The Jurassic Way

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LARA ERA Prehistoric
LARA Record Number 5.1

Description

The earliest known archaeological feature within the city seems to be the so called 'Jurassic Way', a Prehistoric track which is thought to have extended from the Humber southwards for an unknown distance along the crest of the Jurassic scarp (Grimes 1951). Further south, the very existence of the Jurassic Way in Lincolnshire has been doubted (Taylor 1979, 32-6) but it has also been argued that a routeway along the cliff edge is very likely to have been a very ancient feature of the landscape, even if it was not part of a long-distance route. The date of this feature is unknown, and probably unknowable - presumably this dry route with its wide views along the level plateau was always an attractive route to north-south traffic and could easily extend back into the Mesolithic. Where the track entered the Lincoln gap, a route down into the valley had to be selected, leading to a crossing point over the main channel of the Witham. Although our understanding of the pre-Roman Witham valley is imperfect, nevertheless we can now be sure that the peninsula of 'high' ground (above the 5m contour) on which Wigford now stands did not exist prior to the Roman period (RAZ 6.2). Consequently, much the shortest route across the wetlands, below the 5m contour, was located well to the east, in the general vicinity of what is now Stamp End (RAZ 5.2), and so the Jurassic Way presumably aimed for that point. The archaeology of the track itself will not be easily recognised, not will it be easy to understand. The chances of collecting dating evidence for its earliest surfaces anywhere except at the river crossing are very small. Even so, any evidence for track construction or repair will be a major step forward, indicating some level of responsible local authority as well as the presence of long-distance travel.

LARA Boundaries

The boundaries of the RAZ have been drawn making the assumption that the track will have held to the line of the ridge crests for as long as possible before taking a direct route diagonally across the slope towards the terminals of the crossing point. A width of 100m has been selected as appropriate to cover the variety of different lines which the track might have taken over time, but this is arbitrary and we can be certain that it did not deviate far from the cliff edge in its northern and southern sectors. At the cliff tops north and south of the gap itself, the RAZ boundaries have been placed wider apart to accommodate possible short-cuts and more direct routes from the valley floor to the cliff-edge paths.