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'Dere Street': Border - Newstead - Elginhaugh

Roman Road (Roman)

Site Name 'Dere Street': Border - Newstead - Elginhaugh

Classification Roman Road (Roman)

Canmore ID 71739

Site Number NT53SE 101

NGR NT 5929 3000

NGR Description NT 5929 3000 to NT 5690 3499

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish St Boswells
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Ettrick And Lauderdale
  • Former County Roxburghshire

Archaeology Notes

NT53SE 101 from 5929 3000 to 5690 3499. RR 2.

Formerly RR 8f and RR 8g.

There is no reason to think that Dere Street did not continue on its previous bearing (see NT52NE 22, NT62NW 46), which would have carried it across the West Burn just W of the head of its deep and precipitous ravine. The record preserved by Chalmers suggests that from this point Dere Street passed near Whitehill and descended much on the line of the modern road from Maxpoffle to a crossing of the Bowden Burn close to the existing low-level bridge. The construction of the railway and its sidings, as well as of the modern road, has obliterated all trace of Dere Street through Newtown St Boswells. But on the N bank of the Sprouston Burn some 30 yds W of the modern road, which is carried on a high embankment, there are remains of a road-mound which, though much dilapidated, shows massive stone-bottoming with cambered metalling above it where the bank has broken away. It is difficult to interpret these remains except as the Roman road leading off the abutment of a bridge long washed away. From this point to the camps and fort at Newstead (NT53SE 20) the line appears to have run across the foot of the Eildon slopes, E and N of Eildon village, as remains of road-metalling are reported to have been turned up in these fields by the plough. The medieval route, however, diverged NW towards Melrose, as is shown by the deeply worn hollow tracks that can be seen in the upper end of the Bogleburn Strip.

The Roman fort lies on a high plateau overlooking the Tweed. No crossing of the river would have been possible in its close vicinity on account of the cliffs, and the topography of the S bank clearly demands that Dere Street should have crossed the river somewhere near the existing ford at the Eddy Pool. It must have been close to this ford that the remains of a stone bridge across the river were still a source of good stone in 1743. Milne states that "at this place" (Newstead) "like-wise, there has been a famous Bridge over Tweed; the Entrance to it, on the South side, is very evident, and a great deal of find Stones are dug out of the Arches of the Bridge when the Water is low." This implies that the S abutment and some piers could still be seen in the bed of the river, as, for example, at Corbridge, Northumberland, today. Various references by J A Smith to Roman roads in or near the fort now fall into place. About 1820, "the tenant of the field adjoining the Red Abbeystead on the west, in addition to these foundations of buildings, came upon a portion of a regularly paved roadway, running nearly north and south across the field. It was about 20 feet broad..." This must refer to the field now called the Well Meadow, wholly within the Roman fort, and the "roadway" will therefore have been one of the streets of the fort. But "the paved roadway...about 20 feet broad", found in the construction of the Edinburgh and Carlisle railway to the S of the Well Meadow, lies outside the fort and presumably represents the westernmost road through the S annexe, that is, a branch linking the fort with Dere Street at some point to the S. Similarly, the road from the Well Meadow that "descended the right bank of the river, within the memory of the fathers of the old men of the present generation, towards the foundations of a very ancient stone bridge "is best explicable as a westward branch from the fort to the bridgehead, independent of the main route through the fields N of Eildon. Neither Smith nor Jeffrey can well have been right in interpreting these remains as Dere Street itself. There is no trace of the road N of the fort at Newstead, but the topography would suggest that it crossed the River Tweed near the Eddy Pool and followed the hanging valley behind Kittyfield.

Visited by RCAHMS 1944-5.

A Milne 1743; J A Smith 1857; A Jeffrey 1864; G Chalmers 1837-1902; RCAHMS 1956.

No trace.

Visited by OS (BS) April 1975.

NT 573 336 Viewed from Eildon Hill North, light snow cover in late December 1995 revealed a broad linear mound and uphill hollow some 10m in overall width running NE-SW for 250m on the S slope of the Red Rig above the Bogle Burn. The feature crosses a single field diagonally and could not be traced in adjacent fields. Despite the abrupt termini the feature is interupted as an early road terrace that may indicate the line of Roman Dere Street from the Bogle Burn to the River Tweed.

W Lonie 1996

NT 5711 3379 to NT 5718 3340 Traces of features in the vicinity of Trimontium Roman fort are interpreted as the remains of a Roman road. Fuller report lodged with the NMRS.

W Lonie 1997

NT 5717 3352 - NT 5707 3337 A road terrace length reported in Lonie 1996, a linear mark on an air photograph, a woodland edge and a fording point combine to trace an early hollow track, probably between farms.

A more detailed assessment has been lodged with the NMRS.

W Lonie 1998

NT 5710 3372 Ploughing and heavy rain in late December 1997 exposed a limited area of pebbles of up to fist size (see also Lonie 1997). The exposure spread was some 6 x 3m lengthways along the edge of the field bordering the woodland fence. The new exposure is on the Roman road line defined in the previous report. There were no similar exposures along the woodland edge off-line.

Both exposures contain a high proportion of water-worn pebbles, as opposed to the local glacial brash. Such pebbles were used in quantity in road-making in the immediate area of Trimontium fort.

W Lonie 1998


Sbc Note

Visibility: This is an upstanding earthwork or monument.

Information from Scottish Borders Council


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