The Fosse Way runs alongside my house here in deepest Somerset. It runs from Exeter in the south west to Lincoln in the north-east, and was built by the Romans in the middle of the 1st century AD. The word Fosse comes from the Latin word for ditch (Fossa) and is appropriate for this road as for a long time, the western boundary of Roman controlled Britain was protected by a defensive ditch running between Exeter and Lincoln. Whether the ditch was filled in and the road built later, or whether the road was built to follow the ditch is a subject of much conjecture. What is certain is that the road got its name from the ditch. Unlike Watling Street the Fosse Way has one clear starting point: Exeter in Devon. This was originally a Roman legionary fortress, founded by the Second Legion in 46 AD in a riverside settlement of the Dumnonii. It was clearly a well-placed settlement, as the town flourished and developed into a prosperous town and port. The Fosse Way follows two separate routes for one portion of its length, in the section between Exeter and Bath. The north-eastern route goes directly from Honiton to Ham Hill. The eastern route goes from Honiton to Ham Hill via Axminster. In modern times there is little trace of the Roman Road. In fact, it is not possible to drive from end to end along the Roman route, largely because there is no modern equivalent along much of the section between Bath and Cirencester for example. But its fairly easy right here to see the line of the Roman Road from Yeovil as it goes past our house, over the A303 on towards Shepton Mallett. In fact before the A303 was updated and built here a few years ago this section of the Fosse Way formed part of the main road route west from London (and of course from Lincoln!) and went through Roman Lendinis, now renamed Ilchester (which means place of the Lime Trees. Now you see the connection – Ilchester, Lime Trees, Gin & Tonic, Graeme Elmore. It all fits you see!) It was a settlement defended with earth and stone ramparts and ditches, the town had a wide variety of housing, several temples and a theatre, with stone municipal buildings, and mainly paved streets. Travellers on the road were served by a system of way stations or mansios. The privately-owned cauponae were also established along the routes, providing basic hostel-like accommodation. The upper classes, however, would have used the better tabernae; these began as houses on the roadside offering a service similar to the modern 'bed and breakfast' system. Travellers would also need sufficient money to pay the various tolls along the way. There was a junction of the Fosse Way near here and local roads to Old Sarum (Sorbiodunum), Bawdrip, East Anton, West Coker and Dorchester.

As I look out of my study window on this misty morning, I can see across the fields past the tower of Kingsdon church to the charming village of Charlton Mackerel – I think a little stroll along the now deserted Fosse Way is called for especially as the sun is just breaking through revealing blue skies over the Wiltshire downs to the east of me.It is extraordinary to contemplate what a busy place this must have been and to try and see in one's mind's eye the travellers and the soldiers that must have travelled along right here.

It’s a cracking winter’s morning. and as I go for my walk I'll be thinking of my old chum Jeremy Ames who very kindly phoned the other say. It's great to hear from long-standing pals and aquaintances.