Follow The Fosse
PUBLISHED: 01:16 21 September 2011 | UPDATED: 20:01 20 February 2013
David Rudge traces the footsteps of the Romans to explore the history and heritage of Warwickshire's oldest thoroughfare.
They say that a ghostly cohort of Roman soldiers marches along Warwickshires Fosse Way. If you see them, you may wonder why they appear to be striding along on their knees. If ghosts are merely recordings of past events, the explanation is simplethe modern day Fosse Way is a few feet higher than it used to be.
The Fosse, which runs for 250 miles from Exeter to Lincoln, slices neatly through Warwickshire, running from south west to north east.
Vivid red signs warn motorists of the number of injuries and deaths on the road but for the careful motorist, the route offers an interesting view of the county.
The road meets the county in the south at Stretton-on-Fosse, one of three street towns along the Warwickshire route. You find yourself on high ground, the edge of the Cotswolds.
Indeed, Stretton looks like a Cotswold village in parts, with its stone cottages mingling with the more familiar red brick. The word fosse is derived from the Latin for ditch, and suggests that the road was originally a Roman defence against the unconquered tribes of the north and west in the first century AD.
The next major settlement on the road north is Tredington, a pretty village on the River Stour, where the countrys second largest pike was once caught weighing an impressive 45 lbs 7 oz. There are also musket ball marks on the parish church of St Gregory, from the Civil War.
Further north, you cross the Stour at Halford, where there are the buried remains of a small castle. The village pub, The Bridge, is well worth a visit too.
The Fosse crosses the road to Banbury near Compton Verney one of the most beautiful stately homes in the county.
After Warwick Castle and Shakespeares Birthplace, probably the most photographed Warwickshire landmark is the Chesterton Windmill, which sits upon a hill, towering over the Fosse Way. Again, this is worth a detour.
The village of Princethorpe, and surrounding communities of Eathorpe and Wappenbury are pretty and quiet places these days, though in Roman times, they appear to have been centres of pottery-making of near industrial proportions. Many shards of Romano-British pottery from the third and fourth century have been discovered here.
The second street town on the route, Stretton on Dunsmore, is an ancient village, with a thriving history society. The village once had ten pubs, being as it stood on the London road crossroads. Today there are only two leftbut thats considerably better than many villages.
As the Fosse goes into north Warwickshire, you reach Brinklow, an Anglo-Saxon village with a 13th Century church and a splendid Norman castle. The road reaches High Cross at its junction with Watling Street, and leaves the county, to move on through hunting country towards Leicester.