Bolsover Town Defences

Has been described as a Possible Urban Defence

There are earthwork remains

NameBolsover Town Defences
Alternative Names
Historic CountryDerbyshire
Modern AuthorityDerbyshire
1974 AuthorityDerbyshire
Civil ParishOld Bolsover

Linear bank and ditches of uncertain date or function surviving as earthworks. (PastScape)

Bolsover was a deliberately planned and fortified town and closely followed the establishment of Bolsover Castle in C11. A market charter was confirmed in 1225-6 and the grid of streets, lanes and tenement boundaries are still visible in the town plan although the former rectangular market place is now reduced to a triangular area. The subsequent phase of the town's development lies to the north of the original core taking the form of long burage plots possibly derived from original open-field strips. The 'early earthwork' on the line of Horncroft Road was visible prior to recent road widening as a V-shaped ditch of narrow profile with an earth rampart and ditch extending south east from Horncroft Road has been wrongly called 'Jacobean' by previous writers. William Senior's map of the 1630's confirms that these works were of some antiquity; by then they were being used only as land boundaries. (PastScape ref. Hart)

The medieval town defences of Bolsover are well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. Such deposits provide important information relating to the construction and use of the town defences and will add considerably to our knowledge and understanding of the social and economic structure of the medieval community. It will also provide information on the continuity and change in the use of the monument from the medieval period to the present day.

This monument, which falls into two areas, includes the earthwork and buried remains of the medieval town defences of Bolsover situated on the north and east of the historic town. The earthworks represent the bank and ditch of the rampart which is approximately 8m in width at the base and varying between 3m and 2m in height. The 'V' shaped ditch is visible as an earthwork and varies between 6m and 7m in width and 2m to 3m in depth

Documentary sources show that the historic town of Bolsover was in existence by 1086. It was a planned, fortified town and followed the establishment of the castle in the 11th century. A market charter of 1225 to 1226 confirmed the grid of streets, lanes and tenement boundaries. The town extended to the north from the original core. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

VCH has a plan (from Downman) and suggests the ditches are pre-Conquest, although Hart seems to be suggesting they are post-Conquest. Bolsover and Peveril castles were often in the same hands and it may be that the town defences of Castleton and Bolsover are of a similar date (Castleton is tentatively dated as 1196).

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSK476703
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

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  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 157 (mention)
  • Riden, Philip and Fowkes, Dudley Vincent, 2008, Bolsover: Castle, Town and Colliery (Chichester: Phillimore)
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 24, 93, 267
  • Bond, C.J., 1987, 'Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Defences' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 92-116 online copy
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 112
  • Hart, C.R., 1981, The North Derbyshire archaeological survey to AD1500 p. 139-140
  • Cox, J.C., 1905, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Derbyshire Vol. 1 p. 376-8 (plan) online copy
  • Downman, A.E., 1895, History of Bolsover p. 17-20 online copy
  • Pegge, S., 1785, Sketch of the history of Bolsover and Peak Castles in the county of Derby (London: J. Nichols for the Society of Antiquaries - Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica No. 32) p. 5


  • Creighton, Oliver, 2006, ''Castles of Communities': Medieval Town Defences in England; Wales and Gascony' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 75-86


  • Creighton, O.H., 1998, Castles and Landscapes: An Archaeological Survey of Yorkshire and the East Midlands (PhD Thesis University of Leicester) p. 218 online copy