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Photo Quiz 6 The Portway (1).jpg

This article supplies the answer to Question No. 6 in the website's

Local History Photo Quiz.

Click here to see all the questions.

Where does this go?

  • Silchester?

  • London?

  • St Albans?

  • Winchester?

  • Staines?

Silchester is the correct answer, but by extension London via Staines can be argued as destinations too.

This is the Portway that goes from Sarum (Sorbiodunun) to Silchester (Calleva Atrebatum). From there the Devil’s Highway continues on via Staines (Pontes) to London (Londinium). The Portway is sometimes more loosely applied to the whole southwest to northeast line from Dorchester to London. It is in use as a road now to near Gomeldon but after Porton the railway line to London takes up the route. The two diverge just before Grately, the Portway running on to Amport and across northern Andover.

Portway top (1).jpg


London is a port but Silchester is not even on a river. Port is not used in its old Latin (portus) or modern sense of harbour, but an Anglo Saxon sense of an urban site that can be inland where trading has a royal sanction, a Portway (Port Way, Port Wey, Port Weg, Port Via) links two such sites and is a Kingsway (via regis).

The section from Old Sarum sloping down to the village has become a sunken road or holloway.


Langlands, Alex. 2014. Placing the burh in Searobyrg: rethinking the urban topography of early medieval Salisbury. Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Magazine, vol. 107
Available to read on the village website here

Langlands, Alex. 2019. The Ancient Ways of Wessex. Travel and Communication in an Early Medieval Landscape Chapter 10 Oxbow Books

Codrington, Thomas. 1903. Roman Roads in Britain. The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge


Kerry O’Connor


Photos by the author                                                                                                                                                                                                        

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