Medieval Britain, medieval roads

Editors: Valerie Allen and Ruth Evans

This collection of essays on roads in Britain in the Middle Ages addresses the topic from a cultural, anthropological and literary point of view, as well as a historical and archaeological one. Taking up Jacques Derrida's proposal that 'the history of writing and the history of the road' be 'meditated upon' together, it considers how roads ‘write’ landscapes. The anthology sets Britain’s thoroughfares against the backdrop of the extant Roman road system and argues for a technique of road construction and care that is distinctively medieval. As well as synthesizing information on medieval road terminology, roads as rights of passage and the road as an idea as much as a physical entity, individual essays look afresh at sources for the study of the medieval English road system, legal definitions of the highway, road-breaking and road-mending, wayfinding, the architecture of the street and its role in popular urban government, English hermits and the road as spiritual metaphor, royal itineraries, pilgrimage roads, roads in medieval English romances, English river transport, roads in medieval Wales, and roads in the Anglo-Scottish border zone.

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‘'Roadworks' represents a major contribution to our understanding of roads in the medieval period. Its thirteen chapters cover a wide range of sources and methodologies, and – considering that much of the major literature on the subject is very old – its revisionist position is very welcome.'
Owen Davies, University of Hertfordshire
June 2017

‘The editors are to be congratulated on the strength of the essays and the way they complement each other despite the diversity of approaches taken by their authors. The reader also benefits from the clarity and uniformity of presentation, and the generally very high standard of copy editing. More illustrations would have been welcome for a subject that cries out for maps, but this is a small gripe about a book that offers so much to all of those interested in a topic that unites different disciplines.'
Stephen Mileson, Victoria County History, Oxfordshire
The Journal of transport history vol 37 (2)

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