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Site record MDR11186 - Route of 'The Portway' (conjectural route of), Derbyshire

Type and Period (1)

  • (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

The possible route of the Portway is suggested by various pieces of evidence: three places in Derbyshire are called Alport; documentary references to the name Portway are known from near Bakewell, from Sandiacre, and from near Coxbench; two old mines are called Portway. A line drawn through these points is not haphazard, but runs straight across the county. Despite being obscured by the construction of roads and other later developments, it is considered feasible to find evidence on the ground, or on old maps, which demonstrates the line of the trackway. A chain of ancient hillforts is apparently based upon the Port Way, and a pre-Roman origin for the trackway, making use of natural advantages, is suggested. Part was probably re-used in Roman times and down to the 18th century, with the introduction of some short cuts up steep gradients or across streams which were avoided by the old road. (1) Consideration is given to the four theories advanced for the meaning of the name 'Port': a Saxon name for a town; a place of shelter; an ancient British name for a military way; a Norman name for a road. (2) A branch of the Portway is suggested running from south of Grangemill to Chapel-en-le-Frith and perhaps beyond. (3) There is place-name evidence for the trackway of unknown, but probably prehistoric, date known in early records as Portway. This name is still used over short stretches, and an attempt to link the various portions was first made by Cockerton, who has ably demonstrated its course from a point west of Bakewell to Sandiacre on the Nottinghamshire boundary, and also established its northerly continuation by way of Castlegate. References to this track, supporting Cockerton's conclusions, have been noted in several areas from the 13th century onwards. The meaning of the name is 'road leading to a town', but there is no evidence which the town is, though from its crossing of the Nottinghamshire boundary it would appear to be leading to Nottingham. Further occurrences of the name Portway indicate that an old road ran from near Derby to Uttoxeter, and the three place-name references suggest the probable line followed. Although there is no evidence for its age, it probably linked Little Chester with Uttoxeter and is pre-English. (4) A prehistoric trackway is postulated, and mapped, from an ancient ford, crossing the River Derwent near Milford (SK 351 451), via Wirksworth, Grangemill, Winster, Alport, and Ashford to Wardlow (SK 181 747). From here it is suggested that the trackway split, with one branch heading for Mam Tor (SK 128 837), and the other for Torside (SK 077 965). (5) Sections in parishes have individual records. For 'The Portway' in the following parishes, see also: Abney and Abney Grange, (SMR 27) Ashford, (SMR 468) Bradwell, (SMR 2237) Bradwell (branch off), (SMR 2239) Brough and Shatton, (SMR2621) Castleton, (SMR 3381) Edale, (SMR 5039) Foolow, (SMR 5819) Great Hucklow, (SMR 6312) Great Longstone, (SMR 6444) Haddon, (SMR 10433) Harthill, (SMR 6747) Ivonbrook Grange, (SMR 8619) Ivonbrook Grange (brach off), (SMR 8616) Tideswell, (SMR 14142) Wardlow, (SMR 14716) Winster, (SMR 15422) Youlgreave, (SMR 15767)

Sources/Archives (6)

  • --- Unpublished document: Chan, B (ARCUS). 2003. An Archaeological Watching Brief at Mill (Hyde) Bridge, Ashford-in-the-Water, Derbyshire.
  • <1> Article in serial: Cockerton, R W P. 1932. 'The Port Way. A Preliminary Note', The Derbyshire Countryside. Vol 2, No.5, pp 6-7.
  • <2> Article in serial: Cockerton, R W P. 1933. 'Portway: The Meaning of the Name', The Derbyshire Countryside. Vol. 3, pp 60-61.
  • <3> Article in serial: Cockerton, R W P. 1937?. 'A Prehistoric Trackway', The Derbyshire Countryside. Vol. 6, pp 77-78.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Cameron, K. 1959. The Place-Names of Derbyshire, Part I. English Place-Name Society, Vol. XXVII.. pp xix, 22-23.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Dodd, A & Dodd, E. 2000. Peakland Roads & Trackways, 3rd edition. pp 13-17, maps 3-4, illus..



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Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (4)

  • EDR3786
  • EDR3652
  • EDR3431
  • EDR4856

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Record last edited

Apr 2 2024 2:21PM

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