This project, led by Dr Stephen Gadd and Colin Greenstreet, aims to record the condition and development of highways (both roads and navigable waterways) in England and Wales between 1530 and 1680, the period during which began the network’s transformation from one serving primarily local agricultural markets to one fit for an emerging industrial economy. Rather than identifying wholly new infrastructure, we hope to discover when and where network stresses occurred and were remedied, and when particular highway sections became identified as ‘principal routes’. Such analysis will help to identify the geographic scope and scale of industrial development and decline.
Adapting collaborative methods deployed by Colin with great success on the Marine Lives project, Viæ Regiæ will assimilate a vast array of evidence from primary sources such as Quarter Sessions, parish, and probate records. This will be gathered by local experts and enthusiasts around the country, building bridges between academic and public historians. For the first time we will see in detail from a national perspective how the network of roads, bridges, and waterways serving ports and market towns developed, from the economic disruption of monastic Dissolution recorded in John Leland’s Itinerary, and traced through the trail-blazing mapping of Christopher Saxton’s county series to the first national road maps a century later.