by Mervyn Benford
The London-Aberystwyth route, with its connecting branch from Oxford/Woodstock joining at Kiddington, arrived at Little Rollright at a crossroads with a tollgate managing it. It’s today a narrow country lane but has the last Oxfordshire milestone of the type of many others along the A40 and the Kiddington-Islip-Wheatley route the main route followed and by-passing Oxford. At this crossroads with tollgate the Aberystwyth route crosses an old route from Banbury to Moreton and/or Stow- as today. That road marked and still does the Oxon./Warwks. border. Go straight across a few yards and the road branches left towards Little Compton and eventually Moreton on the route to Wales and right downhill to Long Compton. So I’m supposing the EH reference to top of Long Compton Hill means just that- the tollgate at the crossroads.
Bridgetown means the land between the A34 and the Banbury road A422 so a road existed as today and in 1825 repairs commissioned. Milestones with plates existed at some point along this road from the references to 1790. The new road authorised as a branch to join the road from top of Long Compton to Woodstock and joining it must mark a time when the original road from LC village to the tollgate at the crossroads (top of Long Compton Hill) became discontinued as a major route from Oxford to Stratford/Birmingham. The new road became a new Long Compton Hill. One stone milestone remains in the section before it joins the original route at the junction to Over Norton/Little Rollright as also in Ogilby.
We can surmise the 1790 stones between Stratford and Long Compton were replaced by the lamp-post variety but repairs authorised in 1825 suggests it may not have been these- the route from Shipston to Long Compton also changed and as Mike Buxton’s information shows there as a time later when locals complained that two sets of markers remained in places and were confusing. The older of these would have been the older route and maybe different distances. At some point the lamp-post variety were established and followed a route also changed effectively rendering the then existing 1790 stone markers at least redundant in many cases, notably where the new road was literally new land. Maybe there would be clues in the facts behind the changing of the route from Shipston to Long Compton. These are still missing pieces of the puzzle though the EHG reference to c.1825 does suggest they could have come as part of those 1825 repairs…I’m not so sure that completely follows.
Alan Reade adds:
I have acquired a book ‘The Welsh Cattle Drovers’ by Richard Colyer, University of Wales Press 1976. This has maps of the routes used by the Welsh cattle trade in the pre-railway 18th and 19th centuries based on the drovers’ account books. Some of these routes deliberately avoided roads that were turnpiked for obvious reasons (on both sides) but there is a route from mid-Wales to Leominster then which skirts Worcester to Pershore, Broadway , Moreton, Long Compton and Rollright. Instead of turning south here, however it continues east to Bicester, then Aylesbury and Tring towards London.
There may be nothing of interest here (or in another couple of books on the subject that I have) concerning the route of the A34 (or milestones) but I’ll let you know if I come across anything relevant.