The Icknield Way
is one of the oldest roads in Britain
, perhaps 4,000 years old. It stretches from Ivinghoe Beacon
to Knettishall Heath
. It could be described as a belt studded with archaeological sites found at irregular intervals. Many modern roads follow the Icknield Way, for example the main road at Dunstable
that crosses Watling Street
(A5). In other places, especially to the east of Luton
the route is followed by much more minor roads, and is not distinguishable at all in many places. To the west of Ivinghoe Beacon, the track extends along the scarp of the Chiltern Hills
, and can be detected as far west as Wiltshire
. However, this section of the track is not usually referred to as the Icknield Way, and may date from a different period from the eastern section. A modern long distance path
, The Ridgeway
, follows the western course.
The Icknield Way used to form part of the boundary between Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, and at one time Royston was cut in two by this boundary. Royston is where the Icknield Way crosses Ermine Street.
The road is named for the Iceni tribe of ancient Britain, who are thought to have established this route to permit trade with other parts of the country from their base in East Anglia.