Ancient Monuments

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Palisaded hilltop enclosure 230m SSE of Dirt Low

A Scheduled Monument in Castleton, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.3353 / 53°20'7"N

Longitude: -1.767 / 1°46'1"W

OS Eastings: 415610.493245

OS Northings: 382071.942463

OS Grid: SK156820

Mapcode National: GBR JY3W.73

Mapcode Global: WHCCL.TFRF

Entry Name: Palisaded hilltop enclosure 230m SSE of Dirt Low

Scheduled Date: 11 December 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020306

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31306

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 includes a palisaded hilltop enclosure situated in an area of
upland pasture. The enclosure dates to the late Bronze Age or early Iron Age
and provides evidence for settlement and agricultural practices.

The monument occupies a gently sloping shelf bordered to the east and south by
the steep-sided gully of Pin Dale and overlooked by higher ground to the west.
The enclosure is defined by a stony bank measuring between 2m and 3m in
width. The enclosure bank forms a slightly irregular oval containing an area
measuring 50m by 60m at its greatest extents. The bank is clearly visible,
incorporating a large number of substantial quartz-rock boulders (measuring up
to 1.5m in diameter). A break in the north side of the enclosure bank is
indicative of an entrance. A larger break measuring approximately 4m across
exists in the centre of the south side of the enclosure, this is also
characteristic of an entrance. Along its and eastern and north eastern sides,
parts of the enclosure bank appear to have been constructed by enhancing
natural rock outcrops. Further rock outcrops are visible within the northern
and western confines of the enclosure. No features have been identified
within the enclosure, although a detailed metrical or geophysical survey may
reveal hitherto unidentified occupation remains.

The monument is comparable with several other enclosures found on the
limestone plateau, most of which are situated on similar false crest or
plateau locations. It is associated with a similar, larger enclosure some 600m
to the south west, which has been severely damaged as a result of lead mining
and a modern road diversion.

The form and location of the Pin Dale enclosure indicates that it was used for
corralling stock and may also have comprised a small settlement site. The
enclosure bank is thought to have been more substantial during its period of
use, soil erosion having exposed the stone footings presently visible. The
enclosure bank is also thought to have provided a setting for a timber
palisade for enclosing stock and protecting them from wild animals.

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

A palisaded hilltop enclosure is a small defended site of domestic function
dating to the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age (c.550-440 BC). Their
distribution is largely restricted to north-eastern England, the Borders and
southern Scotland. They are generally located on spurs, promontories or
hilltops covering areas of less than 0.4ha. The boundaries of these sites are
marked by single or double rock-cut trenches which originally formed the
settings for substantial palisades. Remains of circular buildings are found
within the palisaded areas, along with evidence for fenced stock enclosures.
Palisaded sites are the earliest type of defended settlements recorded in the
area and are thought to be a product of increasingly unsettled social
conditions in the later prehistoric period. They imply an extensive use of
timber, confirmation that large areas were heavily wooded at this time.
Although the palisades at individual sites may have undergone several phases
of replacement or refurbishment it is thought that the tradition of building
this type of site spanned only around 150 years. After this the use of earthen
banks and ditches to form the defensive perimeter became more common.
Excavation has demonstrated that at several sites the earthen defences were
preceded by timber palisades.
Palisaded enclosures are a rare monument type with fewer than 200 known
examples. They are an important element of the later prehistoric settlement
pattern and are important for any study of the developing use of defended
settlements during the later prehistoric period. All identified surviving
examples are believed to be nationally important.

The enclosure 230m SSE of Dirt Low is important as one of only a handful of
suviving palisaded hilltop enclosures in the Peak District. Such enclosures
are thought to have been much more common than is represented by surviving
examples, the few known enclosures all being located on marginal land that has
never been ploughed. The monument therefore forms part of a small but
particularly important resource for the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age of
this region, providing important information about settlement and agriculture
during the period. The enclosure survives in good condition with the remains
of the bank clearly visible. There is excellent potential for further
undisturbed remains beneath the ground surface.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Barnatt, JW, Aston Hall - Land at Castleton Derbyshire, Archaeological Survey, (1992), 2,3
Hart, CR, North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey, (1984), 77
Bevan, W J, 'Illustrations' in DAAC Romano-British Settlement Survey, (2000), ill# 30
Sketch plan from PDNPA archive, Butcher, L, Palisaded enclosures: Pindale, (1981)

Source: Historic England

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