The Roman Ridge
We are pleased to inform you that the government Planning Inspector has dismissed the appeal by the developers who were refused permission by Sheffield City Council to build on the line of the Roman Ridge just below Wincobank Hillfort. 

In his Appeal Decision statement Mr Colin Ball, Inspector commented that the Roman Ridge "may be one of the most significant examples of ancient linear land division in Britain."
Read the full statement here:  DECISION.pdf      Many thanks to all for your support.

Roaming the Ridge. Take a stroll and see for yourself - some ground is uneven so strong shoes or walking boots are advisable.  This route takes you across Council land, through a residential este, across busy roads, into peaceful countryside with spectacular views and along a permissive footpath.  Click here to see your route.  Download your printable map and directions RoamingTheRidge3.pdf


For those who like the facts here is
Chapter 6 of the 2011 Wincobank Hill Desk Based Assessment
Reproduced by kind permission of Sheffield City Council
Copyright: York Archaelogical Trust for Excavation and Research Limited August 2011
For illustrations and the full text, please refer to DBA: Wincobank-Hill-Desk-Based-Assessment--PDF--3-96MB-[1].pdf

6.THE ROMAN RIDGE
The Roman Ridge is a linear earthwork, originally comprising  bank and a ditch that runs for approximately 27km from Sheffield to Mexborough, the course of which passes along the eastern slope of Wincobank Hill (May 1922,4: Cronk 2004,1).    The section that crosses the hill forms part of the "single" dyke, which runs  from Sheffield to the Blackburn Valley and consists of a single bank and ditch (Cronk 2004,3). From Kimberworth, the Ridge consists of two separate bank and ditch systems.

Ella Armitage described the Ridge as ‘a bank of loose stones and earth, about 8 feet (approximately 2.4m) high in the places where it is most perfect; the ditch is about 30ft wide (approximately 9.15m), and there is still, in places, a smaller bank on the counterscarp’ (Armitage and Montgomerie 1912, 55). These descriptions did not refer to the section of the Ridge within the study area (of the DBA), however, or to the two Scheduled sections within the wider 1km search area.

On Wincobank Hill, the Ridge’s earthen bank appears to have been constructed on top of the outcrop of Parkgate Rock sandstone that runs north-east from Grimesthorpe. The artificial bank does not appear to survive within the study area and the Ridge’s former course is represented by a section of the natural sandstone outcrop along the eastern perimeter of a former football field in the south-east part of the site.

6.1 Principal interpretations of the Ridge
Paul Ashbee’s contention that the Roman Ridge was ‘the work of one engineer at one period…planned and executed as a single entity’ (quoted in Cronk 2004, 3) cannot be demonstrated but may be supported by the similar dimensions of its bank and ditch at various locations, such as at Jenkin Road, Wincobank and at Hilltop, Kimberworth (Turnbull 1995, 3; Cronk 2004,2).  The bank was formed from the material that had been excavated from the ditch and does not appear to have been reinforced or revetted (Shakarian 2007, 5). The monument’s simple construction method may suggest that the Ridge had been constructed in haste, possibly in the face of an immediate threat such as the Roman advance into Brigantia, which followed the rebellion of Venutius, c.AD 69-71; the lack of dating evidence within the earthwork may also imply a period of short-term use (Shakarian 2007, 5).

The Roman Ridge may have been a defensive barrier or frontier as, throughout its course the ditch is located always on the side of the bank that faces the River Don (Cronk 2004, 2). Should the Ridge have been constructed as a defensive barrier it is thus likely to have been built by people who occupied the land to the north of the earthwork, with any threat expected to come from the south. In that case, the Ridge may have been constructed either by the Brigantes in the face of inter-tribal or Roman aggression; by the post-Roman Britons of Elmet against Anglo-Saxon aggression or by the Northumbrians against Mercian aggression during the early medieval period (Armitage 1897, 42; Armitage and Montgomerie 1912, 61;. Cronk 2004, 12).

The Ridge itself may not have been intended to demarcate the actual boundary of Brigantia, Elmet or Northumbria but may have been constructed along a line of defensible terrain in the vicinity of these frontiers (Cronk 2004, 12-13). However, it should be noted that at several points along the Ridge, such as Kimberworth, Birchin Bank and Mexborough, the earthwork does not appear to follow the best defensive line (Cronk 2004, 235). 

