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Blast From the Past V

Image 1 for Blast From the Past V Blast5/1.jpeg Members at work cleaning off the surviving road surface at Thorpe Audlin in 1983.

Image 2 for Blast From the Past V Blast5/2.jpeg. Members at work on the latest stretch of Roman road to be revealed near Hundhill in 2005.


When PontArc was formed in 1957, the first committee drew up a list of priorities. One of these was the tracing and recording of local Roman roads. In this area we are lucky enough to have the Roman equivalent of The Great North Road. It is called M28b, and leaves the line of the A1 at Barnsdale Bar, to follow the present A639 to East Hardwick where it strikes over the fields to cross the River Aire just above the weir at Castleford.

It was not until the 1980s that PontArc became involved with this highway. In that year Don Barratt, a member found a scattered hoard of late Roman coins in a field near Thorpe Audlin. Permission from the landowner was obtained, and several seasons of work were carried out.

Later, after the turn of the century, farmer the late Peter Thorpe found a Roman Milestone on his land, and gave the Society permission to excavated the road here close to Hundhill. The first attempt was abortive as medieval ploughing had removed all traces of the structure, leaving just the roadside ditch.

More recently, with the permission and help of subsequent landowners north of the railway line, the road has been found and thoroughly investigated. Amongst the discoveries were Roman pot- holes, contemporary repairs, and even ruts. Today, this particular stretch of M28b is the most intensively excavated and studied stretch of Roman road in Britain, possibly Europe.