Skip to comments.'Roman' roads were actually built by the Celts, new book claims
Posted on 10/13/2013 4:02:10 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
The findings of Graham Robb, a biographer and historian, bring into question two millennia of thinking about Iron Age Britain and Europe and the stereotyped image of Celts as barbarous, superstitious tribes...
"They had their own road system on which the Romans later based theirs," Mr Robb said, adding that the roads were built in Britain from around the 1st Century BC.
"It has often been wondered how the Romans managed to build the Fosse Way, which goes from Exeter to Lincoln. They must have known what the finishing point would be, but they didn't conquer that part of Britain until decades later. How did they manage to do that if they didn't follow the Celtic road?"
Mr Robb, former fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, first came up with the theory when he planned to cycle the Via Heraklea, an ancient route that runs a thousand miles in a straight line from the tip of the Iberian Peninsula to the Alps, and realised that it was plotted along the solstice lines through several Celtic settlements.
He mapped the positioning of hundreds of other towns and cities in France, Britain and Ireland and found that the Celt's had organised them to mirror the paths of their Sun God, created a network straight of tracks following the solstice lines across swathes of the continent...
"There is a lot of admiring what the Romans did, but they didn't do it in a void, and it might be nice if there was a more nuanced view of the almighty Romans."
(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...
Part of the Fosse Way in Gloucestershire, which a new book claims was built by the Celts, not the Romans [Photo: ALAMY]
I don't know if that image is widespread. The La Tene culture is seen as pretty advanced.
They didn’t build anything. Obama did.
The Celts: Just doing the work the Romans wouldn’t do.
This isn’t particularly new info, so I don’t understand the fuss. The romans often paved over existing roads. They’ve been uncovering the vestiges of the older wooden roads. Most of the towns the roman roads tied together through out Europe, already existed... and it would be ridiculous to think they didn’t have roads that led to and fro. In Germany they found the imprints of a pre roman wooden highway which was wider than anything the romans were building.
The Romans have the historical advantage... they built to last and kept meticulous records.
You take the high road and I’ll take the low road, and I’ll be in Scotland before ye.
Yeah, but the Celts just based their road system on the Ley Lines established by the Atlanteans, so really, this guy should just shut up.
Great article. Thanks, SC.
The celts built, what could best be called trails and in some cases improved trails, in today’s lingo.
The Romans built solid lasting road structures. Sometimes over those trail (roads) sometimes not.
Every culture and every period of mankind has created whatever “roads” the peeps felt needful or could afford. In most cases, though, the “roads” were not much more than trails cut through the foliage with dirt compacted by traffic.
They're driving on the wrong side of the road.
Paths worn by goats and other animals were followed by cave men who later widened them and developed them as trails under the city-states and then cleared them wider for wagons and on and on. Eventually they were transformed into superhighways.
I wasn’t surprised to find that other title shown above — there was a newsletter out of the UK called “Stonehenge Viewpoint” which was published on newsprint but was pro-lookin’, unrefereed journal that I used to get. There were some whoppers in there about the mystical ley lines that accounted for “the old straight track”, and reviews of books about the “alignments” of various monuments and mounds which were of wildly different dates — apparently the “alignments” were incomplete for a hundreds or thousands of years until some much later group (from a different culture or five) finally got around to completing it. This author appears to be of the same school.
The Romans built roads where they needed, and they are known to not follow existing routes most of the time — however, important, busy routes are bound to have been upgraded to the Roman roads, a number of which have been repaved in modern times. There’s one road they laid in Britain that runs straight to miss a pre-Roman oppida, makes a slight turn, and then straight from there to the destination.
From time to time (particularly in Britain) a stretch of forgotten Roman road is uncovered during some public project (pipe, road, visitor center) or when someone is excavating for a private home or other privately owned structure. A few years back one was found running into an apparent dead end at an inlet, apparently to a small Roman-era harbor. Haven’t found the topic, I’m sure it’s around here somewhere.
