Not Just Any Road

The village of Talke is a north Staffordshire rural settlement some five miles north-west of the market town of Newcastle under Lyme.

The village had an important place in early medieval England (possibly much earlier in Britain’s history) on account of a major transport route running through this tiny village.

For hundreds of years the north Staffordshire and Cheshire border village benefited greatly from a major northern transport route from London and the South to the north-west of England which ran and still does partly, through the very small rural settlement. The road, now labelled the A34, runs as far north as Carlisle, the Scottish border. And, during Roman Britain times, in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Centuries A.D. to Hadrian’s Wall.

Talke. Which in itself, by it’s very own name, denotes in old Saxon or Norse ‘High Place’ from the Germanic word ‘Tor.’
Crown Bank Cottage circa 1577

Talke is a village in the north of the Staffordshire county of England north-west of Newcastle-under-Lyme: an ancient market town and location an old Anglo-Saxon and, later Norman castle (now gone). Both mentioned in the 11th. century Norman chronology of England: ‘The Doomsday Book.’
The villages name, Talke ( or ‘Talke o” the Hill” of old) denotes in old Saxon or Norse ‘High Place’ from the Germanic word ‘tor.’
This road, the original A34, runs south from the extremely important port of Portsmouth in southern England, then later linked London, right up, some 500 miles, through the back-bone of England’s southern route to the north-west and to Carlisle in the north of England, to the Scottish border and to Hadrian’s Wall.

Roman Roads of Britain - Britannia - circa 150 AD
Roman Roads of Britain – Britannia – circa 150 AD

There is still evidence of the original Roman roads behind the houses of Coppice Road, perfectly preserved. Just as they were at the times of the Roman Legions. Who marched up these roads to conqueror the British tribes some 2,000 years ago. This forms an ancient, definitely a Roman junction or crossroads which I believe is the original Talke Crossroads moved down Coal-pit Hill at the time of the building of the Toll-gate on the present Talke crossroad moved there in the 19th century/ early 1800s by Thomas Telford. When he constructed the by-pass and new roads around Talkes very steep sided hill that the horse drawn travellers on the A34 then, both North & South bound, were forced to climb.

Talke Celtic and Saxon market square The Old Queens Head and Swan Hotel public houses top of the hill
Talke Celtic and Saxon market square The Old Queens Head and Swan Hotel public houses top of very steeply sided hill

The old junction, much further up Talke hill consists of: Merelake Way (Fox-holes to us locals) that joins Audley Rd. further down it’s windy route west into Alsager and Cheshire. Swan Bank heading south toward the ancient Newcastle-under-Lyme market town and ‘Chesterton’ a small settlement some 3 miles south of Talke and the site of an old Roman military fort or camp recently discovered by local archaeologists. And, Coalpit Hill Which leads north towards the Roman city of Manchester, seen on the horizon here some 40 miles directly north along the current A34 route through Cheshire.
And, that the old Roman road seen behind the houses of the Coppice Rd. in Talke (still visible today) is the ancient Roman road and possibly, more than likely it’s the very, very old ‘Salt Road’ to Chester – Cheshire before the Romans got here in approximately: 50 A.D. This was in fact, here at the Talke Social Club former site – Merelake – Coppice Rd., Swan Bank & Coalpit Hill is, I believe, is the original Talke Crossroads. An Ancient Junction. Before Thomas Telford (1757–1834) – The World Famous British civil engineer built one of the world’s first ring-roads or by-pass in the early 1820’s. And, not as I was told as a child, built by the less famous civil engineer; James Brindley. Who died years before in 1772.

OS - Ordnance Survey Map of Talke
OS – Ordnance Survey Map of Talke

Maybe, long ago, in Roman times (or even, maybe, many years before!) that this was the original Talke crossroads, near the top of the hill, at the heart of this ancient, prehistoric and Saxon north Staffordshire village.
An ancient Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, English and later; British (and, for now, western European!) high-hilltop-settlement of the village of Talke.
That I personally, will always call: HOME! 🙂

2 Replies to “Not Just Any Road”

  1. Thanks for this. Absolutely fascinating as someone who lived on Coppice Road from birth with a grandfather who lived in Talke Pitts. You refer to the old Roman road running down behind the houses of Coppice Road. Was this The one that joined into Coppice Road at the top?
    Also do you know much about the history of the farm next to St Martins?
    Our house was built on a plot of land just after the war and for many years we had fields to the side and behind the house. Given the other houses/bungalows on the Road were for the most part of different designs I wondered if all the land we/they sat on was part of the original farm land. My parents said the farm had been lost through gambling and ended up being owned by Jervis’s?


    1. Thanks Jim. The Roman road is off Coppice road Talke, where you lived mate.The farm has indeed changed ownership recently from the very old farming local family the Sidebottoms . The farm buildings there are the oldest surviving buildings in Talke. The barnyard seen in one of the photos above is over a thousand years old and a listed building. Thanks again for the very positive feedback.

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