The Roman Ridge may have been a tribal or territorial boundary, constructed by the Brigantes, the Britons of the post-Roman period, the Anglo-Saxons of Deira or Northumbria, or possibly even the Anglo-Scandinavians of York. This interpretation need not require the Ridge to have demarcated a precise territorial boundary as it may instead have been designed to demonstrate the power and status of those who ruled the land beyond the frontier (Cronk 2004, 12). However, a political boundary designed for display would not necessarily account for the double dykes in the area to the north of Blackburn Brook.

Other interpretations of the Ridge’s purpose have received less support and suggestions that the earthwork formed property divisions or separated areas in which different forms of agricultural activity took place are undermined by the extent of the monument, the size of the bank and the position of the ditch (Cronk 2004, 9-12).

The Roman Ridge has not been dated definitively, although Kathleen Cronk has argued that it is unlikely to have been constructed before 1000 BC, when similar extensive dyke systems were introduced into Britain, or much later than AD 1000, as the Ridge appears to have been used to determine medieval parish boundaries such as that at Wincobank between the parishes of Ecclesfield and Sheffield (Cronk 2004, 1-2). 
.

 
6.2 The ‘Roman’ Ridge?
Samuel Mitchell argued that the Roman Ridge was constructed by the builders of Wincobank hillfort and that the two monuments were contemporary (Mitchell 1855, 68). Sidney Addy supported this interpretation, stating that ‘those who carefully examine these earthworks will not doubt that the embankment...and the camp on the top of Wincobank wood were made by the same people. They are uniform parts of one plan’ (Addy 1893, 234). There is no evidence to demonstrate this, however, and this interpretation is no longer accepted.

During the 17th century, the Ridge was thought to be a former Roman road. John Greaves marked the monument as the ‘Kemp Ditch or Camp Ditch’ on a 1692 map of his estates to the north of Jenkin Road, outside the study area. Greaves stated that the ‘Ditch’ was part of a Roman Road that followed an approximately straight alignment from Wincobank Wood to Bramham Moor, over 30 miles to the north-east (Cronk 2004, 65).

Joseph Hunter (1819, 15) maintained this interpretation during the early 19th century and suggested that the Ridge was a Roman road that ran east from Wincobank hillfort to join Ermine Street, the main Roman road that led south from York. This interpretation subsequently lost favour and the earthwork was marked ‘Supposed Roman Road’ on the 1854 Ordnance Survey map. In 1869, however, Alfred Gatty described the Ridge as ‘an embankment or raised road’ (Gatty 1869, 24). The latter phrase indicates the transition from the earthwork’s post-medieval name, ‘Camp Ditch’, to its 19th-century name, ‘The Roman Rig’, as a raised road was known as a ‘rig’ in the Sheffield dialect of that period (Addy 1888, 190).

Henry Payne and John Burland walked the course of the Ridge from the top of Wincobank Hill down to Blackburn Valley in 1876 and stated that it was ‘a recognised Roman road’ (Payne and Burland 1879, 614). Although the course of a Roman road at Doncaster, South Yorkshire, is indeed named the ‘Roman Ridge’, there is no evidence to demonstrate that the Sheffield to Mexborough Ridge marked the course of a former Roman road (Cronk 2004, 8).
 
No finds of Roman date are recorded in association with the Ridge’s course within the study area. However, a hoard of 19 1st- and 2nd-century Roman coins were found beneath a flat stone within the ditch of the Ridge in 1891, during the construction of Blackburn station at the northern base of Wincobank Hill (Addy 1893, 249; Cronk 2004, 70). Beyond the search area, a fragment of a 3rd-century hammer head mortarium rim was found at the level of the ditch’s secondary silting, at Hilltop, Kimberworth (Greene and Preston 1957, 27). These finds are not considered definitive proof that the Ridge was extant during the Roman period, however, as this material may have been deposited during a later period and an early medieval date for the Ridge’s construction remains plausible (Cronk 2004, 70).

