In 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 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’