UK: Archaeologists are using LiDAR (light detection and ranging) data – which is typically used for flood modelling – to pinpoint the location of hundreds of miles of Roman roads in the north of England. The technique will help in discovering Roman roads and forts.
Their discoveries are giving clues to a neglected chapter in the history of Roman Britain almost 2,000 years ago when these roads helped Rome's legions conquer and control northern England. For decades after the 43AD Roman invasion of Britain, a large region of the North, including what is now Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumbria, was controlled by a Celtic tribe known as the Brigantes.
Roman writer Tacitus wrote it was the collapse of the marriage between Queen Cartimandua of the Brigantes – a Roman ally and her husband Venetius – that led to a showdown with Rome. Following their divorce, Venetius organised a revolt in 69AD and Cartimandua fled. The Emperor Vespasian then sent a force under Britain's new governor, Quintus Petilius Cerialis, to put down the rebellion and conquer northern England.
Building roads to link up forts and settlements across this rugged landscape was a vital part of this decades-long conquest of the North. Archaeologists have used Environment Agency LiDAR data to find seven of these important routes in two years. Maps were created by aircraft equipped with laser scanners, which measure the distance between the aircraft and the ground.
Amateur archaeologist and retired road engineer David Ratledge,70, who has been researching Roman roads in Lancashire for 45 years, has used LiDAR data to find an 11-mile (17km) long road between Ribchester and Lancaster. He told The Times it is the first 'new' Roman road to be discovered in the UK for 150 years. 'These were the county's most important Roman sites so good communications between them must have been essential,' he said.