6.3 Medieval and early post-medieval views of the Ridge
The Roman Ridge ran through Grimesthorpe, to the south of Wincobank Hill. The Viking or Anglo-Scandinavian name of this area suggests that it developed from an early medieval settlement. Ella Armitage suggested that the lack of an Anglo-Saxon or Viking name for the monument indicated that the people who settled Grimesthorpe did not construct the Ridge and did not know who did (Armitage 1897, 40-41). In that case, the Ridge is likely to be a Brigantian or Elmetian construction. However, it is possible that the earthwork did formerly possess an Anglo-Saxon or Viking name but that this has not been preserved.

John Harrison’s 1637 survey used the names ‘Winco banck’ and ‘Wincabanke’ (Ronksley 1908, 204, 209). It is not known if the ‘bank’ element relates to the outcrop of Silkstone Rock on the south slope of Wincobank Hill or the spur of Parkgate Rock on the east slope. If the latter, the bank is likely to have been the Ridge’s prominent, Scheduled section to the north of Jenkin Road, rather than the more distant and less well-preserved section within the study area, along the east slope of the hill. Harrison was not concerned with the area’s antiquities and did not record the ‘banke’ as an ancient earthwork or a supposed Roman road (Ronksley 1908, 204, 236). 

John Greaves’ 1692 plan did not depict that part of the Roman Ridge that ran along the eastern slope of Wincobank Hill, but showed the Scheduled section to the north of Jenkin Road. This part of the monument may also have been that described in John Gibson’s 1695 English translation of William Camden’s Britannia as a ‘large bank’ that ran east from ‘a high hill called Winco-bank’ (quoted in Guest 1879, 5). The preservation of this part of the monument need not imply that the earthwork also remained extant within the study area during this period, however, as the Scheduled section formed the ancient parish boundary between Ecclesfield and Sheffield and carried a formal right of way along the top of the earthwork. Landowners such as Greaves would have been unable to remove this stretch of the earthwork, while no such restrictions were in place along the eastern slope of Wincobank Hill. 

6.4 The 1788 William Fairbank draft maps
William Fairbank’s 1788 draft map of the fields between Brightside, Wincobank and Grimesthorpe (Plates 37 and 42) indicated that by this date the majority of the Roman Ridge within the study area had been removed or reduced to such an insignificant level that it was not worthy of depiction. It is not clear when this process began, although it is likely to have been undertaken in association with the improvement of fields in order to maximise agricultural production.

Fairbank’s 1788 draft map clearly depicted the Scheduled section of the Roman Ridge to the south of Jenkin Road. This is the earliest known cartographic evidence for the Ridge and was so detailed that it included hachures to indicate the slope of the embankment and a gap to allow a footpath through the trees that grew along the top of the monument. Fairbank did not label the Ridge, however, and may not have been aware of its status as a surviving part of an ancient earthwork. 

The 1788 map appears to have been a draft copy, produced in relation to intended enclosures in Brightside, and is considerably more detailed than the completed map that was issued in 1795. With the exception of the trees along its course, the extant section of the Ridge was not shown on the 1795 map, which gave no indication that it was an embankment. The presence of the Roman Ridge on the 1788 draft map appears to have gone unrecognised until the production of this report.

See Plate 37: Detail of 1788 Fairbank draft map showing the Roman Ridge

Given the clear depiction of the Scheduled section of the Ridge at this location in 1788, the absence of any depiction of the earthwork in the remainder of the fields along the eastern slope of Wincobank Hill suggests that the earthwork had been largely levelled in the areas where it was not shown. 

Samuel Mitchell was unable to locate the course of the Ridge through the Grimesthorpe area in 1855, due to a combination of agricultural land use and increasing development within Grimesthorpe village (Mitchell 1855, 69). The 1788 map suggests that the Ridge’s course had already been lost in this area prior to the late 18th century. 

Fairbank’s 1788 draft map of Grimesthorpe (Plate 38) depicted ‘Winco Knowle’, the large sandstone knoll or outcrop in the southern part of the study area, but did not show the spur of Parkgate Rock on which the Roman Ridge was constructed. A linear area of scouring on the face of the Knowle suggests that quarrying may have commenced prior to this date.
See Plate 38: 1788 Fairbank plan of Grimesthorpe

6.5 Antiquarian attempts to identify the Roman Ridge
During the 19th century, several attempts were made to trace the missing parts of the Roman Ridge between Sheffield and Wincobank by projecting its probable course between the known surviving sections. Between Wilkinson Spring at Fir Vale and Jenkin Road, Wincobank, these attempts failed due to the prevailing belief that the Ridge ran to Wincobank hillfort and so was represented by the outcrop of Silkstone Rock sandstone on the south slope of the hill.

