A1 Dishforth to Leeming Bar: Project Overview

North Yorkshire


Carillion/Morgan Sindall Joint Venture (CMS JV) on behalf of The Highways Agency (now Highways England)







In 2009–10, the A1 between Dishforth and Leeming Bar in North Yorkshire was upgraded by the Highways Agency to motorway grade. NAA worked closely with the CMS JV, project consultants AECOM, and English Heritage (now Historic England) to record the archaeology in the line of this £318 million national infrastructure scheme.

NAA carried out excavations ahead of construction works and monitoring of works in progress along the 22.5km-long scheme, recording extensive new evidence of Iron Age, Roman and medieval period occupation. The most significant excavations were at Healam Bridge Roman roadside settlement, which is a Scheduled Monument. The Healam Bridge settlement lay mid-way between the Roman towns of Cataractonium (Catterick) and Isurium Brigantum (Aldborough) and spanned Dere Street at its crossing of Healam Beck. The excavation covered perhaps 15% of the known settlement – which extends over at least 18ha – along nearly 1km of the Roman road.

The Healam Bridge settlement was found to be a Hadrianic foundation and contained buildings of timber and stone that indicated continuous occupation into the late 4th or 5th century AD. Large amounts of the skeletal remains of mules and horses were uncovered, suggesting that these animals may have been kept and bred in significant numbers at Healam Bridge. Mules and horses were palpably an important part of the settlement’s economy, and it is conceivable that it was established specifically to supply animals to the army or other branches of the government. The remains of 37 human burials were found, most of which dated to the Roman period, although a small group were interred here as late as the 7th century AD.

The motorway upgrade was successfully completed ahead of schedule during summer 2013. The archaeological results were published in 2017 as A Roman Roadside Settlement at Healam Bridge: The Iron Age to Early Medieval Evidence, which is accessible via the Archaeology Data Service (https://doi.org/10.5284/1041575).

Following the efficient delivery of archaeological works on the Dishforth to Leeming Bar scheme, NAA was selected as the preferred archaeological contractor for the subsequent widening of the A1 between Leeming Bar and Barton in 2013–17.

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