REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
During the mid-prehistoric period (seventh to fifth centuries BC) a variety of different types of defensive settlements began to be constructed and occupied in the northern uplands of England. The most obvious sites were hillforts built in prominent locations. In addition to these a range of smaller sites, sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha and defined as defended settlements, were also constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops, others are found in less prominent positions. The enclosing defences were of earthen construction, some sites having a single bank and ditch (univallate), others having more than one (multivallate). At some sites these earthen ramparts represent a second phase of defence, the first having been a timber fence or palisade. Within the enclosure a number of stone or timber-built round houses were occupied by the inhabitants. Stock may also have been kept in these houses, especially during the cold winter months, or in enclosed yards outside them. The communities occupying these sites were probably single family groups, the defended settlements being used as farmsteads. Construction and use of this type of site extended over several centuries, possibly through to the early Romano-British period (mid to late first century AD). Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern of the northern uplands and are important for any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during this period. All well-preserved examples are believed to be of national importance.
Cratcliff Rocks defended settlement is well-preserved and is unusual in the use of natural rock outcrops in place of an earth rampart. These natural defences may have been augmented by a timber palisade. It lies within an area rich in prehistoric monuments, including a second defended settlement, and will contribute to any study of settlement and land use in this area at this time.
Cratcliff Rocks is an extensive outcrop on the edge of Harthill Moor in the eastern gritstone moors of Derbyshire. The monument lies within the rocks on the western edge of the outcrop and is a roughly circular enclosure comprising a 5m wide rock-cut ditch surrounding an area of c.0.25 hectares. Boulders enclosed by the ditch form an additional natural boundary and a number of building platforms have been identified within the enclosure. No excavation of the site has been carried out but it forms part of a rich prehistoric landscape on Harthill Moor which includes burial mounds, a second enclosure and Nine Stones Close stone circle.
Book Reference - Author: Hart, Clive - Title: The North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey to AD 1500 - Date: 1981 - Page References: 77 - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: Also figs. 7.4 and 7.5
Book Reference - Author: Heathcote, J.P. - Title: Birchover - Date: 1947 - Page References: 33 - Type: DESC TEXT