The myth of straight Roman roads has been exposed by a new book which claims the extraordinary engineering feats were the work of the Celts.
Part of the Fosse Way in Gloucestershire, which a new book claims was built by the Celts, not the Romans Photo: ALAMY
The findings of Graham Robb, a biographer and historian, bring into question two millennia of thinking about Iron Age Britain and Europe and the stereotyped image of Celts as barbarous, superstitious tribes.
In reality the Druids, the Celt’s scientific and spiritual leaders, were some of the most intellectually advanced thinkers of their age, it is said, who developed the straight roads in the 4th Century BC, hundreds of years before the Italian army marched across the continent.
“They had their own road system on which the Romans later based theirs,” Mr Robb said, adding that the roads were built in Britain from around the 1st Century BC.
“It has often been wondered how the Romans managed to build the Fosse Way, which goes from Exeter to Lincoln. They must have known what the finishing point would be, but they didn’t conquer that part of Britain until decades later. How did they manage to do that if they didn’t follow the Celtic road?”
Mr Robb, former fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, first came up with the theory when he planned to cycle the Via Heraklea, an ancient route that runs a thousand miles in a straight line from the tip of the Iberian Peninsula to the Alps, and realised that it was plotted along the solstice lines through several Celtic settlements.
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