Online Encyclopedia

WATLING STREET

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 412 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WATLING STREET, the Early English name for the great road made by the Romans from London past St Albans (Roman Verulamium) to Wroxeter (Roman Viroconium) near Shrewsbury and used by the Anglo-Saxons, just as a great part of it is used to-day. According to early documents the name was at first Waeclinga (or Wartlinga) strict; its derivation is unknown, but an English personal name may lie behind it. After the Conquest the road was included in the list of four Royal Roads which the Norman lawyers recorded or invented (see ERMINE STREET). Later still, in the Elizabethan period and after it, the name Watling Street seems to have been applied by antiquaries to many Roman or reputed Roman roads in various parts of Britain, and English map-makers and inferior writers on Roman roads still perpetuate the fictions. In particular, the Roman " North Road " which ran from York through Corbridge and over Cheviot to Newstead near Melrose, and thence to the Wall of Pius, and which has largely been in use ever since Roman times, is now not unfrequently called Watling Street, though there is no old authority for it and throughout the middle ages the section of the road between the Tyne and the Forth was called Dere Street. (F. J. H.)
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