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Scheduled Monument record MDR612 - Roman Fortlet East of Highstones Tintwistle

Type and Period (1)

  • (Roman - 43 AD? to 409 AD?)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Roman Fortlet east of Highstones Tintwistle. Centred at SK 0643 9901 on a gently sloping south facing grass covered hillspur are the well preserved remains of a rectangular earthwork with rounded corners. It measures about 67m north west to southeast by 54m transversely between the centres of the ditch which averages about 8.0m wide and varies from 0.5m to 1.5m maximum depth. There is a less-well defined causeway entrance about 5.5m wide midway in the southeast downhill side. There is no trace of an inner rampart but there appears to have been a counterscarp bank along the southwest side (its southern end and part of the ditch have been mutilated by quarrying and an access trackway). Apart from this slight outer bank there is no other trace of the material that must have come from the ditch. There is no trace of any stonework and the sloping interior is featureless. The earthwork is not in a strong defensive situation but it has clear views along Longdendale to the east and west. Its exact purpose and period are uncertain. Though there is no stonework visible or evidence of huts, its form is suggestive of a native settlement with possible Roman influence, but the ditch is remarkably well preserved. Discovered during field investigation, 27/06/78. Surveyed at 1:10 000. (1) Listed as a possible Roman fortlet; a fragment of quern stone of 'possible Roman date' was found incorporated into the 'enclosure' field walls which divide the site. (2-3) The earthworks, and other features in the surrounding area, were part of a topographic survey carried out between 1986 - 1989. The survey produced a detailed contour plan of the earthworks and noted a resistivity survey was also carried out in its interior, but that the results of the latter had not yet been analysed by 1989. (4) The site was visited in 2015 as part of on-going Scheduled Monument monitoring. A feeding trough was positioned in the centre of the monument; and stones had been used to make a rough low level wall. (5) From the National Heritage List for England: 'Reasons for Designation Roman fortlets are small rectangular enclosures with rounded corners defined by a fortified rampart of turf and earth with one or more outer ditches. The ramparts were originally revetted at the front and rear by timber uprights in shallow trenches and were almost certainly crowned with timber wall walks and parapets. Fortlets were constructed from the first century AD to at least the later fourth century AD to provide accommodation for a small detachment of troops generally deployed on a temporary basis of between one to two years and supplied by a fort in the same area. The function of fortlets varies from place to place; some were positioned to guard river crossings or roads, particularly at vulnerable points such as crossroads, whilst others acted as supply bases for signal towers. Roman fortlets are rare nationally with approximately 50 examples known in Britain, half of which are located in Scotland. As such, and as one of a small group of Roman military monuments which are important in representing army strategy and therefore government policy, fortlets are of particular significance to our understanding of the period and all surviving examples are considered nationally important. The Roman fortlet 320m east of Highstones is a particularly rare and well preserved example of this type of monument in Derbyshire. The small scale quarrying of sections of the rampart and platform does not detract from the importance of the site or the archaeological potential of the monument. Deposits in the base of the ditch, the makeup of the rampart, the buried land surface beneath the rampart and any sub-surface features will preserve important artefactual and ecofactual material. Such material is important to the understanding of the construction and use of the fortlet as well as the impact of the Roman occupation on the wider landscape. Details The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of Highstones Roman fortlet. The monument is situated at approximately 250m above sea level on a gentle, south facing slope to the north of Torside Reservoir. The site commands extensive views for at least five miles east and west along Longdendale and would have been ideal for controlling the southern exit of Crowden Brook Valley. The monument survives as a sub-rectangular enclosure with rounded corners, a shape which is characteristic of Roman fortification construction. The enclosure measures approximately 48m by 52m and is surrounded by a rampart and external ditch with a low bank running along the outer edge of the ditch on the western side. The ditch is V-shaped in profile and measures between 6m and 10m wide. The rampart also measures about 10m wide but is only clearly evident on the north and west edges of the enclosed platform. Irregular earthworks in the north east and south west corners of the platform suggest that later, small scale quarrying may have removed sections of the rampart. A causewayed entrance is visible mid-way along the southern side of the monument but the details of this have been distorted by a dry stone wall which has been built across the monument from east to west. A second wall bisects the monument from north to south. Neither wall respects the earthwork and it is possible that some stone used in their construction was obtained from the small quarry scars on the internal surface of the platform and rampart. A fragment of quern stone thought to be of Roman date was found incorporated in the stone walls. All modern gates and dry stone walls are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them is included.' (6)

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Personal Observation: F1 ISS 27-JUN-78.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Hart, C (NDAT). 1981. The North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey to AD 1500. 90.
  • <3> Index: NDAT. NDAT 3871.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Ellison, P et al. 1989. Longdendale Survey Highstones Area, 1989.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Groves, R (PDNPA Volunteer Ranger). 2015. Roman Fortlet 320m east of Highstones: Scheduled Monument Monitoring Form.
  • <6> Listed Building File: Historic England. 2011. The National Heritage List for England.



Grid reference Centred SK 0642 9901 (98m by 94m) (Centre)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (3)

  • EDR1439
  • EDR4159
  • EDR5005

Please contact the HER for details.

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Record last edited

Sep 1 2020 6:57PM

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