Register of ancient monuments

Reference number 1005819

Roman Road And Blackstone Edge
Rochdale Road
Sowerby Bridge


Visit date 31/AUG/1981

This road is marked on the OS map as 'Dhoul's Pavement' and 'Old Packhorse Road.' It leaves the Halifax-Rochdale turnpike road at New Gate End Bridge on the Yorkshire side and almost rejoins it a little after the 11th milestone from Halifax on the Lancashire side. At first it traverses the bare rock, but as it ascends on the Yorkshire side to the summit, it is paved. Across the summit there is no trace of paving for a short distance. As it descends on the Lancashire side the pavement begins again with the peculiar channel stones in the centre. On the Yorkshire side, pavement has been damaged in places by blocking of a drain which passed under the road. It has also been cut across by drains in places.

Road about 16ft - 17ft wide having kerb stones and central channel. It is covered in most places with vegetation, but evident on the Lancashire side for most of the distance to the summit. It is crossed by a modern culvert and the surface is broken just below the summit on either side. The road surface is more covered on the Yorkshire side through the line is seen clearly enough. An area of tip and fill covers a section east of Rishworth Drain and a change in the watercourse has cut through the road about 100yds further East. At intervals a line of stones laid transversely across the road surface, perhaps a demarcation line beginning a section. The end of the of the line of the road is at a small packhorse bridge over a stream consisting of three built up columns with large stones laid across {2}.

Visit date: 21/AUG/1985

The road varies in form but the average width is about 12ft and the scheduled stretch is about 4.5 miles long. The eastern end begins beside New Gate End Bridge on the A58 road going across the Pennines between Yorkshire and Lancashire. After running down a steep bank, the Roman road track crosses the old Clapper Bridge over Black Castle Clough (a beck). The track then climbs Fairy Hill and Spa Hill and along this stretch the surface is covered with reeds and bog. About 0.5 mile from the main road the Roman road surface is formed by bedrock and beyond this point blocks of stone forming the original paved surface can be detected sticking out of the grass and a hard rubble core felt underfoot. Approximately 1 mile from the eastern end a stream cuts right through the track. This has revealed its internal structure of a hard core of cobbles with a top layer of stone blocks. Access to the next section is by a wooden footbridge over a Water Board channel. The next section is very boggy but at intervals the paving and the gutters can be seen through the overlying mat of vegetation. The county boundary lies approximately on the watershed, the highest point of the road. From here the road runs down a steep slope towards the A58 where it curves towards Littleborough. Part way down it is again disrupted by Water Board construction. It is along this stretch that the nature of the surface is clearly revealed. A cross section would reveal a paved surface about 12ft wide with a line of raised kerbstones on the outsides and a shallow gutter running besides them. Two deep gutters run down the centre and the rest of the surface is paved with blocks. It appears that wheeled vehicles may have run down the centre of the road with a wheel in each gutter. Alternatively they may have used the central ridge (about 1ft wide) and one of the outer paved surfaces on one side of the road. At intervals a culvert covered with slabs runs across the road, possibly to drain the surface. {3}

Last Updated: 07/10/2004