PILGRIMS' WAY, THE. From Winchester, in Hamp shire, England, to Canterbury, in Kent, runs a road or way which can still be traced, now on the present made roads, now as a lane, bridle path, or cart track, now only by a line of ancient yews, hollies or oaks which once bordered it. To this old track the name of Pilgrims' Way has been given, for along it passed the stream of pilgrims coming through Winchester from the south and west of England and from the continent of Europe by way of South ampton to Canterbury Cathedral to view the place of the martyr dom of Thomas Becket, in the north transept, the relics in the crypt where he was first buried after his murder, in 117o, and the shrine in the Trinity Chapel which rose above his tomb after the translation of the body in 5220. There were two festivals for the pilgrimage, on the 29th of December, the day of the martyr dom, and on the 7th of July, the day of the translation. The sum mer pilgrimage naturally became the most popular. In 1538 the shrine was destroyed and the relics of the saint scattered, but the great days of the pilgrimage had then passed. Erasmus gives a vivid picture of the glories of the shrine and of all that the pilgrims saw on his visit with Colet to Canterbury in This road, although its name of the Pilgrims' Way has for long confined it to the road by which the pilgrims came to Canterbury from Winchester, follows a far older track. Right back into
British and even older times the main direction which commerce and travellers followed across southern and western England to the Straits of Dover and the Continent lay from Canterbury along the southern chalk slope of the North Downs to near Guildford, then by the Hog's Back to Farnham. At this point the oldest track went across Salisbury Plain towards Stonehenge and so on to Cornwall. From Farnham westward the only portion of this, the oldest track that can now be traced, is a small portion that still bears the name of the Harrow (i.e., hoary, old) road. It was in early times abandoned for the road from Winchester to which the stream of travel and commerce from the Continent and the south and south-west of England was diverted.
The ancient road has been traced fully in Mrs. Ady's book The Pilgrims' Way (1893) , and the older track in the fullest detail in Hilaire Belloc's The Old Road (1904)