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Via Devana


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A third main route, now generally known as the Via Devana, but more properly by its local Saxon name of "Gartree" Road or Street was made by the Romans as a means of communication between their Stations east and west at Colchester and Chester (Deva). This road entered Leicestershire from the south-east, near Rockingham, and may still be traced in parts of the lane leading thence by the villages of Little and Great Stretton (so named after the street) to Stoughton Grange, where it diverged across the present Evington fields and passed down the line of the New Walk to Leicester, entering the town, according to the best authorities, at the South Gate which stood as we have seen, about the centre of Millstone Lane.

It there formed the main street running northwards, taking a line somewhat to the east of the present Southgate Street, which was of later construction; and after crossing the Foss Road near the centre of the Station, in or about high Cross Street, it passed out by the North Gate. It then crossed the river, probably on the site of the North Bridge, and leaving the present "Woodgate" on the left, proceeded in a north-westerly direction, as the still existing "Old Anstey Lane" (also known as the "Continuation of the Via Devana") passing behind Leicester Frith, and by Groby to Ashby and Burton-on-Trent, onward to Chester.

Again, authorities differ as to the line of this road by or through Leicester, one of the received opinions being that it did not enter the walls, but passed down the line of the London Road, Gallowtree Gate and Church Gale, and thence across the meadows and river towards Anstey and Groby; and if this theory is correct, that would be a "via vicinalis," only which branched off in a westerly direction at the top of the hill on the London Road, and by the line of the New Walk connected it with the South Gate of the town. The former, however, would seem to be the more probable conclusion.

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