Drone technology possibly revealed a section of a Roman road in Northumberland


An ancient Roman road in Northumberland running from Portgate on Hadrian’s Wall (near the Errington Arms) to the mouth of the River Tweed has been called the Devil’s Causeway by scholars and archaeologists. And while the route is known, actual archaeological evidence of the track in various places is rather scant. Interestingly enough, recently a feature crossing the site north of Matfen caught the attention of some researchers, which resulted in a debate in the academic world, with some hypothesizing how it is a remnant of the Devil’s Causeway, while others dismissed it as a part of an old dry stone wall. However, an actual assessment of the site carried out by AAG Archaeologists, by cutting trenches (for viewing the cross-section), revealed how the remains may have indeed been a part of an ancient Roman road.

The primary hypothesis of AAG Archaeologists is based on their discovery of a stone spine that bears similarity to the ones found at excavations of the Devil’s Causeway near Netherwitton in 2001 and Shellbraes in 1937. According to Jon Welsh, the leader of the recent project conducted by AAG Archaeologists –

When we looked at all the available evidence and alternative theories, it always kept coming back to the Devil’s Causeway being the only viable explanation. The layer of possible metalling doesn’t seem to be the core of a wall, it seems too small to be anything other than the metalling of the Devil’s Causeway.


Quite intriguingly, the archaeological team found the remnants of a Roman knife and buckle at the site, which further alludes to the possibility of how this section might have been a part of the Devil’s Causeway. Moreover, the experts could also map the scale and features of the relatively large area by using drone technology. As Cleo McQuarrie, who took part in the project, said –

One of the problems we had was that the site was so big we couldn’t see all of it at once. But every time we sent a drone up, it started to look more and more like a Roman road. The technology is amazing; it’s like having your own satellite images in real time on demand.

Source: Hexham-Courant

All Images Credit: AAG Archaeologists

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