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Now, some 2,000 years after it was built, it has been uncovered in the depths of a forest in Dorset...
‘It is absolutely huge and unlike anything I have ever seen. Here you have a large road with huge ditches either side. It is raised very high which is unusual. It is only speculation, but the height might have been to make a statement.
‘It is thought this was a road made early in the occupation and not used for long. If so, then it would have been incredibly impressive to the local people.
The 1,900-year-old highway was constructed to run from London to Exeter and experts believe it was intended to show the might of the Roman Empire.
The road, which is 85ft wide and stands on 15ft earthworks, has deep ditches on either side.
Forestry Commission staff had been aware that it existed but because it was so densely covered by trees, they were unable to find it.
I wonder if this was done to keep that area dry, out of the water?
The section uncovered was built from gravel and is amazingly well-preserved thanks to never having been under the plough and later covered with a dense pine wood
Between deep ditches: Experts believe the road's scale was to deliberately intimidate the locals - the site of a Roman legion marching along the road would have had the desired effect
In partnership with English Heritage, the Forestry Commission has undertaken an impressive restoration project to reveal a hidden archaeological treasure, literally under our very feet.
By clear felling a plantation of Norway Spruce fir trees in Puddletown Forest (near Dorchester), the Forestry Commission has painstakingly uncovered one of the UK’s most remarkable sections of ancient Roman road.
The 26 metre-wide road is a combination of a central cobbled ‘street’, which would have been used for rapid troop movements, and outer ‘droving’ roads for livestock. It is thought the road is part of the Ackling Dyke Roman Road, built in the early first century to link Old Sarum (Salisbury) with the Roman fort at Exeter.
Pete Wilson, Head of Research Policy (Roman Archaeology) for English Heritage explained:
“Roman roads were built in support of the military and civilian administration of a newly conquered province. The well-preserved length surviving in Puddletown Forest pays eloquent testimony to the power and determination of the Romans to consolidate their new territory. The scale and solidity of their work have allowed the road to survive the 1600 years since the end of Roman Britain.”