Palisaded hilltop enclosure 230m SSE of Dirt Low


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020306

Date first listed: 11-Dec-2001


Ordnance survey map of Palisaded hilltop enclosure 230m SSE of Dirt Low
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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: Castleton

National Park: PEAK DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: SK 15611 82072


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

Reasons for Designation

A palisaded hilltop enclosure is a small defended site of domestic function dating to the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age (c.550-440 BC). Their distribution is largely restricted to north-eastern England, the Borders and southern Scotland. They are generally located on spurs, promontories or hilltops covering areas of less than 0.4ha. The boundaries of these sites are marked by single or double rock-cut trenches which originally formed the settings for substantial palisades. Remains of circular buildings are found within the palisaded areas, along with evidence for fenced stock enclosures. Palisaded sites are the earliest type of defended settlements recorded in the area and are thought to be a product of increasingly unsettled social conditions in the later prehistoric period. They imply an extensive use of timber, confirmation that large areas were heavily wooded at this time. Although the palisades at individual sites may have undergone several phases of replacement or refurbishment it is thought that the tradition of building this type of site spanned only around 150 years. After this the use of earthen banks and ditches to form the defensive perimeter became more common. Excavation has demonstrated that at several sites the earthen defences were preceded by timber palisades. Palisaded enclosures are a rare monument type with fewer than 200 known examples. They are an important element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern and are important for any study of the developing use of defended settlements during the later prehistoric period. All identified surviving examples are believed to be nationally important.

The enclosure 230m SSE of Dirt Low is important as one of only a handful of suviving palisaded hilltop enclosures in the Peak District. Such enclosures are thought to have been much more common than is represented by surviving examples, the few known enclosures all being located on marginal land that has never been ploughed. The monument therefore forms part of a small but particularly important resource for the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age of this region, providing important information about settlement and agriculture during the period. The enclosure survives in good condition with the remains of the bank clearly visible. There is excellent potential for further undisturbed remains beneath the ground surface.


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


The monument includes a palisaded hilltop enclosure situated in an area of upland pasture. The enclosure dates to the late Bronze Age or early Iron Age and provides evidence for settlement and agricultural practices.

The monument occupies a gently sloping shelf bordered to the east and south by the steep-sided gully of Pin Dale and overlooked by higher ground to the west. The enclosure is defined by a stony bank measuring between 2m and 3m in width. The enclosure bank forms a slightly irregular oval containing an area measuring 50m by 60m at its greatest extents. The bank is clearly visible, incorporating a large number of substantial quartz-rock boulders (measuring up to 1.5m in diameter). A break in the north side of the enclosure bank is indicative of an entrance. A larger break measuring approximately 4m across exists in the centre of the south side of the enclosure, this is also characteristic of an entrance. Along its and eastern and north eastern sides, parts of the enclosure bank appear to have been constructed by enhancing natural rock outcrops. Further rock outcrops are visible within the northern and western confines of the enclosure. No features have been identified within the enclosure, although a detailed metrical or geophysical survey may reveal hitherto unidentified occupation remains.

The monument is comparable with several other enclosures found on the limestone plateau, most of which are situated on similar false crest or plateau locations. It is associated with a similar, larger enclosure some 600m to the south west, which has been severely damaged as a result of lead mining and a modern road diversion.

The form and location of the Pin Dale enclosure indicates that it was used for corralling stock and may also have comprised a small settlement site. The enclosure bank is thought to have been more substantial during its period of use, soil erosion having exposed the stone footings presently visible. The enclosure bank is also thought to have provided a setting for a timber palisade for enclosing stock and protecting them from wild animals.

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: 31306

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Barnatt, JW, Aston Hall - Land at Castleton Derbyshire, Archaeological Survey, (1992), 2,3
Hart, CR, North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey, (1984), 77
Bevan, W J, 'Illustrations' in DAAC Romano-British Settlement Survey, (2000), ill# 30
Sketch plan from PDNPA archive, Butcher, L, Palisaded enclosures: Pindale, (1981)

End of official listing