Ancient Monuments

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Roman fortlet 320m east of Highstones

A Scheduled Monument in Tintwistle, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.4878 / 53°29'16"N

Longitude: -1.9046 / 1°54'16"W

OS Eastings: 406428.179451

OS Northings: 399012.116555

OS Grid: SK064990

Mapcode National: GBR HX43.GG

Mapcode Global: WHB9M.QL8K

Entry Name: Roman fortlet 320m east of Highstones

Scheduled Date: 7 September 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019061

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29972

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Tintwistle

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Tintwistle Christ Church

Church of England Diocese: Chester


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of Highstones Roman
fortlet. The monument is situated at approximately 250m above sea level on a
gentle, south facing slope to the north of Torside Reservoir. The site
commands extensive views for at least five miles east and west along
Longdendale and would have been ideal for controlling the southern exit of
Crowden Brook Valley.

The monument survives as a sub-rectangular enclosure with rounded corners, a
shape which is characteristic of Roman fortification construction. The
enclosure measures approximately 48m by 52m and is surrounded by a rampart
and external ditch with a low bank running along the outer edge of the ditch
on the western side. The ditch is V-shaped in profile and measures between 6m
and 10m wide. The rampart also measures about 10m wide but is only clearly
evident on the north and west edges of the enclosed platform. Irregular
earthworks in the north east and south west corners of the platform suggest
that later, small scale quarrying may have removed sections of the rampart. A
causewayed entrance is visible mid-way along the southern side of the monument
but the details of this have been distorted by a dry stone wall which has
been built across the monument from east to west. A second wall bisects the
monument from north to south. Neither wall respects the earthwork and it is
possible that some stone used in their construction was obtained from the
small quarry scars on the internal surface of the platform and rampart. A
fragment of quern stone thought to be of Roman date was found incorporated in
the stone walls.

All modern gates and dry stone walls are excluded from the scheduling although
the ground beneath them is included.

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

Roman fortlets are small rectangular enclosures with rounded corners defined
by a fortified rampart of turf and earth with one or more outer ditches. The
ramparts were originally revetted at the front and rear by timber uprights in
shallow trenches and were almost certainly crowned with timber wall walks and
Fortlets were constructed from the first century AD to at least the later
fourth century AD to provide accommodation for a small detachment of troops
generally deployed on a temporary basis of between one to two years and
supplied by a fort in the same area. The function of fortlets varies from
place to place; some were positioned to guard river crossings or roads,
particularly at vulnerable points such as crossroads, whilst others acted as
supply bases for signal towers. Roman fortlets are rare nationally with
approximately 50 examples known in Britain, half of which are located in
Scotland. As such, and as one of a small group of Roman military monuments
which are important in representing army strategy and therefore government
policy, fortlets are of particular significance to our understanding of the
period and all surviving examples are considered nationally important.

The Roman fortlet 320m east of Highstones is a particularly rare and well
preserved example of this type of monument in Derbyshire. The small scale
quarrying of sections of the rampart and platform does not detract from the
importance of the site or the archaeological potential of the monument.
Deposits in the base of the ditch, the makeup of the rampart, the buried land
surface beneath the rampart and any sub-surface features will preserve
important artefactual and ecofactual material. Such material is important to
the understanding of the construction and use of the fortlet as well as the
impact of the Roman occupation on the wider landscape.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ellison, P, Contour Survey of ditched feature at Highstones, Tintwistle1-10
Hart, CR, North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey, (1984), 90

Source: Historic England

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