Pre-industrial Roads, Trackways and Canals

Introductions to Heritage Assets

An introduction to pre-industrial roads, trackways and canals.

The term ‘trackway’ refers to a linear route which has been marked on the ground surface over time by the passage of traffic. A ‘road’, on the other hand, is a route which has been deliberately engineered.

The earliest artificial watercourses in England were built by the Romans the most notable example being the Car Dyke, which runs along the western margins of the fens between Lincoln and Peterborough. Where roads and trackways went out of use, or have a different alignment to their modern course, earthworks, cropmarks or eroded surface material have been located by field survey and aerial survey.

Roads and trackways exist as articulating features in the landscape and are associated with a wide range of contemporary monuments. Descriptions of the asset type as well as its development and associations along with a brief chronology are included.


  • Summary
  • Introduction
  • Description
  • Chronology
  • Development of the asset type
  • Associations
  • Further reading
  • Where to get advice

Additional Information

  • Series: Guidance
  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Pages: 17
  • Product Code: HEAG224


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