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Markland Grips promontory fort

A Scheduled Monument in Elmton with Creswell, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.271 / 53°16'15"N

Longitude: -1.2362 / 1°14'10"W

OS Eastings: 451037.915682

OS Northings: 375165.422209

OS Grid: SK510751

Mapcode National: GBR MZTM.54

Mapcode Global: WHDFC.Z1JP

Entry Name: Markland Grips promontory fort

Scheduled Date: 2 October 1936

Last Amended: 4 February 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011428

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23311

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Elmton with Creswell

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Elmton St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument is divided into two separate areas and is a promontory fort
occupying a magnesian limestone spur at the fork of two gorges known as
Markland Grips and Hollinhill Grips. The fort includes a tongue-shaped
interior, with an area of c.4ha, bounded on the west side by a series of
parallel ramparts and ditches and, on the remaining three sides, by the steep
cliff edges of the spur. Near their south end, the ramparts have been cut
through by a 19th century railway line which has now been dismantled. South of
this, the terminals of all three ramparts are visible as earthworks projecting
into the adjacent field. On the north side, only the inner rampart survives as
an upstanding feature, roughly bisected by a 10m wide entrance. It measures
c.3m high and is c.15m wide at the base and c.8m wide at the top. A 15m wide
ditch is visible along the west side, south of the entrance. The remaining two
ramparts and the intervening ditches, known to have been visible in 1905,
survive as buried features in the ploughed field west of the promontory.
Both the plan of the earthworks drawn in 1905 and the results of fieldwalking
carried out after ploughing in 1969 show that the outer and middle ramparts
were joined together by an additional bank north of the central entrance and
that the inner and middle ramparts were similarly joined south of the
entrance. This indicates that the entrance is contemporary with one of the
occupation phases of the fort and is not a modern creation. A separate
earthwork within the entrance, at the end of the middle rampart, marks the
site of a gatehouse. A further entrance existed at the north-west corner of
the fort where partial excavations, carried out by H C Lane and others in
1969, located fragments of Central Gaulish samian pottery dating to the Roman
period. A section of the inner rampart was also excavated in 1969 and showed
the rampart to be of dump construction, comprising a clay and gravel core with
flat limestone slabs laid horizontally into the face of the core. Other
small-scale excavations were carried out in the interior of the fort and
provided evidence of two occupation phases. The earlier phase was identified
from sherds of fine Iron Age pottery while the later phase was associated with
coarse Romano-British pottery of the second or third century AD. Evidence of
boneworking and metalworking was also found but not in association with
datable artefacts. In 1883, the Reverend J H Gray records that silver Roman
coins of approximately the same date as the Romano-British pottery were found
at the fort.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Promontory forts are a type of hillfort in which conspicuous naturally
defended sites are adapted as enclosures by the construction of one or more
earth or stone ramparts placed across the neck of a spur in order to divide it
from the surrounding land. Coastal situations, using headlands defined by
steep natural cliffs, are common while inland similar topographic settings
defined by natural cliffs are also used. The ramparts and accompanying ditches
formed the main artificial defence, but timber palisades may have been erected
along the cliff edges. Access to the interior was generally provided by an
entrance through the ramparts. The interior of the fort was used intensively
for settlement and related activities, and evidence for timber- and stone-
walled round houses can be expected, together with the remains of buildings
used for storage and enclosures for animals. Promontory forts are generally
Iron Age in date, most having been constructed and used between the sixth
century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are broadly contemporary with
other types of hillfort. They are regarded as settlements of high status,
probably occupied on a permanent basis, and recent interpretations suggest
that their construction and choice of location had as much to do with display
as defence. Promontory forts are rare nationally with less than 100 recorded
examples. In view of their rarity and their importance in the understanding of
the nature of social organisation in the later prehistoric period, all
examples with surviving archaeological remains are considered nationally

Although the interior and part of the defences of Markland Grips promontory
fort have been disturbed by ploughing, the monument survives reasonably well
and is a good example of an Iron Age settlement site that was reoccupied
during the Roman period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Gray, Reverend J H , Bolsover Castle, (1883)
Challis, A J, Harding, D, 'BAR 20, Part 2' in Later Prehistory from the Trent to the Tyne, (1975)
Lane, H C, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Markland Grips Iron Age Promontory Fort: An Interim Report, , Vol. 89, (1969)
Preston, F L, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in The Hill-Forts of the Peak, , Vol. 74, (1954)

Source: Historic England

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