“A thousand roads lead men forever to Rome”; Alain de Lille, 1175

All content © Roman Roads Research Association 2016, all rights reserved; unless otherwise stated.

 a charity registered in England & Wales, no  1163854.


 Ivan Margary’s “Roman Roads in Britain”, last published in 1973, represented a fairly comprehensive assessment of the nation’s Roman road network as it was understood at the time. Unfortunately, it has all too often been assumed that after Margary’s work our knowledge and understanding of the Roman road network was reasonably complete, an assumption that has led to a lack of serious study within professional archaeology (with the notable exception of roads in Wales), and a failure to acknowledge that we are probably only reasonably certain of about 40% of the network at best.

For the last forty years and more, the serious study of Roman roads has largely been left to a handful of disparate individuals and small amateur groups, with little or no co-ordination or cooperation between them. Neither has it helped that the subject has, on occasions, attracted individuals whose enthusiasm has been rather more evident than their objectivity. The RRRA was formed to bring those disparate individuals together, and to coordinate a nationwide programme of research ensuring a consistent and high quality approach.

Our Aims

Why Are Roman Roads so Important?

It’s a bit like asking, “What did the Romans ever do for us?” Every day millions of us still drive along roads first laid out by Roman surveyors nearly 2000 years ago (such as Oxford Street in London, and large parts of the A1, A5 and A66); roads that link many of our major towns and cities such as London, Manchester and York, all with Roman origins. It’s no exaggeration to say that Rome laid some of the foundations upon which our country was eventually built. We are all rightly proud of this island’s heritage, but how can we hope to fully understand the part played by Rome without first understanding the road network which kept Britannia functioning?  

Roman roads are all too often seen as merely links between Roman sites, with the emphasis placed upon the sites themselves rather than the whole infrastructure. We cannot understand the whole picture if we do not first understand how and why the infrastructure developed, why forts are where they are and why settlement patterns developed; we can do none of that without an accurate picture of the development of the road network.   

Who are we?

RRRA was established in 2015 by two experienced Roman roads researchers and independent archaeologists, Mike Haken and the late Hugh Toller, and is now a charity registered in England and Wales.

Membership is open to everyone, and our four hundred or so members come from a wide range of backgrounds ranging from those with just a general interest in our Roman heritage to professional archaeologists from both the public sector and commercial units, alongside  seasoned Roman roads researchers.  

A little about R·R·R·A

Why is the RRRA needed now?

Over the last couple of decades, the technologies available to us for archaeological research, such as LiDAR and Geophysical survey, have enabled researchers to identify the remains of hundreds of miles of previously unknown Roman roads, along with associated Roman sites. At the same time, modern agricultural methods with bigger and ever more powerful machinery, alongside ever expanding urban development, have been steadily removing these features from the landscape.  

It is now often a race against time to discover and record what we can of the 60% of the Roman road network about which we are still uncertain, whilst there is still evidence left to find.

Where do we operate?

The RRRA is currently based in Yorkshire, however we are very much a national organisation, with an international membership - our 400 or so members come from as far afield as Japan and Australia. We were formed to advance knowledge of the Roman road network and promote the study of Roman roads and Roman heritage throughout the former Roman province of Britannia, which includes the modern countries of England, Wales, and at different times in the Roman period, much of southern and eastern Scotland.

What are our main aims?

The Roman Roads Research Association was formed to advance knowledge of the Roman road network and promote the study of Roman roads and Roman heritage throughout the former Roman province of Britannia. Our three main aims in pursuit of those objectives are to

  • Bring together all known information on Roman roads in Britain, and make a summary of it publicly and freely accessible as an online gazetteer.
  • Identify key sites where important questions still need to be answered and organise or support the fieldwork necessary to answer those questions. Wherever fieldwork is done, we endeavour to train volunteers to both conduct the work, and write up the reports.
  • Encourage the involvement of as many people as possible in our activities, whether RRRA members or not. We are passionate about community and volunteer involvement in archaeology, and the promoting of the huge benefits it can have to communities, to individuals, and to the archaeological record.

How will we achieve our aims?

Thanks largely to modern technologies such as LiDAR, our knowledge has moved on substantially since Ivan Margary published "Roman Roads in Britain" in the 1950s, yet the 1972 edition of his book remains the standard reference work on Roman roads in Britain. Our first objective is to complete a new survey of all the known Roman roads in Britain, collating and re-assessing all the known evidence for each individual road, and publishing the results in our new online Gazetteer, "The Roads of Roman Britain". This huge task began in 2016, and is tackling the country one region at a time, with Yorkshire already completed. North West England will follow during 2018, followed by North East England soon after. We aim to complete the whole country by 2028.

This work will also highlight areas and sites which need further work, such as excavation or geophysical survey. To foster greater cooperation between different groups, we will be working in partnership with local organisations to carry out the fieldwork identified during the national survey. We will also be arranging a series of events including talks, seminars and conferences, to be held online via Zoom or similar technologies.