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Site record MDR351 - Boundary earthwork, Ashbourne Road, Buxton

Type and Period (2)

  • (Former Type) ? (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

There is a continuous agger visible at SK 0664 7195, opposite the cemetery. A section was dug prior to its destruction, prior to the building of the adjacent estate. The section revealed a large road that was 50 ft wide and of two phases. There is an extension to the east with curb stones. (1) There is little trace of the feature at SK 0675 7180, where a farm track crosses the line. (2) The Roman road was uncovered in about 1908 at about SK 068 717. The surface was covered with vertically set limestone blocks, many disturbed and on their sides. The road at this point can be seen as a good agger across two fields becoming a terrace in the next two southerly fields. (3) At SK 0702 7140 there is a little trace wall built in to the lower edge of the earthwork. (4) At SK 0720 7125, there is a well-defined shelf with a smooth transition in to the hillside uphill. The lower edge is clear. (5) There is a later track cut in to the line of the supposed Roman road at SK 0737 7103. There was no clear trace recorded here in 1978. (6) At SK 0766 7069, the line of the supposed Roman road is affected by many quarries at first, and then disappears below low marshy ground. (7) A 10 metre stretch of the linear earthwork at the eastern foot of Harpur Hill, at SK 0700 7145, was excavated in 1991. The earthwork runs north-west / south-east, roughly parallel to a straight stretch of the A515 Buxton-Ashbourne road, which has occupied its present line since at least 1749. The earthwork is visible for a distance of about 1.2 kilometres, running virtually straight from a small plantation opposite Buxton Cemetery (SK 0667 7185) to Heathfield Nook (SK 0745 7093). This earthwork has frequently been interpreted as a stretch of the agger of a Roman road [SMR 99030]. However, the excavation that took place in 1991 has revealed no trace of metalling of any date, and the earthwork now seems more likely to be a major land boundary, built before the 17th century, and used for long enough for its ditch to fill and be recut. Continuous colluviation against the uphill banks of these ditches had led to the build-up of material forming a lynchet-like feature. The ditches themselves were undated, but preliminary study of documentary sources suggests a post-Roman, probably medieval date. They form the boundary between the parishes of Hartington Upper Quarter and King Sterndale, and the liberty of Hartington and the manor of Buxton. An early 17th century map in the Chatsworth Collection shows the line as forming an estate boundary. An origin in the medieval period, as a boundary marked by earthworks, for which there are ample local parallels, seems likely. Subsequently, geophysical survey and further excavation between the earthworks and the A515 failed to locate any trace of a Roman road. See sources for more details. (9, 10) Four trenches were excavated at a site at SK 0681 7136. No evidence for the Roman road or any other archaeology was found. This raises the possibility that the line of the Roman road may have conformed to the line of the modern A515, Ashbourne Road, which runs along the eastern boundary of the site. (11) No trace of a Roman road found during an evaluation in 2017, when a further 4 trenches were dug, only what seemed to be a series of boundary ditches, banks and walls. (12) Tin 2018 fieldwork identified 5 parallel features: 4 ditches and a drystone wall. So the earthwork almost certainly indicates a former boundary. None of the features yielded datable artefacts, but Optical Stimulated Luminescence (OLS) dating of the soil indicated that the earliest ditch was opened in the C11th-C12th and filled-in in C13th. Another ditch dated to the C15th, whilst the drystone wall was post-medieval. (13)

Sources/Archives (13)

  • <1> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index: 2389. 2389.
  • <2> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index: 3134. 3134.
  • <3> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index: 2250. 2250.
  • <4> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust: 3135. 3135.
  • <5> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index: 3136. 3136.
  • <6> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). 1978. North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index: 3137. 3137.
  • <7> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index: 3138. 3138.
  • <8> Personal Observation: Wroe, P. Observations regarding a bank on Ashbourne Road, Buxton.
  • <9> Article in serial: Guilbert, G & Challis, K (TPAT). 1993. 'Excavations across the supposed line of 'The Street' Roman Road, south east of Buxton, 1991', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol 113, pp 45-59.
  • <10> Unpublished document: Trent & Peak Archaeological Trust (TPAT). 1992. Recent Work of the Trust, 1990-1992. HER Doc No. 1093.
  • <11> Unpublished document: Parker, A (OAN). 2014. Foxlow Farm, Buxton, Derbyshire: Archaeological Evaluation Report.
  • <12> Unpublished document: Taylor, G and R Hilton (Pre Construct Archaeology). 2017. Land at Foxlow Farm, Harpur Hill, Buxton, Derbyshire: Report on an Archaeological Evaluation.
  • <13> Unpublished document: Failes, A (Pre-Construct Archaeology). 2019. Land at Foxlow Farm, Buxton, Derbyshire: Report on an Archaeological Strip, Map and Record Investigation.



Grid reference Centred SK 0706 7140 (799m by 940m) (Linear)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (3)

  • EDR4980
  • EDR3998
  • EDR4986

Please contact the HER for details.

External Links (0)

Record last edited

Apr 29 2021 2:30PM

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