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Monument record MDR2801 - Iron Age settlement, Harborough Rocks, Brassington

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

Harborough Rocks Iron Age Settlement. Excavated in 1889 by J Ward and C Gregory, who found a 'wide distribution of potsherds along the side of the hill' and concluded that there had been a 'small village' on the site. Most of the village remains came from a broad terrace between belts of rock. Trenches in the terrace produced evidence of dark soil, with finds including potsherds, broken animal bone, fragments of charcoal, burnt dunstone and sandstone, a slag-like substance and several broken whetstones. Ward notes that all those to whom he showed the finds considered them to be Iron Age, although he appears to incline towards them being Romano-British. (1) Some of the material from the settlement site near Harborough Cave is in Derby Museum. The settlement pottery seems early in the Early Iron Age 'A' series. (2) The site was on a grassy slope west of the farm at the foot of Harborough Rocks near Harborough Cave. The slope formed the floor of a natural passage leading up to the broadest terrace on the south-west side of Harborough Rocks. Most of the remains came from this terrace. There is no visual evidence of this settlement. It is sited in a position of some natural strength on an elevated terrace approximately 200m long and 50m wide, now covered by rough pasture and rock outcrop. (3) Authority 2 correct. (4) An Iron Age rim sherd was found in a rabbit scrape below Harborough Cave in circa 1968, the first recorded find from the area for many years. Ward's excavation had yielded 45-50 vessels of the Early Iron Age, some of which were finger-tip decorated jars of large size, while some had gracefully everted rims and distinct shoulders and carinations but lacked decoration. Two broken toggles or handle cross-pieces were also found by Ward. (5) Fifteen trenches were dug by J May and P Strange in spring 1975 below and at the level of the cave mouth with the object of locating Ward's deposits. No structures or any substantial evidence of occupation was found. (6, 7) Listed by Challis and Harding as an Iron Age Open Settlement. (8) Harborough Rocks is an impressive limestone outcrop rising in three terraces and overlooking Brassington Common and Carsington Reservoir. Much of the recent archaeological material has come from the middle terrace, with a smaller amount from the edge of the lower terrace, close to the excavations undertaken by Ward in 1889. Since 1990, further fieldwork has recovered additional archaeological material in the form of Late Bronza Age and Early Iron Age pottery shgerds, Romano-British pottery (mainly Derbyshire and Grey wares), flint, a jet or shale 'V' perforated button, a bone handle and animal bones. All this material came from eroded areas around the rocks or from the old spoil heaps in front of Harborough Cave. (9)

Sources/Archives (9)

  • <1> Article in serial: Ward, J. 1890. 'On some diggings near Brassington, Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 12, pp 108-138. P108, 118.
  • <2> Article in serial: Brailsford, J. 1957. 'Later prehistoric cave-dwellings of Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 77, pp 54-56. p56.
  • <3> Personal Observation: F1 RWE 15-NOV-62.
  • <4> Personal Observation: F2 BHS 14-APR-66.
  • <5> Article in serial: Radley, J & Radford, F. 1969. 'Iron Age pottery from Brassington Common', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 89, pp 121-122.
  • <6> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index: 0424.
  • <7> Correspondence: May, J. 1977. Letter regarding trenches excavated at Harborough Rocks 4th January, 1977. Letter.
  • <8> Monograph: Challis, A & Harding, W. 1975. 'Later Prehistory from the Trent to the Tyne', British Archaeological Report 20. Part 2.
  • <9> Article in serial: Makepeace, G. 2004. 'Harborough Rocks- Early Iron Age settlement, near Brassington, Derbyshire. Second Report', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal.



Grid reference Centred SK 2426 5522 (10m by 10m) (Centre)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • EDR1076
  • EDR1113

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Record last edited

Sep 19 2016 11:44AM

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