Romano-British occupation in Brimington

Romano-British occupation? Looking west from North Moor View, off Manor Road, in October 2009. The areas to the right and left of the footpath are to be developed for housing. Trial trenching has found evidence of Romano-British occupation. Now the site is to be further investigated.

As some people may have read, trial archaeological excavations, in advance of a housing development off Chesterfield Road and North Moor View, have discovered some evidence of Romano-British occupation. We don’t think that evidence like this has hereto been found in the parish, though, of course, there is the age-old debate as to where the Roman route of the so-called Ryknield street runs and reports of some finds in Tapton – but many years ago.

Thankfully, planning legislation means that investigations of this type now take place. A much larger excavation will be held on the land – which is bounded by Chesterfield Road, Cotterhill Lane/Top Pingle Close and North Moor View.

We have summarised this important find in our brief history of Brimington section :

A field in the Chesterfield Road/Cotterhill Lane/North Moor View area, possibly partly within the medieval core of the village, has recently been found to contain evidence of Romano-British occupation. Iron slag was also found – probably the product of medieval iron smelting. In 2019 archaeological trial trenches, as part of a housing development planning application, identified modest but definite evidence for occupation. A much fuller excavation is now planned for 2021, in advance of building. This will be able to more fully explore the possible occupation of a hilltop site in the Roman period in the village, along with middle age exploitation of ironstone for smelting.

The value of on-line planning portals in these sorts of matters should not be underestimated. You can read the full reports so far published (on the trials and the plan for the more extensive excavations) by visiting the Borough Council’s planning portal and performing a search. It’s a little complicated, but head to Simple Search (chesterfield.gov.uk). In the ‘Enter a keywordreference numberpostcode or single line of an address‘ box, type in the application reference CHE/20/00869/REM. Click the search button. Scroll down the opened page until you reach ‘There are 110 documents associated with this application’. (Note: by the time you read this more documents may have been added, so the amount may display a different figure) Click on the hyperlinked ‘110 documents’ and look for ‘WRITTEN SCHEME OF INVESTIGATION (ARCHAEOLOGY) – LAND TO THE WEST OF NORTHMOOR VI’ near the bottom of the page. You will then be able to open this report as pdf.

You may want to try a similar method to look at the trial trenches report, using the planning reference CHE/18/00532/OUT instead. This time look for the report called: BRIMINGTON ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVALUATION REPORT, which was loaded on 15 January 2019.

Finally, an extract from Chesterfield Civic Society‘s comments on the CHE/20/00869/REM application, which deals with the historical background.

(1) the nature and extent of Romano-British settlement on or near the site of the later village of Brimington. Traditionally it was believed that the Coal Measures of north-east Derbyshire were only thinly settled in this period, compared with the lighter limestone soil further east, around Bolsover. The discovery a few years ago at Derby Road, Wingerworth, of quite an extensive Romano-British farmstead on the Coal Measures showed that this view needs revising. Excavation at Brimington will assist in this process and may uncover another example of a farmstead on heavy clay soil.
(2) the nature and extent of ironmaking on the site, revealed by the slag found in the trial excavations. It is clear from surface discoveries of slag in many places in north-east Derbyshire that easily worked ironstone was smelted in probably both the Roman period and the Middle Ages, in bloomery furnaces using natural draught (rather than water power). These were mostly built on south-west facing slopes to benefit from the prevailing winds. The Northmoor site fits this model. It would be useful to discover more slag, ideally in association with pottery which would make it possible to establish whether the ironsmelting was Roman or medieval. This again is an opportunity to test a hypothesis: how extensive was ironsmelting on the North Derbyshire coalfield before the introduction of the blast furnace in the late 16th century. Previously the only smelting site known in Brimington was the short-lived furnace of the 1850s on Brimington Common, of which the name Furnace Lane is the only reminder.

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