Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A Beginner’s Guide to the Danes’ Pad (Part Three)

At the end of last week we left you, somewhat pessimistically perhaps, contemplating the improbability of the ‘ridge’ at Mythop being the Dane’s Pad.
According to William Thornber’s transaction, from this point onwards the road passes over the next hill from Weeton, crosses a valley and then runs through a dyke (be warned, I’m not in the mood for stupid remarks appertaining to this particular sentence in the comments boxes) near Benson’s Farm in Staining. Apparently horseshoes and piece of iron were, in Thornber’s day, extracted annually from the ground in this area…although exactly what that proves, seeing as none of them seem to exist any more, is again open to question.
Convinced about the existence of the agger, however, Thornber writes (or rather wrote): “I have measured it and found its breadth at the crown about twelve yards and its base twenty.”
Twenty yards? That’s sixty feet, isn’t it? That’s a sizeable agger even by Roman standards. Sounds like an ancient version of an American freeway to me.
Thornber adds that: “There are no signs of ruts and I doubt whether any wheel carriage was used thereon, whilst I can prove that sledges were.”
(Should be interesting.)
As evidence he next cites a broken sledge dug out of the agger, which in his day could be found leaning against the farm gates. (The sledge, that is, not the agger…that’d be impossible I’d imagine.) The sledge was made of ‘rude oak’, weather-beaten and joined together by cross pieces at the top and bottom where they were mortised. An illustration would have been good, but, true to form, Thornber failed to supply us with one.
“Here also…” the pugilistic parson goes on (and on, and on, not unlike this article), “…was found another amulet. It is small, oblong and a foreign white, soft marble.”
If there are any Roman experts reading this (and, to be honest, I’m not holding out a great deal of hope out here, but it’s got to be worth a try) and if Thornber’s description of the ‘amulet’ sounds vaguely familiar to you, please let us know, because it’s got us totally stumped.
Next up, Thatchplat Bridge (nowadays known as Chain Bridge, although, it should be noted, not by me personally because I haven’t got a clue where it is…no doubt I’ve crossed it numerous times in the past, but I didn’t pay it enough attention at the time to wonder if it was Chain Bridge, Thatchplat Bridge or London Bridge), which (because no doubt you’re as lost as we are now) is shown on the map below.

Chain Bridge was the site of a discovery in 1996 of two Roman coins.
The trouble is…well…look at it. It’s miles away from where the Danes’ Pad ought to be. Again, this is hardly ‘proof beyond doubt’ that our Roman road actually existed…although continuing northwards beyond this point, the final stretch as recorded on the Ordnance Survey map, towards Puddle House Farm near Poulton, does have the following aerial photograph (borrowed from the Lancashire Historic Highways website, which used to be run by our old friend and Roman road expert David Ratledge, so it carries some weight) to testify to its existence:

And that, as far as the Ordnance Survey’s concerned, is that.
It’s worth adding at this point that not so long ago we came across a selection of high status Roman military artefacts dug up from a field somewhere in Poulton. A number of them were equestrian-related, and where there are horses (especially saddled-up Roman military ones) there’s usually a road involved.
We’re not supposed to talk about these finds, unfortunately.
We’re not supposed to talk about a lot of our local history, for various reasons, to be honest. I’m dead against censorship, myself. Without such information local historians can’t possibly reach proper conclusions, and, in this particular instance, the location of the field might well prove the existence of the Danes’ Pad once and for all. Then again it might not, but without the information we’ll never know.
Anyhow, I’ll keep my gob shut as requested and carry on.
Beyond Poulton the route becomes even more speculative, some suggesting that (as we said a couple of weeks ago) it ran towards Fleetwood, others insisting that it ran towards Preesall.
Here’s another map (I’m seriously going to get into trouble with the Ordnance Survey at this rate…apologies in advance if I’m carted off to prison before completing this article) showing the salient points along both routes.

Because there’s still a lot of ground to cover here, it might be best if we take another break. We’ll return (if you haven’t given up the will to live, that is) in another seven days’ time for the final (yes…it really will be the ‘final’ this time) instalment.


Jayne said...

Any forts/watch towers near the bends for Romans to keep an eye out?
The field boundaries look almost like the remains of the road leading to Puddle House Farm (where did that name originate from?)

Brian Hughes said...


"Any forts/watch towers near the bends..."

None that have ever been found.

"...where did that name originate from?"

I've absolutely no idea. I suppose it's possible the Dr Foster once lived there?

crown51 said...

brian excuse me for being naive , but why are you not supposed to talk about a roman find in wyre , that happened `not so long ago` where and why does this sensorsip come from , by whom ? sorry if thats a stupid question , but i find that astonishing !! regards andy

Brian Hughes said...


It's complicated...and I'm not allowed to talk about it.

If it was just me involved I'd say 'bugger it' and talk about it anyway. Unfortunately there's a bit more to it than that...threats of sackings and I have to keep schtum.

The truth will out one day, I've no doubt. Until then you'll just have to take my word for it that somewhere in a field in Poulton somebody found a number of high status Roman military artefacts suggestive of a Roman road being in the same vicinity. Even I don't know where the field was though...

The Actor said...

If a lot of the finds can't be spoken about then what's the point ?

Brian Hughes said...


My sentiments exactly...