Most people know that the Romano-British town of Alcester sprang up at the junction of two Roman roads. The first was what we call the 'Salt Way' (from Droitwich to Stratford and beyond): the second was what became known as Ryknield Street (from Bourton on Water to South Yorkshire).
Ryknield Street is still observable in the green way running from Oversley Mill to Wixford and was the main highway from Bidford to Alcester until the 19th century. Exactly where Ryknield Street came through Alcester is open to some debate but it has long been acknow-ledged that the Birmingham Road from King's Coughton to Studley is its line out of the town. In 1973, while research into King's Coughton was being pursued, it became obvious that the present line of the road at King's Coughton is not that of Ryknield Street: rather, it runs between that line and the River Arrow, for behind the cottages on the east side of the road are the remains of a slight bank, which can be explained only as the agger* of the original road: this would join the line of the A435 further north towards Coughton. The traditional straightness of Roman roads is observable between Coughton and Studley.
Although two Roman roads cross at Alcester, there may have been more, so far undiscovered. A glance at the map will suggest the possibility of a connection between Alcester and Manduessedum (Mancetter) on Watling Street or one between Alcester and Venoni'~ (High Cross), also on Watling Street. On the latter line would stand The Lunt fort at Bagginton.
These thoughts are wishful thinking but perhaps one day someone will investigate seriously the area north-east of Alcester and chart any clues which suggest a Roman road. This could never be easy, for clues are hard to interpret, e.g. what may look like a Roman agger may be mediaeval ridge and furrow. Much work has been done on Roman Britain but there is surely much more yet to do and some of it possible by mere amateurs.
*agger : raised section of Roman road's foundations
Summer 1995 Index