Margary numbers are the numbering scheme developed by the historian Ivan Margary to catalogue known and suspected Roman roads in Britain in his 1955 work The Roman Roads of Britain.[1] They remain the standard system used by archaeologists and historians to identify individual Roman roads within Britain.[1] It is not known how the Romans identified the roads they built within Britain, and well-known names such as Watling Street and the Fosse Way largely date from the Anglo-Saxon period, are sometimes ambiguous or duplicated, and cover only a small proportion of the known network.[2]

Margary's numbering system follows similar conventions to modern road numbering systems.[1] He divided roads into three categories: Main Routes are given single-digit numbers, Principal Branches two-digit numbers and Minor Branches three digit numbers.[3] Individual sections of longer routes are identified by adding letters to the route number, for example Dere Street (Margary 8) is divided into sections 8a, 8b, 8c, 8d and 8e.[1] Double letters are sometimes used to indicate parallel or alternative routes.[2] Lesser roads in particular areas are given similar numbers – for example many roads in Wales have numbers in the 60s.[2]

Margary's cataloguing system has been criticised as being essentially arbitrary in several respects.[4] Margary's hierarchy of routes is not necessarily that of the original designers or users of the network.[5] Evidence for whether the Romans considered different lengths of road to form parts of a single route can be ambiguous, so the fact that they are given a single Margary number can be misleading.[1] Margary's network also largely consists of roads built by the Romans, not necessarily roads used by the Romans, who may have continued to use native British trackways.[6]

Margary's system is nonetheless widely used for its practicality,[4] and the awarding of a Margary number to a route came to be considered a hallmark of authenticity among researchers in the field.[7]

