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Authority English Heritage
Other Ref SM Cat. No. 80
Date assigned Thursday, November 2, 1950
Date last amended Thursday, September 9, 1993


REASONS FOR DESIGNATION 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 important. Although the interior of Fin Cop promontory fort has been ploughed in the past, the monument survives well and retains substantial archaeological remains throughout, particularly in its well-preserved defensive earthworks. The character of the promontory as a focus for human activity over a long period of time is demonstrated both by the bowl barrow and the modern limekiln on the western edge of the fort. Bowl barrows are prehistoric funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic to the Late Bronze Age (c.2400-1500BC) and were constructed as hemispherical mounds of rubble or earth covering single or multiple burials. Sometimes ditched, they occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as foci for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar, though differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows recorded nationally, with many more having already been destroyed. Their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important evidence on burial practices and social organisation among early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. Lime burning is an industry which is known to have been carried out in this country for at least two thousand years, and there are examples of lime kilns dating from the Roman and medieval periods, as well as from the relatively recent past. The 'double pye-kiln' on Fin Cop is a larger version of the simple 'pye-kiln' in which alternate layers of limestone and fuel were built up behind a flue then covered over with turf and allowed to burn until the lime had been extracted from the stone. It was then raked out of the flue and used for a variety of purposes, including spreading on pasture to improve it and for lining ponds. In a 'double pye-kiln' two flues were needed to extract the lime, simply due to the size of the structure and the amount of material being burned. In contrast to the commercial dry-walled 'running kilns', in which fuel and limestone were continually fed in through a hole in the top, 'pye-kilns' tended to be purely domestic and may have been used only once or twice before being abandoned. They are a common feature of the limestone plateau of Derbyshire and are found in all the limestone areas of England. DETAILS Fin Cop is a steep-sided promontory situated on the western edge of Longstone Moor on the limestone plateau of Derbyshire. The monument occupies the north-west corner of the promontory, overlooking Monsal Dale to the north and Wye Dale to the west. It includes a Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age promontory fort and, within the area covered by the fort, an Early Bronze Age bowl barrow and an eighteenth century limekiln with an attached limestone quarry. The promontory fort comprises a level sub-rectangular area defined on the north and west sides by the steep scarps above the two dales and on the east and south sides by earthwork defences. Starting on the edge of Monsal Dale to the north, these defences extend southwards for 225m then curve south-west for a further 160m before ending on the edge of Wye Dale. From this point, a linear feature extends northwards back to the edge of Monsal Dale and is interpreted as the site of the timber palisade that would have enclosed the fort on this side. It consists of a low bank with a narrow berm or terrace to the west and then a slight counterscarp bank. It appears, wholly or partly, to have utilised a natural break in the limestone outcrop. The earthwork defences round the landward edge of the fort consist, for the northernmost 180m, of a bank, ditch and counterscarp bank, then, for the rest of the circuit, of a bank or rampart only. The more massive inner bank is currently c.5m wide by 1.5m-2m high, the ditch is c.3m wide by 1m-1.5m deep and the counterscarp bank is c.2m wide by 1m high. Although no longer visible, it is likely that the ditch extended round the southern section of the rampart and has become silted up and levelled by ploughing since the fort was abandoned. Together with the remains of the counterscarp bank, it will survive as a buried feature and is included within the scheduling. A gap in the double bank and ditch on the east side indicates the original entrance into the fort. Near the western edge of the fort, just north of the eighteenth century quarry, are the ploughed over remains of an earlier Bronze Age bowl barrow. The barrow was quarried for its stone in the late eighteenth century, possibly to feed the adjacent lime kiln. Subsequently, in 1795, it was partially excavated by Rooke. His discoveries included a rock-cut grave built up with stone and covered by a capstone. Inside was a disarticulated skeleton accompanied by two flint arrowheads. Elsewhere in the mound, he found a dry-walled cist, or grave, containing the remains of a cremation, while, on the south-east side three pottery 'urns' were discovered, one of which has since been identified as a ceremonial food vessel. These contained further cremations and one of the 'urns' also contained an arrowhead. Two further inhumations were found on the east side of the mound. In its present disturbed condition, the barrow has a diameter of 24m by 23m and a height of c.0.5m though, originally it would have been between 1m and 2m high. Roughly 20m to the south is an eighteenth century lime kiln set in its own small quarry. The kiln is of the type known as a 'double pye-kiln'. The modern field walls crossing the monument are excluded from the scheduling though the ground beneath is included. SELECTED SOURCES Book Reference - Author: Barnatt, John - Title: The Peak District Barrow Survey - Date: 1989 - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: Site 4;13 Book Reference - Author: Barnatt, John - Title: The Peak District Barrow Survey - Date: 1989 - Type: PLAN: MEASURED - Description: Site 4;13 Book Reference - Author: Bateman, T. - Title: Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire - Date: 1848 - Page References: 26 - Type: DESC TEXT Book Reference - Author: Marsden B - Title: The Burial Mounds of Derbyshire (1977) - Date: 1977 - Page References: 9 - Type: DESC TEXT Article Reference - Author: Manby T G - Title: Food Vessels of the Peak District (1957) - Date: 1957 - Journal Title: Derbyshire Archaeological Journal - Volume: 77 - Page References: 14 - Type: DESC TEXT Article Reference - Author: Preston, F.L. - Title: The hill-forts of the Peak - Date: 1954 - Journal Title: Derbyshire Archaeological Journal - Volume: 74 - Page References: 1-31 - Type: DESC TEXT Article Reference - Author: Rooke, Major H. - Title: Discoveries in a barrow in Derbyshire - Date: 1796 - Journal Title: Archaeologia - Volume: 12 - Page References: 327-31 - Type: DESC TEXT

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Sources (1)

  • Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1950. Scheduling notification: Fin Cop promontory fort, bowl barrow and eighteenth century lime kiln with associated quarry. List entry no. 1011205. SM Cat. No. 80.



Grid reference Centred SK 1748 7099 (147m by 324m)
Map sheet SK17SE

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Record last edited

Aug 14 2013 4:17PM

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