In 1879, the geologist A.H. Green stated that ‘between Sheffield and Wincobank the sandstones overlying the Silkstone and Parkgate Coals rise up in a pair of conspicuous ridges. These natural features have been utilised for purposes of defence in early times. A camp is perched on the summit of the escarpment of the Silkstone Rock in Wincobank, and the escarpment of the Parkgate Rock has been artificially steepened and converted into the old earthwork known as the Roman Ridge’ (Green 1879, 627).

The clarity and accuracy of Green’s statement did not convince the region’s antiquarians that the Roman Ridge had followed the outcrop of Parkgate Rock sandstone on the eastern slope of Wincobank Hill. Several elements appear to have influenced their position, including a lack of awareness of Fairbank’s 1788 draft map, which showed the Ridge to the south of Jenkin Road but was unavailable publicly, and the apparent absence of the earthwork within the fields on the hill’s east slope, either on the ground or in David Martin’s 1791 engraving, due to the majority of the monument having been levelled in this area during the post-medieval period.

In addition, William Fairbank’s 1795 map gave no indication that a large embankment was present to the south of Jenkin Road and marked the course of the Ridge only to the north of the road, while the unscheduled section of the monument at the south-east of the hill remained unknown until the felling of that part of Wincobank Wood in the late 1890s. It is also possible that A.H. Green himself was unaware of the Ridge’s course on the east slope of the hill and that his reference to the Parkgate outcrop related only to the latter’s extensive remains to the north of Jenkin Road.

The apparent lack of evidence for the Ridge’s connection with the Parkgate Rock outcrop contrasted sharply with the prominence of the spur of Silkstone Rock. This disparity also appears to have contributed to the 19th-century assertions that the Roman Ridge ran to the hillfort, although the Ridge’s 17th-century name, ‘Kemp Ditch or Camp Ditch’, suggests an earlier belief that the earthwork was associated with the fort.
See Plate 39: Outcrop of Silkstone Rock sandstone on south face of Wincobank Hill, mistakenly identified as the Roman Ridge

6.5.1 Joseph Hunter
In discussing the Roman Ridge in 1828, Joseph Hunter stated that, at Wincobank, the earthwork was ‘imposing and grand in the extreme’ although it was located ‘amongst the wood, and is not to be discovered without a strict search’ (Hunter 1828, vii). Hunter located the monument with reference to Jenkin Road, the ‘carriage road from Brightside’ that ‘cut’ the Roman Ridge, ‘near the summit of the hill’ (Hunter 1828, viii). This suggests that he was not describing the section of the Ridge within the study area, but the Scheduled parts of the earthwork approximately 0.28km below the brow of the hill at Jenkin Road. Hunter did not attempt to project the missing section of the Ridge or offer a description of the monument to the south of Jenkin Road. This may have been because the land through which the latter ran was inaccessible or because the majority of that part of the Ridge had been levelled by the late 18th century and consequently Hunter was unaware of the earthwork’s former course along the east slope of the hill.

6.5.2 Samuel Mitchell
Samuel Mitchell stated that ‘fortified earthworks’ were connected with the hillfort ‘both eastward and westward’ (Mitchell 1855, 68). This indicates an awareness of both the Silkstone and Parkgate Rock outcrops, although as Mitchell believed that the Roman Ridge had run up the south slope of Wincobank Hill, he is likely to have been unaware that the Parkgate outcrop had traversed the eastern slope. His ‘eastward’ earthwork is thus likely to have been the large, Scheduled section of the Ridge to the north of Jenkin Road.

Mitchell believed that both of the sandstone outcrops were defensive works and stated that from the north-west bank of the hillfort ‘runs an immense bank, partly natural...of which the British have taken advantage, and artificial wherever the works required additional strength’ (Mitchell 1855, 68). There is no evidence that the Roman Ridge ever ran from the north-west side of the hillfort or that a similar embankment in that area had been fortified artificially in the manner of the Ridge and remained extant in the mid-19th century.

