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Thread: "Ancient Thoroughfares" on OS Maps?

  1. #1
    Mini Goon
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    Question "Ancient Thoroughfares" on OS Maps?

    I'm sure I've seen "Ancient Thoroughfare" or something along those lines on OS maps, but I can't find any examples.

    Does anyone know the term used? Maybe "Ancient Path" or "Ancient Throughfare"? Is anyone aware of any examples they could point me to?

    I'm writing a post-apocalyptic story and like to get my facts right! Thanks for any help.

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  2. #2
    Übermensch
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    I know a bit about OS maps ranging in scale from 1:50,000 to 25-inch to the mile but cannot recall ever having come across this term. I have checked the keys to each of these series but none use the term ’Thoroughfare’.


    On current 1:50,00 and 1:25,000 maps of England and Wales, rights of way are shown only by coloured pecked lines, and other paths by black pecked lines. They are not labelled. Rights of way are not shown on maps of Scotland.


    On 1:2500, 1:10,000 maps and the equivalent imperial scale maps, all paths and tracks are shown and indicated by pecked lines and usually labelled ‘Path’, ‘FP’. ‘Track’ or ‘Trk’. There is no indication as to whether any of these paths are rights of way.


    The OS has also published a series of historical and archeological maps which I’ve been unable to check, but I suspect that their scales alone would prevent the use of such a long word. Nor would it seem appropriate in an historical context.


    However, although not mentioned in the map key, some named ancient routes are recorded on OS maps. Examples are ‘Herepath’ (a Saxon military road) between Marlborough and Avebury, ‘Mastiles Lane’ in North Yorkshire, ‘Sarn Helen’ in Wales. And, of course, some Roman roads are thus labelled. Other named routes include those used by drovers, packmen, and pilgrims. It’s worth noting that the so-called ‘Pilgrims Way’ between Canterbury and Winchester is actually a prehistoric trackway and there is no evidence to suggest that it was ever used by pilgrims. The name is eighteenth century invention.


    Hugh

  3. #3
    Mini Goon
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    Very interesting Hugh, thank you.

  4. #4
    Mini Goon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Westacott View Post


    However, although not mentioned in the map key, some named ancient routes are recorded on OS maps. Examples are ‘Herepath’ (a Saxon military road) between Marlborough and Avebury, ‘Mastiles Lane’ in North Yorkshire, ‘Sarn Helen’ in Wales. And, of course, some Roman roads are thus labelled. Other named routes include those used by drovers, packmen, and pilgrims. It’s worth noting that the so-called ‘Pilgrims Way’ between Canterbury and Winchester is actually a prehistoric trackway and there is no evidence to suggest that it was ever used by pilgrims. The name is eighteenth century invention.


    Hugh
    Thanks very much Hugh. That last paragraph rings the biggest bells. I don't remember seeing anything like this on the key. I might be imagining it, but I'm picturing a small section of a grid square, with either side of this route marked by pink outlines, with that ancient-looking black font on OS maps (used for cairns and some old buildings/structures) marking it as "Ancient Thoroughfare". I think an existing path cut through this ancient thoroughfare.

    I've found "Herepath or Greensbury" marked just outside Avebury, and Mastiles Lane. Neither are marked up with anything like what my memory is telling me. It was years ago I remember seeing it, so I've been looking through trails I would have walked. Maybe it's on a map local to me, and I've been looking in the wrong places.

  5. #5
    Übermensch
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    Alex


    I’m not only a practical navigator but am very interested in the history and practice of Ordnance Survey mapping which is why I’ve spent some time investigating your ‘ancient thoroughfare’ query.


    Before the introduction of computerized and satellite mapping techniques when surveyors used triangulation, theodolites, and measuring chains, every surveying team kept an ’area book’ also known as a ‘field book’ in which he (and it always was a he) made notes about interesting features. He would record place names garnered from local people and, what is more pertinent to your query, the traffic that was carried on tracks and paths. Thus he might record a ‘cart track’, or just a ‘track’.


    The area books were then sent, together with the field survey maps, to head office where the information was edited according to strict rules. One such was that a route visible on the ground could only be a ‘road’, a ‘track’, or a ‘path’. The map was then handed over to a draughtsman who then drew the final map which was minutely inspected for inconsistencies before being approved for printing.


    The standard work on the subject is Oliver, Richard, Ordnance Survey Maps; a concise guide for local historians 3rd ed. 2013. He reproduces the keys of every map series published by the OS together with an alphabetical list of all features and how they are depicted or described including abbreviations and their meaning. There is no mention of ‘Thoroughfare’ ancient or otherwise.


    The meaning of ’thoroughfare’ is that the route depicted is a right of way. Most, and probably all, OS map series have a note in the key indicating that the depiction of any road, track or footpath is no evidence of a public right of way. It was not until after the passing of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, 1949 that rights of way in England and Wales were put on a proper legal footing and they first appeared on small-scale OS mapping in 1960. However, the information was incorporated from the Definitive Maps of Rights of Way compiled by the highway authorities. So, if the routes were mapped incorrectly by the highway authority, the errors were repeated on OS maps.


    With greatest respect, Alex, the foregoing suggests to me that your memory is at fault. Could it be on a map from another publisher such as the Bartholomew series (about which I know nothing)? Or even a map in a footpath guide (it’s the kind of thing that Wainwright might do)?


    Let us know of you get any further.


    Hugh

  6. #6
    Mini Goon
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    There's definitely a chance my memory could be changing something. I've never used anything other than OS maps for walking though, and my head is picturing it on an OS map.

    Thanks again. I'll let you know if I find anything more out.

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