The Romans were more prolific at road building than Highways England today, and many of these ancient routes remain the backbone of the British network. One of the oldest and most famous is the Fosse Way, built when Christianity was still in its infancy. It remains a direct route between Lincoln and Exeter.
What better car to explore this ancient road than the oldest model in Jaguar’s current line-up, an F-TYPE convertible? Like the Fosse Way, old doesn’t mean out of date. It’s time to put on my sandals and go
It looks like any other British junction – typically busy with morning commuters and endless lorries – but the Hykeham Roundabout (just outside Lincoln) marks the known start of the Fosse Way, one of the Romans’ most important British roads.
Of course, it would have been a lot different when it was built in around 43AD: the road signs would have been smaller and there would have been fewer BMW drivers hogging the fast lane.
With the natives adopting the Roman roads after the conquerors left, this ancient road is more or less intact, still linking Lindum Colonia (Lincoln) in the East Midlands to Isca Dumnoniorum (the current location of Exeter) in the southwest, some 230 miles.
Unsurprisingly, as any child will tell you, Roman roads are straighter than hipster jeans, and the Fosse Way is no different. Look on a map and it cuts the country in half more effectively than Brexit. It is an incredible feat, never straying more than six miles (10km) from a straight line. If only the bloke who landscaped my garden had been that accurate.
My journey will end at Bath, 180 miles away, taking in Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Somerset. A decent day-trip by today’s standards, never mind 2,000 years ago, but I have the perfect car: an F-TYPE P380 convertible.
Although I’ve driven several before (including this Madagascar Orange example – see May 2019, p68), I’m still excited by the journey ahead. The F-TYPE might be six years old, but it remains the best-handling car that Jaguar has ever produced, while the Fosse Way is one of our most exciting cross-country routes. Together, they should make for a fun day.
From Lincoln to Leicester, the A46 follows the exact course of the Fosse Way. Although it diverts around Brough and East Stoke, the Roman road continues unabated through the villages, still called either Fosse Way or Fosse Road.
The word fosse is derived from the Latin fossa, meaning ditch, and it’s thought the road began as a defensive ditch that was later filled in and converted into a road, or possibly a defensive ditch ran alongside the road for at least some of its length.
As ditches go, it’s a good one. Arrow straight and very smooth, I can safely put my foot down, the car responding the moment I do. After the eight-speed automatic ’box drops down a couple of gears, the car accelerates forward crisply and quickly, the deep, fruity rasp coming from its sports exhaust heightening my excitement. I first drove an F-TYPE V6 six years ago, and it’s no less entertaining this time around.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
The Old Way
With manufacture of the X351 XJ now finished, the F-TYPE takes over the mantle of Jaguar’s oldest production model. To discover more about the continuing allure of this six-year-old sports car, we drive a 380PS V6 convertible from Lincoln to Bath on the UK’s oldest road, the Fosse Way
On the brink of the abyss in the early Eighties, Jaguar saw its fortunes turned around by a new chairman, John Egan. We meet up with him at the Jaguar Heritage Trust at Gaydon to talk about his strategies for the company’s recovery
The good old days
Dressing The Bonnet
With the bonnet now fitted to our E-type, we adorn it with lights
2003 XJ8 4.2 Sport
A heavy schedule sees Paul using the Project XJ8 to drive to photoshoots all over the country. But is the car reliable?
Forget handmade limousines – today’s luxury saloons are smaller and more economical, and while they don’t come with a chauffeur, they do offer a high level of specification. We check out the XF Portfolio
Bobby Unser, Pikes Peak, 1958
1966 E-type FHC; 1966 OTS
Jim is pleased to see the fixedhead coupe arrive homewith its bonnet fitted, while the open car goes into hibernation
After years learning his trade, Colin James felt it was time to establish his own business. We visit his workshop near Wakefield to learn more
Britain Still Can't Escape Europe
Brexit will not end the U.K.’s long, fraught relationship with the Continent
'56 FORD CROWN VICTORIA
Pandemic can't thwart DISHS thespians
Theater class holds performance outdoors
BOLD, BRAZEN BANK-ROBBING BANDIT OF THE INDIAN TERRITORY
Reading in the Bardo
SEEKING COMFORT IN THE ABSENCE OF RITUAL
LINCOLN EXITS THE PASSENGER CAR BUSINESS THE WAY IT ENTERED— WITH A CUSTOM COACH-BUILD
Great Coach-Built Lincolns
Coach Door caps a long line of hand-crafted Lincolns (and we’re not talking bachelorette-party limos)
UPDATE: SEMARATICAL Build-Off and Drive-Off
MN Outlaw Customs takes on the challenge
Alexander Tully named second honor essayist at GSA
Alexander Patrick Tully, Second Honor Essayist.
Next Stop, Brexit: Britain's EU Divorce Bill Becomes Law
Britain’s delayed and disputed Brexit bill became law on Thursday, removing the last U.K. obstacle to the country leaving the European Union in just over a week.