Promontory fort on Combs Edge


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009294

Date first listed: 15-Oct-1936

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Dec-1994


Ordnance survey map of Promontory fort on Combs Edge
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Derbyshire

District: High Peak (District Authority)

Parish: Chapel-en-le-Frith

National Park: PEAK DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: SK 05364 78410


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Promontory forts are a type of hillfort in which conspicuous naturally defended sites are adapted as enclosures by the construction of one or more earth or stone ramparts placed across the neck of a spur in order to divide it from the surrounding land. Coastal situations, using headlands defined by steep natural cliffs, are common while inland similar topographic settings defined by natural cliffs are also used. The ramparts and accompanying ditches formed the main artificial defence, but timber palisades may have been erected along the cliff edges. Access to the interior was generally provided by an entrance through the ramparts. The interior of the fort was used intensively for settlement and related activities, and evidence for timber- and stone- walled round houses can be expected, together with the remains of buildings used for storage and enclosures for animals. Promontory forts are generally Iron Age in date, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are broadly contemporary with other types of hillfort. They are regarded as settlements of high status, probably occupied on a permanent basis, and recent interpretations suggest that their construction and choice of location had as much to do with display as defence. Promontory forts are rare nationally with less than 100 recorded examples. In view of their rarity and their importance in the understanding of the nature of social organisation in the later prehistoric period, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are considered nationally important.

The promontory fort on Combs Edge is very well preserved having apparently suffered very little disturbance since it was abandoned. The possibility of a post-medieval use for the fort is also of interest.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument, sometimes known as Castle Naze, is an Iron Age promontory fort, possibly of more than one construction phase, occupying a triangular spur of Combs Edge in the western gritstone moorlands of the Derbyshire Peak District. The remains comprise a three sided enclosure bounded on the north and west sides by vertical rock faces and, on the south east side, by a double line of earthwork defences. The enclosure has an area of c.1.28ha and retains buried remains throughout of such features as workshops, hearths, storage pits and the postholes and foundations of buildings. The defences comprise an inner and an outer rampart and an outer ditch from which the material for the outer rampart would have been obtained. Between the ramparts is a wide space which, today, appears level but which probably represents the construction ditch for the inner rampart. South of the north west corner of the fort is a group of stone extraction pits and traces of a track which drops over the cliff edge. These features probably relate to the 19th century enclosure of the intake round the edges of Combs Moss. The outer ditch of the defences averages 8m wide and is filled in by silt to a depth of c.1m. The rampart flanking it varies between 2m in the north to 4m in the south. On the side facing into the gap between the ramparts it is between 2m and 3m high. The inner rampart rises 2m above the gap and between 2m and 3m above the interior of the fort. The gap itself varies between 10m and 15m wide and is thought possibly to have been a shallow ditch because it has a distinct terminus at its north east end. Both ramparts are steep, their sides sloping at about 60 degrees, and each is c.10m wide at the base, narrowing to c.3m. At their south west end the earthworks extend to the cliff edge while, at their north east end, they terminate short of the cliff edge at a causeway. This causeway extends north eastward out of the area of the scheduling for c.100m and represents the original entrance into the fort. The deep hollow way which approaches it from the north west possibly also had its origins at this time but the engineered feature visible today is a much later creation, being a late medieval or post-medieval packhorse route. The overall length of the earthworks is c.160m, but they are pierced near the centre by a second entrance which can be seen to postdate the earthworks by the way in which it cuts deep into the build-up of deposits in the gap between the ramparts. This later entrance appears to relate to the packhorse route and it is possible that the fort had some associated function for the carriers who used the route through it. No excavation of the fort has been carried out but Romano-British pottery and an early 4th century coin of the Emperor Constantine I were found on the surface in 1873 and, in 1957, a survey of the fort was carried out which reported that exposed portions of the ramparts showed the innermost to be of rubble construction while the outermost was revetted by a drystone wall. This suggests that the outer rampart and ditch were a later construction though still of Iron Age date. The modern field wall, fencing and stile around the edge of the fort are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 23365

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Cox, JC, The Victoria History of the County of Derbyshire, (1905), 256
Thomas, N, Guide to Prehistoric England, (1960), 72
Challis, A J, Harding, D, 'BAR 20, Part 2' in Later Prehistory from the Trent to the Tyne, (1975), 47
Preston, F L, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in The Hill-Forts of the Peak, , Vol. 74, (1954), 9
Ramm, H G, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in A Survey of the Combs Moss Hillfort, , Vol. 77, (1957), 49-53

End of official listing