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The Secret History of the Roman Roads of Britain (ePub)

Ancient History > Rome & the Roman Provinces Military P&S History > British History

By M C Bishop
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 20.2 MB (.epub)
Pages: 210
Illustrations: 24 black and white maps & plans
ISBN: 9781473837478
Published: 28th February 2014


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There have been many books on Britain's Roman roads, but none have considered in any depth their long-term strategic impact. Mike Bishop shows how the road network was vital not only in the Roman strategy of conquest and occupation, but influenced the course of British military history during subsequent ages. The author starts with the pre-Roman origins of the network (many Roman roads being built over prehistoric routes) before describing how the Roman army built, developed, maintained and used it. Then, uniquely, he moves on to the post-Roman history of the roads. He shows how they were crucial to medieval military history (try to find a medieval battle that is not near one) and the governance of the realm, fixing the itinerary of the royal progresses. Their legacy is still clear in the building of 18th century military roads and even in the development of the modern road network. Why have some parts of the network remained in use throughout? The text is supported with clear maps and photographs. Most books on Roman roads are concerned with cataloguing or tracing them, or just dealing with aspects like surveying. This one makes them part of military landscape archaeology.

The Secret History of the Roman Roads of Britain by M.C. Bishop – And their Impact on Military History – is a short but such a good book on the infrastructure during the first centuries of the current era and also on their impact on the conflicts that took place afterwards. For me this was a 5 stars book without any doubt.

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Coffee and Books

I feel this provides a refreshing new look into the meaning, context, and lasting effects of one of the most easily seen but oft overlooked artefacts of Roman Britain.

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Clash of Steel

As featured in

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Extremely well-researched and illustrated.

Keith Rimmer, NZ Crown Mines

The book is richly illustrated throughout with black and white photos, pen and ink maps and line drawings. The maps and line drawings are especially informative and sync well with the text.
The book is a valuable resource for anyone with a serious interest in British history from Roman times through the Middle Ages and beyond.

Ancient Warfare

Bishop provides interesting insights into the peculiar world of Roman road studies in Britain. He demonstrates that our knowledge about the number, location, form and use of Roman roads in Britain is fare more fragmentary than we might like to believe.
A useful volume which pulls together many disparate threads and which provides the basis for a new phase of study.

Antiquity Journal

This lively and though-provoking read instills a new appreciation of the wheels of history.

Current Archaeology

Having always been interested in how the Romans were able to maintain support for Legions throughout their empire this book helps considerably in better understanding the Roman logistic system in Britain, conditioned of course by the road system. The Romans as ever were very good adaptors of existing opportunities so the progression from pre-Roman roads/tracks is the starting point and thereafter we see the business of surveying and construction delivering a network of roads. This is a really interesting read especially as the evidence of the routes of some of these Roman roads are still part of the landscape.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy
 M C Bishop

About M C Bishop

Dr Mike Bishop is one of the leading names in Roman Military archaeology. An archaeologist and archaeological illustrator by training, he is the founder of the Journal of Roman Military Equipment Studies and of ROMEC (the Roman Military Equipment Conference). He is also a Visiting Lecturer in the School of Classics at St Andrews University, Scotland. His best known work is the highly regarded Roman Military Equipment (Oxford, 1993, revised 2005), which he co-authored with J C N Coulston. His previous work for Pen & Sword, Handbook of Roman Legionary Fortresses was published in 2012. He lives in Wiltshire.

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