What the Romans didn’t do for us [sic]
[snip] The unexpected result was a more than 80% chance that the last surface had been laid before the Roman invasion in AD43. Wood in the foundation was radiocarbon-dated to the second century BC, sealing the road’s pre-Roman origin. And Malim thinks a huge post that stood in 1500BC close to the crest of the hill was a trackway marker... Could Britain have been more “Roman” than was thought... Shropshire’s road, then, could be the start of a journey that changes the way we think about early Britain. [/snip]
(the RC age of the wood is merely the age it grew, not the date it was cut, and obviously trees of some age or other would have to be cut down to lay the road)
Experts uncover second Roman fort on city site
[snip] Now ditches on a different alignment to those of the first fort have been found, and Mr Gent told the Echo: “The new V-shaped ditch cuts through trenches that were dug to hold timbers for the first fort’s barrack blocks — these are long fairly narrow linear trenches. This shows that the army used the site again at a later date. “It looks as if we now have three military establishments in Exeter — the known fortress in town, our new fort at St Loye’s, and now this further new evidence”. [/snip]
[Dorset] Motorway maximus:
Unearthed, a stunning Roman super-highway built 1,900 years ago
Roman roads in Britain
Another problem with this thesis is, the bridges — after the Romans pulled out, most of the bridges vanished in Britain. The ones made of wood became unsafe and/or burned or fell down. The stone bridges were scavenged for construction, or to create a barrier for invaders of a local fief. A Briton I used to know a little was a self-taught master of locating buried ancient coins and whatnot using metal detectors; he said the post-Roman period saw the rise of the “birdfoot”. With no bridges, the old Roman roads were used right up to the top of the slopes down to the waterways, then new lanes (cobbles or worse) in a switchback pattern came into use to reach a nearby ford, ferry, or (rarely) a “Dark Ages” bridge.
Roman bridge put back together again
Survey shows up Roman remains near Cockermouth and Papcastle
Roman villa found in Welsh ‘military zone’
Ancient Roman Road Found In Netherlands
Long-distance oak supply in mid-2nd century AD... Roman harbour in the Netherlands
‘Dutch’ Batavians more Roman than thought
Keeping Up With The Empire (Romans In Netherlands)
Ancient Roman road map unveiled
sidebars — wouldn’t this be cool?
Chariot Races Bring Ancient Roman City Back to Life
A Worldwide Push To Bring Back Chariot Racing
Ben Hur in Colchester? Race is on to save UK’s only Roman chariot racetrack
Here’s another example of “you didn’t build that”:
Romans May Have Learned From Chinese Great Wall: Archaeologists
Whoops, sorry, that was kinda long.
No probs at all with long posts. Especially ones that are so informative.
I wonder who built the roads around here? It seems like it’s been about 2000 years since they were last paved.
I call BS. Our rails were not from the Celts.
What about the Roman roads in places that the Celts never visited?
But mindless contrarians buy books in large numbers, so he’ll make a wad on it anyway.
More info on this study and the book, including a map and lists of places and such,
:’) It reminds me of the Monty Python sketch where the guy claims to be the real author of Shakespeare’s plays, and his wife wrote the sonnets. The host of the fake show points out that the plays are known to have been performed nearly 400 years before he was born.
Thinking of the origins of that road being centuries old reminds me of driving an old portion of a state road this past summer that had been abandoned 40+ years ago for a four lane 1/2 mile away.
The old road had not been maintained in that time frame and was buckled, potholed and down to one lane width right down the centerline due to vegetation overgrowth. It was like something out of a post apocalyptic movie.
In full disclosure, my earlier post was trying to describe a general process, not a strict pattern followed in all cases. Parts of El Camino Real, for instance, are now Interstate 5 here in So Cal. No doubt parts of El Camino Real were Indian trails before the arrival of the Spanish.
Herodotus wrote of the huge road network in the Persian Empire and of the messengers who neither sleet nor snow or gloom of night would delay them, or something similar to that.
BTW was the road to Damascus where st. Paul was struck blind, a Roman road?
I recall posting on FR, a few years back, an article about British-Celtic roads made from logs and planks. The article claimed that the road network was extensive and well-engineered, and that the Romans simply covered over the existing British wood roads with stone pavement.
He also seems off on his dates. The Fosse Way location was in Roman hands by 47 and for a time was more or less the frontier. There is some speculation that the "Fosse" may have been a ditch or some kind of earthwork defensive system that was not needed after the completion of the conquest.
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