Danes' Pad - Introduction

The Ordnance Survey's map of Roman Britain uses double unbroken lines to denote accepted courses of roads, whereas double dotted lines indicate uncertain routes. Among the latter in the North West are roads linking well-established forts or settlements at Lancaster, Walton-le-Dale, Ribchester, Wigan and Manchester.

In such a context, it may seem a little surprising that a road is shown on the map in unbroken lines running west through the Fylde from the fort at Kirkham, then curving north-westerly before ending without reaching, or appearing to be heading towards, an obvious destination. This becomes more remarkable when it is learnt that the very existence of this road, generally known as the Danes' Pad, has been the subject of debate amongst local historians for more than 60 years.

It is well over a century since W. Thompson Watkin, in his book, Roman Lancashire, recounted the evidence for the Danes' Pad given by antiquarians during the previous hundred years. As the subject continues to give rise to interest, opinions and conjecture, a modern detailed treatment is overdue.

This book will hopefully arm those interested in the subject with the information necessary for them to investigate it further without having to search through obscure volumes. Wherever possible the early sources have been quoted at length, in order to maintain their context and avoid misunderstandings. Although this may have led to some pedantry, it has been thought necessary as understanding of the subject depends very much on the interpretation of what was actually said to have been observed.

Ted Lightbown,

August 1996.


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