A little corner of Roman history.

Ryknild Street (RM18c). Gallow Bridge to Monk’s Bridge – 5.4 miles.

The route described today

From here the line of the Roman road is under the southbound carriage way of the modern road to near Gallow Bridge, south of Burton-upon-Trent. Before that, the modern road bypasses Barton Turns to the east where the old road can be seen to the left. At the milepost 200 yards short of Gallow Bridge the A38 swerves away north on its current course while the Roman road continued on its alignment to pass through Branston. After crossing the B5018 near The Blacksmiths Arms, it follows Clays Lane and through Beans Covert, where the Roman road’s agger can be seen (SK228218).

From Beans Covert the A5121 runs alongside the Roman road – crossing the A5189/B5017 on the way – as far as the one-way system by the Town Hall. From here the A road is on the Roman line again to the A511 junction at Derby Turn, then to the B5018 roundabout at the Pirelli Football Stadium (home of Burton Albion FC), and on to close by the Claymills Pumping Station. Here the A road swings north to meet the A38 at Clay Mills GSJ while the Roman road continued straight to the river Dove crossing at Monk’s Bridge (SK267269).[1]

From Pastscape

Monument Number: 929354.  Location: SK 2283 2170.

  • Ryknild Street at Bean’s Covert. (Taken from annotations on large scale map strips with Linear Archive File RR 18c)
  • (SK 2284 2170 – SK 2287 2175) “Ploughed down agger as gravelly ridge 18m wide and 0.3m high across ploughed field.”
  • (SK 2294 2183 – SK 2301 2193) “Agger survives through copse averaging 10m wide and 0.5m high.” Surveyed at 1:2500 ([2])
  • (SK 2284 2170 – SK 2287 2175) Slight ridge across playing field.
  • (SK 2294 2183 – SK 2301 2193) No change. ([3])

The agger (between SK 2284 2170 – SK 2287 2175) described by authorities 1 and 2 was not seen on good quality APs. However, cropmarks of four ditches on slightly different alignments (with a  maximum length of 142m) were seen. These probably represent flanking ditches of the road which may have been recut, hence the differing alignments.  (Morph No. FR.86.19.1) ([4])

Monument Number: 929355.   Location: SK 2317 2212

Potential cropmark ditch of Roman date seen as a single linear feature defined by one ditch, with a maximum length of 68m. This is probably a flanking ditch belonging to Rynkild Street. Mapped using good quality AP’s.  (Morph No. FR.86.20.1) ([5])

 Description by Ivan D Margary

Near Branston, on the outskirts of Burton upon Trent, the present road curves a little to the west, to keep away from the river, and it is possible that this may be an original modification for that reason.  The old line is now lost at the entrance to Burton, where the present road swings to the east, but it may be represented for a short distance from the north end of Branston by the course of Clays Lane, and then, after a short gap, by Wellington Street in Burton, and by Derby Street till it joins the main road again, which then follows the alignment onwards.

At Stretton, The River dove had to be crossed near its junction with the Trent, and the old road made a direct crossing which has long since been destroyed by the rivers, and by the works for the canal which also crosses there.[6]

Location points

Gallow Bridge (A38) SK21522017

Gallow Bridge on alignment SK21602014

Crossing Main Street, Branston SK22442118

North end of Clays Lane SK22822170

Bean’s Covert SK22942183 – SK23012193

Ordish’s Covert (SK23282228)

Watercourse SK23612276

Old field boundaries SK23672284 – SK23822301

Boundaries at rear of properties SK23872307 – SK24102334

Junction of Derby Street and Byrkley Street SK24212349

Derby Turn (old location) SK24612401

River Dove crossing SK26862692


[1] sabre-roads.org.uk/wiki/index.php?title=RM18c

[2] V J Burton/19-MARCH-1958/Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Field Investigator

[3] D J Chapman/22-JAN-1975/Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Field Investigator

[4] Antonia Kershaw/21-APR-1993/RCHME: National Forest Project

[5] Antonia Kershaw/21-APR-1993/RCHME: National Forest Project

[6] ‘Roman Roads in Britain’ Third edition (1973), 305.

2 thoughts on “A little corner of Roman history.”

  1. I am trying to locate the line of Ryknild Street near to Gallow Bridge and I have found some likely pottery fragments. St Modwen Homes are doing some excavation here as part of their Branston Leas development. Does anyone know if the Roman Gallow crossing was a ford or a bridge? There is now little remaining from Gallow Bridge to Clays Lane due to development and gravel extraction.

    1. Hi Roger,

      Sorry I’ve been slow to reply. Busy, busy.

      Generally speaking, the Roman military seldom built bridges in the conquest period but only once the route had become or was becoming a road.

      Ryknild Street probably would have emerged during the Flavian period (69-96AD). The Roman fort at Strutt’s Park in Derby was built at this time. I reckon the River Dove and Tatenhill Brook were bridged, and other watercourses in the area were culverted or bridged then. I’m not aware of any archaeological investigations in the Gallows Bridge area, although some may have been carried out recently as a statutory requirement of the A8 corridor development.

      Sorry I can’t be of more help. Burton is not rich on Roman remains. The walk through Beans Covert is pleasant though.


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