REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
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.
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 The first historical reference to the town defences was in the 18th century when it is recorded that an `intrenchment', which began in the lower end of the valley, enclosed the town, forming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 ditch. 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.
Book Reference - Author: Page, W - Title: The Victoria History of the County of Derbyshire - Date: 1905 - Page References: 379-380 - Type: DESC TEXT
Book Reference - Author: Turner, H. L. - Title: Town Defences in England and Wales - Date: 1971 - Page References: 118 - Type: DESC TEXT