Pay attention at the back. Hands up, who truthfully knew about Akeman Street? Just to check porkies, who remembers it being built and the temporary traffic lights?
On leaving Buckinghamshire and entering Oxfordshire, heading North West, you are treading, or more likely driving, where chariots have been before you…okay, a little artistic licence! The A41, aka Akeman Street, was a Roman Road. Part of Caesar’s web of roads throughout England, the precursor to our efficient motorway network. Hence why it is such a lovely straight road. Passing through the village of Kingswood and the Akeman Inn and the Canaletto Italian Restaurant . Then there’s the low bridge to negotiate, that the chariots would have cleared with ease. I’m sure the Roman’s would have been proud of the Graven Hill development, just outside Bicester. Probably taking in the Grand Designs programmes that followed some of its progress.
They would have loved to have taken in Bicester Village (比斯特郡乡村英语). Did you know that the ‘village’ is second to Buckingham Place as places the Chinese visit in England! The Romans could have picked up a few cheap designer togas and sandals. Unlike the shopping centre the original Bicester does have history. Founded in 643 and mentioned in the 1086 Doomsday Book. Another interesting fact (?), its population swelled to approximately 600 people in 1547? From where…Lancashire!? It is Alchester, one of Bicester’s ancient suburbs though, that is a Roman town. A strategic crossroads and a legionary fortress, with a sizeable equivalent to today’s outdoor Jacuzzi’s, a Roman bath discovered in 1766. Any thoughts as to exactly where Alchester was?
Back on the road, Akeman Street loses its identity at the Tesco’s junction and is buried well beneath the quaint housing and commercial developments to the north of Bicester. Resurfacing in the Chesterton area as the road that connects Kirtlington with the outskirts of Bicester.
Its journey then meanders (sorry, the Romans did not do meandering!) out into the countryside towards Cirencester…Another historical snippet, ‘ester’ at the end of a town’s name tends to mean that it’s Roman in its origins; Colchester, Chester, Winchester, Alchester, etc.
Have you ever found anything of Roman descent in your garden? We found a ring and booked the world cruise. Only to discover that it is a promotional ring from ‘Lord of the Rings’ and that the inscription that gave it authenticity was ‘Elvish’ from the land of make believe. Please share with us the relics you have discovered and whether they warranted a visit to Fiona and her Antiques Roadshow team…