Significance of Wheeldale Roman Road

The significance of the Wheeldale monument is open to debate, depending on whether it is indeed a Roman road, or is of earlier or later origin.

Wheeldale monument aerial view looking south

Aerial view of the Wheeldale monument, looking south

Roman

If the Wheeldale monument were to represent a surviving, albeit substantially restored, length of Roman road, it would be significant as a readily accessible example of a type of site that is often lost under modern roads or development, largely destroyed or only seen as a grass-covered agger or mound.

In terms of understanding the Roman occupation of north-east Yorkshire, the existence of a road would pose questions as to the importance the Roman authorities, presumably the army, placed on a land route between Malton and the coast whenever in the Roman period it was constructed.

Medieval

Similarly, if the monument were medieval or used in the medieval period, it would provide evidence of the importance placed on the upland region, primarily perhaps in terms of mineral resources by those building or using it.

Prehistoric

The monument would be no less significant if it represented a prehistoric boundary of some kind. Whether later Neolithic or early Bronze Age, it would demonstrate evidence of either a massive communal effort to define an area of territory, or the ability of an elite to force the wider population to do so.


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