The likelihood is that the ‘north-west’ direction was given in error and that in recording the ‘outward ditch of considerable depth’ that had been ‘excavated on the south side of this immense vallum’, Mitchell was describing the Roman Ridge to the north of Jenkin Road (Mitchell 1855, 68).

6.5.3 Payne and Burland
Henry Payne and John Burland visited Wincobank in 1876 and walked the supposed course of the Roman Ridge from the hillfort to the northern base of Wincobank Hill in the Blackburn Valley (Payne and Burland 1879, 613). Believing the monument to be a former Roman road, Payne and Burland traced its course ‘directly from the camp’ to the section of the Ridge on the north side of Jenkin Road (Payne and Burland 1879, 614). As the route was ‘at first scarcely recognisable’, Payne and Burland realised that ‘others might differ from us in opinion as to its probable direction’ and decided to describe its course in detail only ‘where it is conspicuous, and admits of no doubt’ (Payne and Burland 1879, 614-615).
 
Rather than following the line of the ‘Roman road’ across the fields, Payne and Burland walked down Winco Wood Lane to ‘pass a group of cottages on our right hand, and presently enter the road to Brightside’ (Payne and Burland 1879, 615). They then followed Jenkin Road until they reached a footpath on the left side, which ‘coincides with the top of a well-defined ridge’ (Payne and Burland 1879, 615). This is a clear description of the route from Winco Wood Lane to the Scheduled section of the Ridge that stands outside the study area to the north of Jenkin Road. Upon examining the monument in this area, they found that ‘the ridge was for the most part natural, and that its summit only was artificial’ (Payne and Burland 1879, 615).

6.5.4 Sidney Addy
Sidney Addy produced an extensive account of the Roman Ridge on Wincobank Hill in 1893, including an aquatint illustration by William Keeling of that part of the Ridge to the north of Jenkin Road. Addy claimed that the course of ‘the missing parts...can be supplied from the portions which remain’ and that the levelled sections had extended to the base of Wincobank Hill. The Ridge had then been ‘continuous with the ridgeway which goes up the hill and through Wincobank Wood, as far as the camp on top of the wood, and from thence to Kimberworth’ (Addy 1893, 232-233, 238).

Addy’s belief that the Roman Ridge was represented by the outcrop of Silkstone Rock sandstone was maintained despite his knowledge that the known sections of the Ridge in the Wincobank and Grimesthorpe areas included an artificial earthwork with a substantial ditch on its south side. The absence of a ditch ‘or any artificial work’ along any part of the Silkstone outcrop was held to have been due to ‘the slopes of the natural ridge on both sides being so steep that a ditch would have been for defensive purposes unnecessary’ (Addy 1893, 232-233).
 
Addy’s account did not depict or discuss the Scheduled section of the Roman Ridge on the south side of Jenkin Road and it is not clear if he was aware of its existence. Soil appears to have built up along the north face of this part of the monument (Preston 1950b, 209), reducing its profile, while trees were shown along the top of the Ridge on the 1788 Fairbank draft map of Brightside and remained extant along the west side of the monument on the 1892 Ordnance Survey map. This part of the Ridge may thus have been screened from Addy’s viewpoint at the north.
 
Addy’s identification of an ‘ancient way’ that formed part of a ‘Ridgeway’ which connected Wincobank hillfort to the Roman Ridge at the north of Jenkin Road (see pp.7-9, above) cannot be confirmed on the basis of the current evidence, although it is possible that a track of unknown date may indeed have connected these two features. Joseph Hunter stated that, to the north of Jenkin Road, the Ridge pointed ‘directly to the work’, thus implying that the course of the monument itself ran to Wincobank hillfort (Hunter 1828, vii). A part of the ditch of the Roman Ridge that was identified during a 1995 South Yorkshire Archaeology Service excavation to the south of Jenkin Road was also projected to run north-west in the direction of the hillfort (Turnbull 1995, 2-3).

This discovery was unexpected as, by the late 20th century, the earthwork’s course along the east slope of the hill had been accepted for several decades and the ditch was expected to run directly towards the Scheduled section of the Ridge on the south side of the road (Armitage 1897, xvi; Armitage and Montgomerie 1912, 55; Preston 1950b, 209). However, it should be noted that SYAS excavated a trench across, and a trial hole within, the ditch and did not attempt to trace its alignment (Turnbull 1995, Fig.2). It is therefore not known if the ditch’s subsequent course continued towards the hillfort or, as is perhaps more likely, veered south-west in a shallow curve towards the Scheduled section of the Ridge on the south side of Jenkin Road.
 
