preserving the past for the future
Unlike the sinuous, meandering movement of the Nadder, invading Romans preferred to move along in a more direct fashion. Roman roads were built straight and wide to enable, in the first instance, soldiers to move quickly in formation to achieve safety in numbers from attack, but a secondary benefit was the movement of commercial goods and services and public use.
The Roman road between London and Exeter went through Old Sarum and Dorchester, shown in yellow on the map above. At Lower Bemerton, the road crossed land now occupied by properties in St Andrews Road, Church Lane, across Lower Road, and through the Rectory garden to a ford which the Romans used to cross the marshes towards Stratford Tony enroute to Dorchester.
The Romans provided resting places for their horses and livestock and inns for themselves at intervals along their roads, and locals would often provide services from roadside stalls.
We do not know if Bemerton was one of these resting places, as the Romans gathered and waited to cross the Rectory ford, but a former village family always believed their house had been built on the site of an old Roman inn.
Some fords survived and developed into hamlets, such as Stratford-sub-Castle and Stratford Tony, but most disappeared without trace when other roads and bridges were constructed during the Saxon and later periods.
Whatever influence the Romans had, a nod to their presence remains. Several local roads today take their names from the Roman occupation: Hadrians Close in Lower Bemerton; Centurion Place and even Roman Road, both north of the Wilton Road.