Across Roman Britain, we can pick out much that has since become familiar: central heating, hot water and baths, brick and stone houses with straight walls, managed cemeteries beyond city boundaries, literacy, a regulated currency.

But there is really only one thing that lives on as a functioning part of our world: the roads. Roman engineers set a template that still shapes Britain.

Roman grids can often be picked out in our modern cities. When Jenson Button drove a Formula One McLaren along Manchester’s Deansgate in 2011, he was speeding down a Roman road. The junction of Chichester’s two main Roman streets is marked by a medieval cross. A Roman road gave London Oxford Street; another gave the passage that separates the two great blocks of Bloomberg’s new Foster-designed European HQ, opening in the capital in autumn.

Even today the effect is apparent in the countryside, where occasional stretches of long Roman roads disrupt hedgerows on quite different and older alignments. We can still take many of these routes; the Fosse Way between Leicester and Lincoln (the A46) is one, much of Dere Street (the A1 east of the Pennines), another – its Roman metalling has recently been exposed in excavations ahead of major roadworks at Scotch Corner.

Such instances – and there are many more – are details compared to the resilience of the road network as a whole. Earlier this summer, Sasha Trubetskoy published a map of Roman roads in Europe. Trubetskoy is a student at the University of Chicago majoring in statistics.

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