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Portway itinerary part 1

Saturday, 1 October 2022 at 21:51

Later river crossing on Dr John Dunn. Today's crossing of the Thames at Whitchurch

A conjectured Roman road

Portway itinerary part 1

I develop further here an itinerary to follow my conjectured Roman road of Portway*

This would be the itinerary for the Portway, using roads on our existing road network that approximate as closely as I can get to the old Roman route.

The Portway runs northwards, out of the Thames valley.


The road northwards from Sichester left through the North Gate but there isno strong evidence for its line beyond this. My modern road approximation is:

Mortimer West End

Ufton Nervet


The fording of the River Kennet would have been somewhere on an alignment between Ufton Nervet and the modern A340. For my itinerary Tylemill Bridge offers the nearest crossing.

The A340 is a straight Roman Road. (Interestingly, just to the east of it, north of Theale, there are resonances of a roman road in the hamlet name of North Street, though it is off the alignment. Did the river crossing upset the desired northbound alignment, taking it through present-day Theale and North Street before its realignment further on?)


Pangbourne. (There is a known Roman Road which keeps to the west of the Thames, hugging the west bank, before crossing the river near Shillingford to the Roman town of Dorchester on Thames. However, my conjectured Portway continues northwards on the established alignment, meaning that the Thames would have been forded here.)

Whitchurch Bridge (Toll)


Whilst not dead straight, the Roman road alignment broadly follows the B471 up the Chiltern escarpment. There are resonances of a Roman road in the place-names of Cold Harbour and Broad Street Farm nearby, which may offer a more accurate road alignment than the present-day road.

Woodcote (Here my itinerary meets the present-day A4074).

My reason for believing that this modern A road has a place on my Portway itinerary is two-fold.

Just to the east of Woodcote is Exlade Street, a place name redolent of a Roman road.

Just to the west of Woodcote, the A4074 is actually named as Port Way on the Ordnance Survey maps, in the area where it crosses the famous Icknield Street. Roman coins have been found at these ancient crossroads.

*(Not to be confused with the southern Roman Portway which runs from Silchester to Old Sarum.)

© John Dunn.

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