Markland Grips promontory fort


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011428

Date first listed: 02-Oct-1936

Date of most recent amendment: 04-Feb-1994


Ordnance survey map of Markland Grips promontory fort
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Derbyshire

District: Bolsover (District Authority)

Parish: Elmton

National Grid Reference: SK 50908 75043, SK 51087 75176


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.

Although the interior and part of the defences of Markland Grips promontory fort have been disturbed by ploughing, the monument survives reasonably well and is a good example of an Iron Age settlement site that was reoccupied during the Roman period.


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


The monument is divided into two separate areas and is a promontory fort occupying a magnesian limestone spur at the fork of two gorges known as Markland Grips and Hollinhill Grips. The fort includes a tongue-shaped interior, with an area of c.4ha, bounded on the west side by a series of parallel ramparts and ditches and, on the remaining three sides, by the steep cliff edges of the spur. Near their south end, the ramparts have been cut through by a 19th century railway line which has now been dismantled. South of this, the terminals of all three ramparts are visible as earthworks projecting into the adjacent field. On the north side, only the inner rampart survives as an upstanding feature, roughly bisected by a 10m wide entrance. It measures c.3m high and is c.15m wide at the base and c.8m wide at the top. A 15m wide ditch is visible along the west side, south of the entrance. The remaining two ramparts and the intervening ditches, known to have been visible in 1905, survive as buried features in the ploughed field west of the promontory. Both the plan of the earthworks drawn in 1905 and the results of fieldwalking carried out after ploughing in 1969 show that the outer and middle ramparts were joined together by an additional bank north of the central entrance and that the inner and middle ramparts were similarly joined south of the entrance. This indicates that the entrance is contemporary with one of the occupation phases of the fort and is not a modern creation. A separate earthwork within the entrance, at the end of the middle rampart, marks the site of a gatehouse. A further entrance existed at the north-west corner of the fort where partial excavations, carried out by H C Lane and others in 1969, located fragments of Central Gaulish samian pottery dating to the Roman period. A section of the inner rampart was also excavated in 1969 and showed the rampart to be of dump construction, comprising a clay and gravel core with flat limestone slabs laid horizontally into the face of the core. Other small-scale excavations were carried out in the interior of the fort and provided evidence of two occupation phases. The earlier phase was identified from sherds of fine Iron Age pottery while the later phase was associated with coarse Romano-British pottery of the second or third century AD. Evidence of boneworking and metalworking was also found but not in association with datable artefacts. In 1883, the Reverend J H Gray records that silver Roman coins of approximately the same date as the Romano-British pottery were found at the fort.

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: 23311

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Gray, Reverend J H , Bolsover Castle, (1883)
Challis, A J, Harding, D, 'BAR 20, Part 2' in Later Prehistory from the Trent to the Tyne, (1975)
Lane, H C, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Markland Grips Iron Age Promontory Fort: An Interim Report, , Vol. 89, (1969)
Preston, F L, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in The Hill-Forts of the Peak, , Vol. 74, (1954)

End of official listing