The Royal Archaeological Institute (RAI) is a leading national archaeology society, with a history dating back to 1844. Its interests span all aspects of the archaeological, architectural and landscape history of the British Isles.

Through our annual publication of the Archaeological Journal and our programme of monthly lectures, we have a strong tradition of presenting archaeological research. We also give grants to enable research projects, host conferences and run specialist tours for our members to archaeological sites, historic buildings and landscapes.

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8 MAY LECTURE by Blaise Vyner
Wednesday 8th May 2019

'Wade’s Causeway: A road to nowhere?'

The linear feature which crosses Wheeldale Moor, North Yorkshire, has long been promoted as an exemplar of a Roman road surviving untrammelled by turnpike or tarmac. As such, it has been in Guardianship for over a century. Considered since it was discovered in the 18th century to be part of a Roman road which extended from the fort at Malton to somewhere in the vicinity of Whitby by way of Cawthorn Camps and Lease Rigg Roman fort, there has been little critical review of the evidence. Fenton’s slightly exasperated comment, applied to another linear feature, far distant, holds equally good here: ‘ascribed like all old roads and dykes to the Romans or the Flemings, let them take what direction they may…’ (Fenton 1811, 131). There are questions still to be asked about Wade’s Causeway: ‘What is its route’ and ‘Is it Roman?’ might be a good start, ‘Is it a road?’ may be even more to the point.

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