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Monument record MDR13210 - Possible early route (Portway) through Belper parish

Type and Period (1)

  • (Roman to Medieval - 43 AD? to 1539 AD?)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

A long-distance north-south prehistoric way through Derbyshire, possibly originating in the Trent Valley, is suggested to have crossed the River Derwent near Milford, where there was an ancient ford. From the west bank rises the Chevin, a corruption of a Celtic word meaning ridge. Prehistoric traders would wish to rise clear of the swampy and densely forested valley bottom as quickly as possible; their trackway climbed from the ford through fields behind Moscow Farm and so over the Chevin, before descending to Blackbrook. From there the route was by Longwalls Lane, straight up the opposite hillside; it must then have veered more to the north-west to pass behind or near Alport Hill. It has also 'long been considered' that Longwalls Lane was in use in Roman times; there was a 'Street Close' at Blackbrook, and the lane may have formed part of a branch road from The Street to the Roman kilns at Hazelwood. (1) Following the discovery of a line of gritstone 'kerb stones' during the cleaning of a ditch near Starbuck House on the east side of Longwalls Lane in 2007, 1m test pits were excavated across the two verges of the lane, and later a narrow 0.5m trench was dug between the two, in order to record the full section. A 3.75m wide coach road was found to survive beneath modern debris and Victorian reinstatement. It was probably built in c. 1756 as part of the route from Duffield to Wirksworth via Hazelwood, and intended to improve an existing narrow single carriageway which superseded an earlier packhorse way. The coach road may never have been completed north of Starbuck House as, shortly after its commencement, alternative roads on better routes were being developed by rival turnpike companies (for example along what is now Dalley Lane, using an easier route). Only one small 17th/18th century pot fragment was found below the 19th century road but it is reasonable to assume that the carriageway was in use from the 17th century. The underlying unmetalled packhorse way would have been used during the medieval period and possibly earlier. Evidence for Romano-British activity came in the form of 150 pottery sherds (mostly Derbyshire ware) and several mortarium rim sherds. A flat spread of five smooth, worn gritstone slabs was found in the verge on the west side of the lane, with fragments of Roman pot being recovered from a context lying between and underneath the slabs. The area uncovered was too small to assess its function. (2)

Sources/Archives (2)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Dodd, A & Dodd, E. 2000. Peakland Roads & Trackways, 3rd edition. p 14, p 27.
  • <2> Article in serial: Palfreyman, A & Ebbins, S. 2011. 'Excavation at the Romano-British quern site on Longwalls Lane, Blackbrook, Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 131, pp 132-173.



Grid reference Centred SK 3308 4868 (349m by 1747m)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

  • EDR2941

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External Links (0)

Record last edited

Oct 12 2017 4:30PM

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