If you are interested in history, the Wheeldale Roman Road in the North York Moors is an excellent place to visit.
The Wheeldale Roman Road is an enigmatic mile-long stretch of ancient road surrounded by wild and beautiful moorland, situated near both Goathland and Whitby.
Although the exact origins of the road are unclear, it is widely believed to be of Roman origin, although it could date from a later or earlier period. The road still retains its sturdy core and well-maintained drainage ditches.
How to visit Wheeldale Roman Road
Entry is free, and you can visit at any reasonable time during daylight hours. It is possible to park on the roadside, but please take care.
History of Wheeldale Roman Road
The significance of the Wheeldale road is open to debate, depending on whether it is indeed a Roman road or is of earlier or later origin.
The Wheeldale Roman Road, a linear monument located on Wheeldale Moor, was initially documented as “Wade’s Causeway – a Roman Way” on a map in 1720. The site is referred to as Wade’s Causeway, a name derived from a local tale that suggests the road connecting the residence of a giant named Wade, who lived at Mulgrave Castle, with that of his wife, Bel, who resided at Pickering Castle.
Throughout the years, most accounts of the region refer to it as a part of a Roman road, which was traced over various distances from Amotherby, located near Malton in the south, to the coast north of Whitby, covering approximately 33 to 35 miles. However, recent research suggests that it might be of medieval origin or have been a modified boundary feature from the Neolithic or early Bronze Age rather than a road.
A Roman Road?
The most comprehensive published study on the site’s existence as a Roman road follows the southern segment of the proposed path through a series of alignments by plotting the locations where Roman objects were discovered. Combined with the topography of the vast wetlands in the Vale of Pickering. Roman and other artefacts were found primarily on higher ground areas. To the north of the visible section, potential routes to the southern boundary of the Esk Valley have been identified by plotting Roman discoveries.
Several theories have been proposed to explain the purpose of this road. The primary suggested associations are with the Roman military complex at Cawthorn Camps on the moors’ southern side, the Roman fort at Malton, the Roman fort on Lease Rigg located between the valleys of the rivers Esk and Murk Esk, a hypothetical early Roman fort near or north of Whitby, and the late 4th-century “signal stations” along the Yorkshire coast.
Places to visit nearby
If you’re visiting the area, there are several things you can do that are close to the road:
Explore Wheeldale Moor: Take a walk on Wheeldale Moor and enjoy the stunning views of the North York Moors. You can also see the remains of ancient settlements and burial mounds. Learn more about the Wheeldale Moor Circular walk here.
Visit the Hole of Horcum: The Hole of Horcum is a large natural amphitheatre located just south of the Wheeldale Roman Road. It’s a popular spot for hiking and picnics, and several trails lead down into the valley.
Visit Goathland: Goathland is a picturesque village just a few miles from the Wheeldale Roman Road. It’s famous for its connection to the TV series “Heartbeat,” and the village has a pub, shops, and a cafe.
Ride the North Yorkshire Moors Railway: The North Yorkshire Moors Railway is a heritage railway that runs from Pickering to Whitby, passing through several villages along the way. You can catch a train from Goathland station, just a short distance from the Wheeldale Roman Road.
Of course, visit Whitby! Whitby is a popular seaside town that is located on the coast, just a few miles from the Wheeldale Roman Road. It’s famous for its historic Abbey, which inspired Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” as well as its fish and chips and beautiful beaches.
The Wheeldale Roman Road is an excellent place for those interested in history, archaeology or seeking a unique outdoor adventure amid the stunning North York Moors landscape. So, if you are planning a visit to this area, be sure to add this ancient road to your itinerary and discover the mysteries of this ancient roadway for yourself.