2. Prehistoric trackways
How did people move about in the prehistoric period?
times Shropshire was heavily forested. The easiest and safest routes were across high ground where the number of river crossings could be kept to a miniumum.
Larger image, in a new window [13kb]
[Reproduced with kind permission of Secret Shropshire]
The photograph shown here is the Portway, an important routeway in the prehistoric landscape. It was once used for the neolithic
axe trade (4000-2500BC). Stone axes were central to the neolithic economy and were instrumental in the clearance of land for settlement. Axes have been found considerable distances from their source illustrating the ability of neolithic communities to trade over large distances.
The Portway, which crosses the Long Mynd, avoided the heavily wooded valleys and their streams. The route was still in use throughout the Roman and post Roman period and was recognised as a Kings Highway in the Middle Ages. It declined with the coming of the railways although it is still used today as a bridleway. Along the route of the Portway are small round burials mounds. Some are known to be later than the track and may even be some form of route marker.
During the Bronze Age
there was an increase in the trade of metals and goods. This took place along routes known as ridgeways. Clun Clee is the best known of these. The ridgeway can be seen on the right, as a grassy track. It ran across the southern part of the county from Kerry Hill to Bewdley. Another is The Kerry Ridgeway, the ancient route to Montgomery and beyond. Many of the prehistoric ridgeways
have survived because of their later use as drove roads. Other Bronze Age trackways include Ffordd Saeson, which starts near Oswestry and which connected Anglesey to the Severn Valley. It was used by Irish axe-traders.
Clun Clee Ridgeway
Larger image, in a new window [19.7kb]
[Shropshire Archives reference: PH/C/27/7]
During the Iron Age
there was a need to connect hillforts. Although we know these tracks existed, it is often difficult to see the routes.
Find out about Roman roads: Next
Return to top of page