48 in
Exeter to 53°14′N 0°32′W / 53.23°N
0.54°W / 53.23; -0.54 in Lincoln.
Lincoln to Leicester
Between Lincoln and
Leicester the A46 follows the route of the Fosse
Way. The A46 deviates from
Fosse Way at East Goscote, to follow the
Leicester Western Bypass. The original alignment, which is still
visible as an unclassified road called Fosse Way, passes through
Syston, continuing as the minor road Melton Road through Thurmaston,
before merging with the A607 (the old A46), continuing into the city
centre on the old alignment, first as Melton Road then Belgrave Road
and Belgrave Gate. The alignment terminates at the Clock Tower, and
picks up again at
Narborough Road (the A5460), on the other side of
the River Soar. A 19 miles (31 km) stretch of the road between
Newark-on-Trent has been upgraded to a
Dual-carriageway which was completed in 2012. The new route deviates
in several sections off the historic road line.
Leicester to Cirencester
Fosse Way from the top of Brinklow Castle, Warwickshire
South of Leicester, apart from a short deviation near Narborough where
the original course is no longer visible, the B4114 (originally the
A46 but renumbered when the M69 was opened) follows the route. A short
distance north of the A5, the B4114 diverges from the line of the
Fosse Way to pass through the village of Sharnford, while for 2 miles
(3.2 km) the route of the
Fosse Way is followed by a minor road,
named Roman Road which, although single track, runs along a much wider
and slightly domed strip of land with deep ditches either side (the
agger). The modern road ends at a picnic site car park, and a
further 1.5 miles (2.4 km) southwards can be explored on foot.
The junction of
Fosse Way with Watling Street, now the A5, is at High
Cross (Roman name Venonis).
Watling Street is the county boundary
Leicestershire and Warwickshire.
Fosse Way follows the B4455 across Warwickshire, through Street
Ashton, Stretton-under-Fosse, Brinklow, Bretford,
Stretton-on-Dunsmore, Princethorpe and the site of a Roman town near
Chesterton, until it joins the A429 near the boundary with
Gloucestershire. The route then follows the A429 through
Stretton-on-Fosse, Moreton-in-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold,
Fossebridge, to Cirencester, where it crosses
Akeman Street and Ermin
Cirencester to Bath
Section of the
Fosse Way as a byway north of the M4
Fosse Way follows a short section of the
A433, then goes cross country. The
Fosse Way crosses the River Thames
and under the first South Wales railway
Golden Valley Line which was
constructed via Gloucester. The road continues and later forming the
county boundary between
Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, across the old
airfield at RAF Kemble, then becomes fragmented sections of country
lanes; two sections on this stretch are byways rather than maintained
roads, and at points on these routes it widens to as much as 60 feet
It passes near the
Iron Age hill fort of Bury Camp and becomes another
section of the county boundary, crossing second the South Wales
railway which is the South Wales Main Line, next the site of an old
chapel and spring at Fosse Lodge in Dunley, and then the M4.
Thereafter it passes through
The Shoe and Nettleton Shrub where
remains of a posting-station have been found, and arrives at
Batheaston. Thereupon it turns due west to follow the river Avon into
Bath to Ilchester
Between Bath and
Shepton Mallet the line of the
Fosse Way follows
parts of the A367, through Clandown, Radstock, Westfield and
Stratton-on-the-Fosse. It runs across open country and farm tracks
parallel to the A37 north of Shepton Mallet, near the
Iron Age hill
fort of Maesbury. At Beacon Hill south of Oakhill, it crossed the
Roman road along the Mendip ridgeway from
Old Sarum to the lead and
silver mines at Charterhouse. The
Fosse Way passes through the eastern
Shepton Mallet on a short stretch of the A361 to Cannard's
Grave, where it picks up the A37.
Fosse Way follows the A37 through Street-on-the-Fosse and
Lydford-on-Fosse on a direct route to Ilchester. The route leaves the
A37 north of the A303 junction just north of Ilchester, and follows a
small track (previously part of the A37 from before the by-pass opened
and broken by the present-day A372 and A303), before picking up the
B3151 through the town. It leaves the B3151 onto Ilchester's High
Street, then follows West Street and Roman Road, a minor road that was
formerly part of the A303, towards the present-day A303 west of town.
Roman road from
Dorchester, Dorset continues on the
line of A37 through
Yeovil to the south east. Other minor Roman roads
Lydford-on-Fosse towards Street and the A39
route along the Polden Hills, leading to Roman salt works on the
Somerset Levels, and ports at Combwich, Crandon Bridge and
Ilchester to Exeter
Fosse Way is followed by a section of the A303
under the ramparts of the
Iron Age hill fort of Ham Hill, occupied by
the Second Legion after the conquest of the
Durotriges in Dorset.
The alignment leaves major roads after Petherton Bridge over the
River Parrett, and follows country lanes to Over Stratton and
Dinnington, where in 2002 members of the
Channel 4 television
Time Team uncovered a mosaic next to the road.
The route crosses a stream called Stretford Water, climbs the ridge,
and follows a short section of the A30 at Windwhistle Hill. Then it
turns on to the B3167 through the hamlets of Street and Perry Street,
joins the A358, crosses the River Axe at what used to be called
Stratford (now called Weycroft), and on to Axminster.
The location of the end of the
Fosse Way is uncertain.. There are
further alignments on the A358 at Ball's Farm and
Musbury south of
Axminster, which imply a
Roman road did continue along the River Axe
Axmouth and Seaton. These sections are labelled
Fosse Way on
Ordnance Survey maps.
The crossroads in
Axminster was controlled by a Roman fort at Woodbury
Farm, now on the southern edge of the town. The route to the west
crosses the Rivers Axe and Yarty to Kilmington, continuing on segments
of the A35 and minor local lanes to Honiton. From Honiton the
route leads south-west along the old A30, to Strete Ralegh, where
there is a short break, then a clear alignment along the former A30,
now a minor road, towards Exeter.
Roman roads in Britain
Crossings of the River Thames
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Fosse Way through Nottinghamshire Archaeology and the
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Roman road known as the Foss(e) Way runs from
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^ G M Boumphrey, Along the Roman Roads, Allen & Unwin, London,
^ Gathercole, Clare. "Shepton Mallet".
Somerset Urban Archaeological
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^ Petherton Bridge Archived 24 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Villa mosaic's secrets revealed".
BBC News. BBC. 11 July 2006.
^ "Dinnington, Somerset". Time Team. Channel 4. Retrieved
^ "Roman villa, Northfield Lane, Dinnington".
County Council. Retrieved
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Margary, I. D. (1955) Roman Roads in Britain: Vol.1, South of the Foss
Way-Bristol Channel, 1st ed., London: Phoenix House, 255 p.
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