A MAJOR upgrade of the A1 has uncovered fascinating new evidence about a significant phase in British history – including the fact the Romans not only built roads, but also had to repair potholes.

As part of an improvement of the A1 in North Yorkshire, archaeologists discovered the Romans settled in the area at least a decade earlier than previously thought, producing coins and interacting with local people.

They also found evidence of early investment in infrastructure and 2,000-year-old attempts to fix potholes.

The illuminating discoveries on Highways England’s upgrade of the A1 between Leeming and Barton focussed around Scotch Corner, still a significant road junction today.

Heralded by Historic England as one of the top ten archaeological discoveries of the decade, the finds are documented in a new book out today.

The A1 upgrade is one of several Highways England projects across the country helping experts uncover more of England’s rich history.

Highways England worked with AECOM, lead designers for the A1 project, responsible for managing the archaeological work and analysis.

Dr Jonathan Shipley, AECOM principal heritage consultant, said: “Scotch Corner is now known as a key junction on the Highways England network, but the remains identified show it was also the site of a much older junction.

"The remains include evidence of an Iron Age settlement where coin production, the first north of the River Humber, was potentially taking place. The extraordinary objects provided us with an insight of the interaction between the Romans and the local population.

“Other fascinating finds include evidence for the upkeep of the Roman road network, with the site revealing potholes that had been repaired.

"Evidence of investment in the road infrastructure during Roman times links well with the recent investment in infrastructure which resulted in the discovery of the site.”

Before major road projects begin, teams of archaeologists carefully peel back the surface of construction sites to ensure that archaeological remains are preserved and recorded.

By commissioning experts and working closely with the country’s heritage bodies and local authorities, Highways England can ensure knowledge is conserved and our understanding of the past is enhanced.

Highways England’s principal cultural heritage advisor, Jim Hunter, said: “At Highways England we try to have as little effect on the historic environment as we can.

"Where the disturbance of archaeological remains is unavoidable we are committed to recording them to as high a standard as possible so that the information they contain is available for everyone now and in the future."

The A1 project finds are detailed in ‘Contact, Concord and Conquest: Britons and Romans at Scotch Corner'.

It represents a major step forward in understanding of the Roman conquest of the north, and will set the agenda for studies into the Late Iron Age and conquest.