The Roman road approaching Little Chester from the Trent at Sawley follows the course of the modern A6005 [Nottingham Road] through the eastern part of Derby, continuing in a straight line to cross the Racecourse playing fields, turning at the northwest corner in a westerly direction along the line of the Old Chester Road to join Ryknield Street immediately outside the east gate of the fort. (1)
A section of what is assumed to be this road was uncovered in a field adjoining Derby Racecourse in 1910. It lay under 8 inches of turf and was described as being 12ft wide, with metalling of heavy coarse sandstone covered with a 3 inch layer of smooth gravel. A number of fragments of coarse earthenware and roofing tiles were found, but none appeared to be Roman. No traces of ditches were observed. (2)
Sections of the road on the Derby Racecourse were excavated in 1974. Excavation showed it to have been c. 4.5m wide when originally constructed , composed of pebble and gravel mixed with some orange sand and surfaced with a compacted layer of pebbles set with occasional large stones. Some of the latter had evidently been laid as a repair. There was some evidence that the road was subsequently widened. The construction encountered in 1974 differed significantly from a stretch of road examined in 1910 which was found to be twelve feet wide, with metalling consisting of heavy coarse sandstone boulders overlain by a three inch layer of gravel. About 2m south of the road and parallel to it was an irregular linear feature interpreted as a series of shallow scoops, probably representing quarrying for clay to provide a foundation for the road metalling. Immediately south of the road were two parallel shallow gullies, probably drainage gullies for the road. One had presumably replaced the other. There was a more substantial ditch c. 3.5m to 4m north of the road. There was little direct dating evidence for the road; however, it was probably constructed shortly after the establishment of the fort at Little Chester in the 80s AD. (3)
Article in serial: Brassington, M. 1981. 'The Roman roads of Derby', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol. 101, pp 88-92. p 92.
Article in serial: Smithard, W. 1913. 'Records and traces of old roads near Derby', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 35, pp 111-136.
Article in serial: Dool, J. 1985. 'Derby Racecourse: excavations on the Roman Industrial Settlement, 1970', in 'Roman Derby: Excavations 1968-1983', Derbyshire Archaological Journal. Volume 105, pp 155-221.
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