Roman Winteringham

Winteringham Local History and Genealogy

The Romans at Winteringham, and ‘Ad Abum’

Chalybeate Spring, WinteringhamIn building their great road north from London (Londinium) to York (Eboracum), and then on to Hadrian’s wall, the Romans were faced with the physical barrier of the Humber.  Another possibility for them would have been to build the road much further to the west.  It is thought that the river was much wider, and consequently more sluggish than at present, and so presented few problems to the innovative Romans (And of course until recent times, it was usually easier to travel on water rather than land).  They built their great Ermine Street due north from Lincoln, straight to Winteringham (Ad Abum).

Quite how they crossed the River to Brough (Petuaria) is not settled.  Some believe that it was by ferry, De la Pryme recorded "April 1st, 1696. The old Roman way has come straight from Lincoln thither. There are great foundations dug and ploughed up hard by this way near the Humber, which I take to have been some old beach made by the Romans to bring and secure their shipps in, because that it encompasses a great piece of land and is warp up. I also saw an old coin or two of the Roman Empire that had been found there."  whilst Dr Stukeley who visited Winteringham in 1724 was told how ‘commodiously’ the river could be crossed if taken with the tide.  In the nineteenth century several people reported that they had seen a Roman jetty in the river when it was excessively low.

Another theory is that the Romans forded the River.  Several people have tested this theory by walking across.  This theory was certainly tested in 1953, by Lord Noel Buxton, who walked across between Winteringham and * Whitton, and although a boat was used on the Yorkshire side for a very short distance, the result to the intrepid walker for the rest of the crossing was wet legs below the knees, and no higher!  I recall that he was wearing light brown trousers which he had rolled up to his knees.  The walk must have been well advertised beforehand as it was witnessed by many people from Winteringham and Whitton, between which two villages he landed.

The site of the Roman settlement was between ‘Tranymere Corner’ and ‘Flashmire’, and though it had long been forgotten, it came to light once more shortly before the visit of Dr Stukeley who wrote:“At the period to which this refers, the old town may be said to have been literally ploughed up; for many Roman antiquities were here found, amongst which are particularly mentioned pavements and chimney stones, some so large and near the surface as to injure their ploughshares.”

At the same time, streets of sea sand and gravel, and a road to Whitton and Alkborough were found.

Since Dr Stukeley’s time the site of the Roman settlement has become further evidenced by findings of pots, parts of houses, skeletons of soldiers, a hoard of coins (as well as many smaller finds of individual coins) and three wells to the north of Tranymere Corner.  A few years ago, there was a major archaeological dig on the site.

In Trollope 1868, Trollope wrote a paper on the Ermine Street.  As it approached Winteringham he could find little evidence of it, stating:

"The Ermine Street can no longer be traced in Winteringham, its bank having been destroyed through the enclosure of that parish and subsequent cultivation; but there is no doubt as to its line, and the spot where it reached the Humber; for, continuing its former straight course northwards, it would at length reach the summit of a small promontory on that great river, half a mile northeast of the village of Winteringham, which formerly protected a little haven called Flashmire, now silted up.  This terminal was marked by a Station, probably that of Ad Album, which Stukeley states was ploughed up a few years before he wrote his Itinerarium Curiosum.  In his account of this spot, he speaks of the existence of a fine spring here - always a desirable adjunct to a Station - of vast stones, pavements, and foundations, which often broke ploughers' shares, and of remains of streets or roads made of gravel or sea sand.”

"Stukeley, speaking of Winteringham, says, 'This place is over against Brough, The Roman town on the Yorkshire shore, but it is rather more eastward, so that, with the tide coming in, they ferried over very commodiously thither;' and, in confirmation of this opinion, a discovery was made here, and at Brough, during the remarkably dry summer of 1826, when the Humber was very low, viz., the remains of a raised causeway, or jetty, stretching out from both places, similar to the vadum descent in the Trent at Littleborough, and apparently of Roman construction."

The Romans without doubt used the fresh water from the Chalybeate Spring (pictured), which was comparatively rare so near an arm of the sea, and which helped their settlement to grow and prosper.  However, three Roman wells were found, and archaeologically excavated last century on the northern side of Tranymere Corner - close to where the most recent and most exhaustive excavation was made.

Roman Coin 1Roman Coin 3Roman Coin 2Roman Coin 4

Roman coins found in Winteringham

On the OS ‘First Edition’ - the very first Ordnance Survey maps of Britain, the extension of Ermine Street from Cockthorne Corner, across the fields between Winterton Road and the Grange Farm is suggested by a line clearly marked ‘Old Street Hedge’, and ‘Flashmire’ is marked just (I estimate) 300 yards to the east of Winteringham Haven, the hedge having continued across the extension of Silver Street and towards the River Humber.


You may also like to read:The History & Antiquities of the Scunthorpe & Frodingham District, by Harold Dudley, produced by Frederick Gough School

* There is an eye-witness account of Lord Noel Buxton’s walk on ‘Whitton on the Web’



Have you tried the other Winteringham Websites?
Winteringham News, Don Burton World of Nature Photo Archive (modern photographs of the village), What the Papers have said about Winteringham (since July 2004), High Resolution Historical Photographs, Winteringham Film Archive, Winteringham Nature Site, Winteringham Recipes, Winteringham Camera Club, Winteringham Village Hall, Winteringham Chapel


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