SK 1680 8182 - SK 1829 8121: Bradwell, Grey Ditch: Grey Ditch. (1)
Grey Ditch may have been the frontier of a Romano-British enclave in the 5th or even 6th century A.D. or it may have been occasioned by strife between later Anglian settlers. The ditch is always to the north of the bank. A previously unrecorded portion is noted west of Mich Low. [SK 16808182]. (2)
Sections have been uncovered in a housing site at Bradwell. (3)
SK16758182 - SK16928185, SK17108180 - SK17328171, SK17558161 - SK17938192 and SK18168127 - SK18328121. The monument includes the linear embankment and adjacent ditch known as The Grey Ditch which is interpreted as an early medieval boundary marker. It forms composite earthwork oriented west-north-west to east-south-east surviving as four distinct sections which, together, form a demarcation line or barrier across the valley of the Bradwell Brook.
The earthwork in the western section is approximately 150m long and forms a distinct lynchet to the edge of a field, about 1.7m high on the north side, but rising only approximately 0.7m on the south side. To the immediate north is a track, known as Michlow Lane, which may be located in the remains of the ditch, now resembling a slight hollow way.
To the east of Mich Low the earthwork resumes as a lynchet with a trackway running along the former embankment. To the north is a shallow ditch of varying depth to a maximum of about 0.7m. Close to the western end of this section, an excavation during the 1990s revealed that much of the linear earthwork survives in good condition below ground. Ceramic finds from this excavation enabled the earthwork to be dated to the post Roman period. At the eastern end of this section is the road between Bradwell and Brough-on-Noe which follows the line of Batham Gate, the Roman road to Buxton from the fort at Navio, located less than 1km to the north.
The most easterly of the four sections of earthwork is the best preserved where it demarks or defends the top of a ridge to the north of Rebellion Knoll. Here the bank and ditch are 170m long with both ends appearing to be original terminals. The earthwork also defends or forms a line of demarcation across Batham Gate. Several similar earthworks, often called `dykes', are also found in south western Yorkshire. These are believed to have been built by native populations to curb the westerly advance of Anglo-Saxons, during the 5th-7th centuries, or formed a demarcation between the kingdoms of Northumbria and Mercia during the 7th century or later. It is also possible that the Grey Ditch formed a defendable demarcation during the Viking period when Hope came under the control of the English during the early tenth century prior to the submission of the north. (4)
This earthwork is best preserved at its eastern extremity. Here the bank reaches a max. height of 2.5m. With a ditch on its north side well defined to a depth of 1.2m. Elsewhere the height averages 1.6m. With depth of ditch 0.8m. Between SK 17338172 and SK 17148179 and at SK 17658170 the ditch is just faintly discernable as an unsurveyable depression. The published survey of the whole feature (25" 1921) is to be amended by the field surveyor. It appears likely that the terminals of the earthwork at SK 18178128 and SK 17938143 are original. Between these points the ground rises steeply, thus obviating the necessity for a barrier earthwork. The same situation also applies where the bank ends on the east side of Mich Low. The bank and ditch where traceable, are sited on reasonably level ground, and in two cases are at right angles to the line of old tracks, i.e. the Roman Road of Batham Gate, and hollow ways at SK 18308122. It seems likely therefore that the assumption by O'Neil that the earthwork is of a barrier type is correct. (5)
Published survey (25") revised and resurveyed. (6)
A section was cut through the best preserved sector of Grey Ditch on the ridge to the east of Bradwell Dale. This showed that the rampart consisted simply of upcast from the ditch. There were possible traces of a rough stone revetment at front and rear, but there was no berm. At the highest point on the ridge is a gap in the rampart and ditch suggestive of an ancient gateway, but excavation revealed no sign of timberwork or additional protection. No dating evidence was found, but from the relationship to the Roman road the Ditch is likely to be post-Roman. (7)
A linear earthwork consisting of a bank up to 2.5m (8ft) high, 6m (21ft) wide and a V-shaped ditch, 2m (6ft) deep and 6m (21ft) wide, on the north side. There is a possible entrance though the easternmost section. The structure dates to the Anglian period. The earthwork comprises four sections, with the intervening areas, being sufficiently rough and uneven to constitute natural barriers to passage. (8)