So for the Day 6 Christmas Countdown I thought I would return to my segment on prehistoric Track-ways, with another one that is close to where I live – The Harrow Way.
The Harrow Way, or Old Way, is a ancient track-way in the south of England that runs from Seaton in Devon to Dover in Kent. Archaeological finds gives a date of the track-way to somewhere between to 600 – 450 BC, but may date back to the Neolithic. The course of the Harrow Way takes you through towns that have played important parts in British History, past Long Barrows, hillforts and Roman villas and much more.
It is sometimes refereed to as the ‘oldest road’ and it is believed to be an old trade and pilgrimage route. The eastern part of the Harrow Way was later refereed to as the Pilgrim’s Way after the canonisation of Thomas Beckett.
Etymology: The name may derive from herewag a military road, or har, ancient (as in hoary) way, or heargway, the road to the shrine.
The Eastern Harrow Way
The eastern part of the Harrow Way from Farnham runs on or parallel to the North Downs Way National Trail.
The Harrow Way can be traced from Rochester and alternative Channel ports along the straits of Dover. A principal track also starting in the Great Stour valley from Canterbury, to lead along the North Downs through Maidstone, Guildford to Farnham. With its well-drained soil forming the most traveled of often several terraced routes.
The Pilgrims’ Way, diverts from the Harrow Way and continues from Farnham to Winchester. This pilgrimages route helped the growth of Winchester. Winchester, apart from being an ecclesiastical center (the shrine of St Swithin), was an important regional focus and an aggregation point for travelers arriving through the seaports on the south coast.
The Harrow Ways going eastward just north of Farnham ran through the area now Farnham Park and continued its course along the chalk outcrop, and continued past Badshot Lea, Surrey where an Neolithic Long Barrow was found. The Harrow Way then continues along the crest of the Hog’s Back, where there have also been several barrow burials
The Western Harrow Way
The western part of the Harrow Way, can be traced from Farnham, Surrey west through Basingstoke and Andover to Salisbury Plain and Stonehenge, through Dorset and on to Seaton on the Devon coast.
In Dorset it can be traced through the villages of Halstock and Corscombe, where it is known as Common Lane. At the Halstock , part of the track-way was realigned to form the access for a Roman villa (which was built on the site of a late Iron Age farmstead).
Prehistoric Track-Ways Future Plans: My plans in the New Year is to try and walk interesting sections of the Harrow Way and take a picture/Video diary of some of the walks. I also have the intention to walk some of the interesting Roman Roads in Hampshire too.
Grinsell, Leslie (1958). The archaeology of Wessex. London: Methuen. p. 298.
Wikipedia. 2018. Harrow Way. [ONLINE] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrow_Way. [Accessed 6 December 2018].