This is the site of a Roman Bridge, where Ermine Street crossed the River Nene allowing people and livestock to travel from the North Gate of the town of Durobrivae to the industrial areas over the river and onwards to Lincoln, York and Hadrian’s Wall. The bridge was built as a wooden structure set on stone piers. It must have been very strong to hold lots of traffic including horses and carts, chariots, legions of soldiers and people transporting their everyday wares.
The stone piers were discovered in the 1920’s when the River Nene was dredged.
An artist’s impression of what the Roman Town of Durobrivae may have looked like from Castor.
Professor Stephen Upex talks about the Roman Crossing Point.
As you walk along the river to the small boardwalk, you’ll notice a row of willow trees. These are managed as pollards, a traditional way of managing trees by cutting them at about 2-3m above the ground. Pollarding stimulates a dense regrowth of multiple stems, which are harvested on a regular basis to maintain a supply of new wood. The cut ‘limbs’ traditionally provided material for basket making, building materials, to create charcoal for cooking or even to feed cattle, called tree hay, in times of drought.
Can you spot the long stemmed willow branches?
The Romans didn’t have cars or aeroplanes, they travelled by foot, boat, cart or horse drawn chariot. It would have been quite uncomfortable travelling by cart as they didn’t have springs or suspension! As well building bridges for people to cross rivers, the Romans also built bridges for water known as aqueducts. Roman aqueducts channelled fresh water to towns to provide drinking water and water for the bath houses.