Skip to main content

Monument record MDR2260 - Town Ditch, Castleton

Type and Period (2)

  • (Medieval to Tudor - 1196 AD to 1539 AD)
  • (Medieval to Tudor - 1196 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

The Town Ditch around Medieval Castleton, probably dating to Norman or pre-Norman period. Almost the whole of this earthwork can be traced, and it survives in places up to a maximum height of 3.2m. (1, 2, 7) The earliest mention of this Town Ditch is in an eighteenth century account by Bray: 'An entrenchment, which begins at the lower end of the valley, called the Cave, inclosed the town, ending at the great cavern, and forming a semi-circle; this is now called the Town Ditch, …….' According to Rev J. C. Cox almost the whole course of the fosse and vallum could be traced in 1905. (2) Earthwork surveyed at 1:2500. (3) On the east and south of the town there are the remains of the Town Ditch but on the west and north this function was performed by the Mill Race. (4) Traces of a ditch on the south and east sides of the town may be connected with the foundation of the borough in 1196. There is no documentary evidence. (5) 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 The first historical reference to the town defences was in the 18th century when it is recorded that an `entrenchment', which began in the lower end of the valley, enclosed the town, forming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 acquired 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. (9)

Sources/Archives (9)

  • <1> Article in serial: Cox, J C. 1905. The Athenaeum. No. 4052.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Cox, J. 1905. 'Ancient Earthworks', The Victoria County History, Derbyshire, Volume 1. p 384. pp 379-380.
  • <3> Personal Observation: F1 BHS 15-SEP-65.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Beresford, M. 1967. New Towns of the Middle Ages. pp 416-417.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Turner, H L. 1971. Town Defences in England & Wales. p 18.
  • <6> Index: NDAT. 0593.
  • <7> Scheduling record: English Heritage. Scheduling Notification. 29937. Cat. No.: 442.
  • <9> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Black and white photograph collection. 496.15A-16A.
  • <9> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Slide Collection. 3324.1-12.



Grid reference Centred SK 1507 8289 (299m by 275m) (Linear)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (0)

Record last edited

Jan 11 2016 3:58PM

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.