In April 2005 plans were announced to build three 95 metre/315 ft high wind turbines on Loscar Farm which is in hilly countryside between Thorpe Salvin, Harthill and Whitwell. Click here to open a copy of the Rotherham Council's April 2005 planning notice.
This triggered a flurry of local objections as the turbines would be perched on high ground (obviously!) and visible for miles around. One of the objections was based on the claim that the site is of archaeological importance because it was the route of an ancient Roman road called Ryknild Street. Support for this contention included the discovery by local historian Paul Rowland of Harthill of 4 inch square dressed limestone cobbles of the type that Roman roadbuilders would pave a major permanent road (see Archaeology in Europe archive April 2005). The cobbles were found on Packman Lane that runs between Harthill and Thorpe Salvin, and goes between Whitwell and Kiveton Park Station. Apparantly, Ryknild Street was a branch of the Fosse Way (which ran from Exeter to nearby Lincoln) and ran from Bourton on the Water in the Cotswolds to Rotherham via Birmingham. A substantial highway that must surely have promoted a lot of settlement along its route.
Incidentally, there's long been a local legend of ghostly Roman Legionaires being sighted marching when war is imminentalong packman lane, only visible from the knees up because their feet are at the level of the old Roman road!
According to the website Romans In Britain, the legions that were based in Britain at various times were:
So, in theory at least, legionaires from some of the above formations may have marched though the J31 area.
A possible local route from Kiveton Park Station, is traced a couple of miles north along the route of the Brampton Straight mile that runs west of Anston/Dinnington to Brampton en le Morthen/Thurcroft, and on and Thurcroft. There is evidence of Roman camps in the Kiveton Park station area and a substantial camp was located in Ulley. Roman coins and pottery have been found throughout the area (including apparantly some 1500 coins in two jars near to Dinnington in the 19th century).
So while the ghostly legionaires may be a local myth, there is plenty of hard evidence of extensive Roman settlement and other activity in the area.
According to the website Romans In Britain there was a Roman road running south from Rotherham straight through the J31 area, but that it's course is uncertain. If Paul Rowland's finds are confirmed, then maybe the route will be less uncertain.
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