Dan and Bex are on a road trip. Roads have been around for hundreds of years – but how DO you build a road? And what makes a road perfect?
A lot of work goes into making the perfect road and the surface is a big part of that. Imagine how they did it in the past!
The first job was to clear space for the road. Trees, boulders, stumps and stones would have to be moved – and in the days before diggers and tractors this would have been done by hand.
Or if you were lucky – with the help of a horse.
Labourers would use rakes and scrapers to smooth the surface to make them safe for wagons and stagecoaches.
Last thing you would want was lots of potholes or your wooden wheels might break.
Where roads are built is just as important as how they’re built! The aim is always to find the quickest and shortest route between two points. This makes it quicker to reach our destinations. We have lots of technology now to help us work out the best routes but it wasn’t always so easy…
If you were a medieval road builder, you’d have to get out in the countryside to map a route, making sure you’d made careful notes of all the obstacles along the way.
Planners used metal chains to measure the distance between two points.
Each chain was 66 foot long and eighty chains equalled one mile. And if they needed to check the direction – well they’d use a compass!
People have always tried to improve roads and another important part of making the perfect road has been to make them be tough to handle the traffic, and help them cope with all weathers.
Large stones were spread evenly on hard earth and topped with smaller stones with clay and gravel on top. Drains were added to help water run away so that the surface didn’t get clogged up with mud.