Main routes and principal branches

Margary number Traditional name Route[8]
1 Watling Street Dover – (1a) – Canterbury – (1b) – Rochester – (1c) – London – (1d) – St. Albans – (1e) – Towcester – (1f) – High Cross – (1g) – Wall – (1h) – Wroxeter
2 Ermine Street London – (2a) – Braughing – (2b) – Chesterton – (2c) – Lincoln – (2d) – Brough – (2e) – York
3 Great Road/Pye Road London – (3a) – Chelmsford – (3b) – Colchester – (3c) – Baylham – (3d) – Caistor St Edmund
4 Port Way London – (4a) – Silchester – (4b) – Old Sarum – (4c) – Badbury Rings – (4d) – Dorchester – (4e) – Poole Harbour – (4f) – Exeter
5 Fosse Way Axmouth – (5a) – Ilchester – (5b) – Bath – (5c) – Cirencester – (5d) – High Cross – (5e) – Leicester – (5f) – Lincoln
6 Watling Street (West) Chester – (6a) – Wroxeter – (6b) – Leintwardine – (6c) – Monmouth – (6d) – Chepstow
7 Chester – (7a) – Manchester – (7b) – Ribchester – (7c) – Low Barrow Bridge – (7d) – Brougham – (7e) – Carlisle – (7f) – Crawford – (7g) – Cramond
8 Dere Street York – (8a) – Aldborough – (8b) – Catterick Bridge – (8c) – Binchester – (8d) – Corbridge – (8e) – High Rochester – (8f) – Newstead – (8g) – Dalkeith
9 Camelon – (9a) – Strageath – (9b) – Kirriemuir
10 CanterburyRichborough
11 CanterburyUpstreet
12 Stone Street CanterburyLympne
13 RochesterHastings
14 LondonLewes
15 Stane Street LondonChichester
16 Akeman Street St. Albans – (16a) – Alchester – (16b) – Cirencester
17 NortonDuston
18 Ryknild Street Bourton-on-the-Water – (18a) – Alcester – (18b) – Wall – (18c) – Little Chester – (18d) – Chesterfield – (18e) – Rotherham
19 StrettonWhitchurch
21 St. Albans – (21a) – Braughing – (21b) – Worsted Lodge
22 BraughingGodmanchester
23 Akeman Street Arrington – (23a) – Cambridge – (23b) – Littleport
24 Via Devana GodmanchesterSible Hedingham
25 The Fen Road UptonDenver, Norfolk
26 King Street AilsworthAncaster
27 LincolnBurgh-le-Marsh
28 Lincoln – (28a) – Doncaster – (28b) – Tadcaster – (28c) – York
29 South Newbould – Malton
30 ClaptonGreat Dunmow
31 Bradwell on Sea
32 Stane Street BraughingColchester
33 Peddars Way Chelmsford – (33a) – Ixworth – (33b) – Holme next the Sea
34 Wixoe – (34a) – Baylham – (34b) – Peasenhall
35 Pulham St. MaryPeasenhall
36 Stone Street HalesworthWoodton
37 BunwellThetford
38 HalesworthWoodton
39 ToftreesHolkham
41 Ermin Street Silchester – (41a) – Speen – (41b) – Cirencester – (41c) – Gloucester
42 Silchester – (42a) – Winchester – (42b) – Bitterne
43 WinchesterWanborough
44 Old SarumMildenhall
45 Winchester – (45a) – Old Sarum – (45b) – Charterhouse
46 Badbury Rings – Kingston Deverall
47 DorchesterIlchester
48 DorchesterWeymouth
49 CharmouthExeter
51 IlchesterPuriton
52 BathFrome
53 SpeenBath
54 BathSea Mills
55 White Way CirencesterHailes
56 Finmere – (56a) – Eatington – (56b) – Droitwich
57 Huntingdon – (57a) – Leicester – (57b) – Mancetter
58 Six Hills – (58a) – Grantham – (58b) – Donington
60 Newnham – (60a) – Caerleon – (60b) – Cardiff – (60c) – Neath – (60d) – Carmarthen
61 GloucesterMitcheldean
62 Sarn Helen (East) Caerleon – (62a) – Brecon – (62b) – Llandovery – (62c) – Llanfair Clydogau
63 Stretton Grandison – (63a) – Kenchester – (63b) – Brecon
64 WroxeterTrefeglwys
66 Chester – (66a) – Caer Gai – (66b) – Dolgellau
67 Chester – (67a) – St. Asaph – (67b) – Caerhun – (67c) – Caernarfon
68 CaernarfonCaer Gai
69 Sarn Helen Caerhun – (69a) – Tomen y Mur – (69b) – Pennal – (69c) – Llanio – (69d) – Carmarthen
70 King Street Sandbach – (70a) – Warrington – (70b) – Wigan – (70c) – Preston – (70d) – Lancaster
71 The Street Little Chester – (71a) – Buxton – (71b) – Manchester
72 Ribchester – (72a) – Ilkley – (72b) – Tadcaster
73 Ingleton – Brough by Bainbridge
74 High Street BroughamTroutbeck
75 CarlisleEgremont
76 LockerbieLochmaben
77 Well Path CrawfordDalswinton
78 Roberton – (78a) – Castledykes – (78b) – Glasgow
79 Peebles – (79a) – Castledykes – (79b) – Loudoun Hill
80 Barmby – (80a) – Durham – (80b) – Newcastle upon Tyne
81 Wade's Causeway York – (81a) – Malton – (81b) – Whitby
82 Scotch CornerBrougham
83 WillingtonDurham
84 Maiden Way Kirkby ThoreCarvoran
85 Stanegate Corbridge – (85a) – Carvoran – (85b) – Carlisle
86 Military Way Wallsend – (86a) – Portgate – (86b) – Carvoran – (86c) – Carlisle – (86d) – Bowness-on-Solway
87 Devil's Causeway Bewclay – Tweedmouth
88 High Rochester – Whittingam
89 LockerbieNewstead
90 The Military Way BridgenessOld Kilpatrick

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Davies 2008, p. 46.
  2. ^ a b c Davies 2002, p. 168.
  3. ^ Bishop 2014, p. 138.
  4. ^ a b Davies 2002, p. 24.
  5. ^ Bishop 2014, p. 120.
  6. ^ Bishop 2014, p. 121.
  7. ^ Bagshawe 1979, pp. 9–10.
  8. ^ Bishop 2014, pp. 138–139.

Bibliography