Ancient Monuments

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Town defences 270m north and 350m north east of Peveril Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Castleton, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.3417 / 53°20'30"N

Longitude: -1.7737 / 1°46'25"W

OS Eastings: 415162.4715

OS Northings: 382782.992

OS Grid: SK151827

Mapcode National: GBR JY1S.SS

Mapcode Global: WHCCL.Q8KH

Entry Name: Town defences 270m north and 350m north east of Peveril Castle

Scheduled Date: 15 February 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018868

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29937

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Castleton

Built-Up Area: Castleton

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Castleton St Edmund

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument, which is in two areas of protection, includes the earthwork
remains of the medieval town defences of Castleton. The monument is situated
towards the outer limits of the town in the north west and south east corners.
The first historical reference to the town defences was in the 18th century
when it is recorded that an `intrenchment', which began in the lower end of
the valley, enclosed the town, forming a semi-circle to the north east of
Peveril Castle. The construction of the bank and ditch are thought to be
connected with the foundation of the borough in 1196 after Henry II aquired
the castle from the original owners, the Peverels. The defences signified the
towns limits and the size or intended size of the settlement. Within the town
defences Castleton was laid out to a formal grid with the church erected in
its centre and a market place immediately to the south.
The monument survives in both areas of protection as a linear earthwork which
includes a bank and outer ditch. The bank is approximately 12m wide and the
ditch is of a similar width. The section to the south east of the town
measures approximately 200m in length and runs east to west for 100m before
turning to the north and running in this direction for a further 100m. A
modern field boundary follows the line of the earthworks between the bank and
The section to the north west of the town measures approximately 105m in
length and is aligned north to south but curves to the east at its northern
end. This section of the monument is more clearly defined with the bank
sloping down steeply to the west and north. A mill stream now occupies this
section of the town ditch.
The town was originally totally enclosed within the earthwork defences but
elsewhere these have been levelled, infilled and encroached on by later
development. Nevertheless, the original line of the town defences can still be
traced from the surviving remains on the north west side to those on the south
east side of the town. The mill stream marks the line of the ditch on the
northern side of the town and the curve in Mill Lane follows the line around
the north east corner. Modern property boundaries link the western side with
the surviving earthworks in the south west corner of the town.
All fences, walls, gates and information boards are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Between the Roman and post-medieval periods a large number of English Towns
were provided with defences. Construction of these reached its peak in around
1300 although many were then maintained for several centuries thereafter. The
defences could take the form of earthen banks, ditches or masonry walls or a
combination of all three. They were constructed to mark the limits of the town
or its intended size and could be used to defend the town in times of trouble.
Their symbolic role in marking out the settlement and its importance was also
significant and thus many defensive circuits included well built and visually
impressive water-filled moats, walls and gateways. In the medieval period the
development of towns was closely associated with major landholders and many
towns were deliberately established next to major castles so that their lordly
owners could influence and gain from the important market, trade and other
functions of the developing urban centres. In the case of Castleton the town
defences were constructed at the instigation of Henry II at a time when he
held nearby Peveril Castle.
The earthwork remains of Castleton town defences are particularly well
preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. The bank, the buried
land surface beneath the bank and the silt deposits within the ditch will all
hold important information about the method of construction and the
environment at the time the town defences were built. Combined with
documentary references the evidence will greatly enhance our understanding of
the development of the town and its position in the wider medieval landscape.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Derbyshire, (1905), 379-380
Turner, H L, Town Defences in England and Wales, (1971), 118

Source: Historic England

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