William Keeling’s 1893 aquatint depicted the monument as it descended the north-east face of the hill into Blackburn Valley (Plate 40). Keeling did not present an idealised impression of the way that the Ridge may have appeared when the monument was in pristine condition, but as it survived in 1893. The Ridge was shown as a rough, earthen bank, with a lengthy slope on the north side and a shallower slope into the ditch on the south. The bank appeared to be an undulating feature that varied in height and alignment as it ran down the hill, away from the viewpoint of the artist. Silting and the partial slumping of the bank’s south face appeared to have reduced the depth and profile of the ditch, which did not show a counterscarp on its south side. Three people were shown using the footpath on top of the bank; the compacted surface of this track indicated that it was a long-established footpath by the late 19th century.
See Plate 40: 1893 William Keeling aquatint of the Roman Ridge on the north-east slope of Wincobank Hill

Martin Davenport’s 1939 illustration of the Ridge’s descent from the hilltop into Blackburn Valley (Plate 41) depicted the earthwork up to three times the height of nearby houses and thus appears to be speculative rather than a reconstruction based on evidence (Armitage 1939, 258).
Plate 41: 1939 Martin Davenport illustration of Roman Ridge on north-east face of Wincobank Hill

The existence of the unscheduled section of the Roman Ridge in the south-east part of the study area appears to have been little-known until this part of Wincobank Wood was cleared of trees during the late 19th and early 20th centuries (Cronk 2004, 50). This part of the monument appears to have survived due to its presence within a wooded area. The discovery of the unscheduled section demonstrated that the outcrop of Silkstone Rock on the south slope of Wincobank Hill was not part of the Roman Ridge. The artificial earthwork itself had not survived at this location (Cronk 2004, 48) and the ditch was not readily apparent. It remains unclear if the ditch survives as a sub-surface feature.

6.6 Modern research on the Ridge
6.6.1 Ella Armitage
Ella Armitage produced the first explicit identification of the Ridge’s course on Wincobank Hill in 1897, stating that it ‘ran like a terrace’ along the hill’s east side (Armitage 1897, 38). Despite assertions throughout the 19th century that the Roman Ridge ran to Wincobank hillfort, Armitage ‘failed to see any such connection on my visits to the camp’ and stated that ‘What I did see was that the Rig coasts the face of the hill at a considerable distance below the camp, from the point where it is cut off by (Grimesthorpe) quarry to the place where the Wincobank road crosses it’ (Armitage 1897, xvi). The monument was so visible in this area that ‘its line can be distinctly seen from the Midland Railway between Brightside and Wincobank’ (Armitage 1897, xvi, 88).

Elijah Howarth subsequently acknowledged that to the east of the hillfort ‘stretches a long ridge of sandstone rock, which is supposed have been used as a line of defence, with the gaps in it built up’ (Howarth 1905a, 1). This appears to have been a reference to the section of the Ridge to the north of Jenkin Road, however, as Howarth also claimed that the Ridge ran to the fort (Howarth 1905, 1). Armitage subsequently refuted these assertions, stating explicitly that the common perception of a physical connection between the hillfort and the Ridge ‘is an error’ (Armitage and Montgomerie 1912, 55).

6.6.2 F.L. Preston
F.L. Preston attempted to trace the course of the Roman Ridge from Sheffield to Mexborough in the late 1940s. By this date, the unscheduled section of the Ridge had been identified on the east slope of the hill and had been marked on Ordnance Survey maps. Preston found that the Parkgate Rock outcrop was visible to the north-east of the quarry, but that it had been quarried away in the intervening area and its former course could not readily be distinguished. Attempts to identify further remnants of the Ridge in this area produced negligible results due to the ‘extensive’ activities at Grimesthorpe Quarry (Preston 1950b, 208). A 1948 aerial photograph of the area revealed the degree of quarrying and dumping that had taken place and supported Preston’s statement that ‘the ground here is confused’ (Preston 1950b, 208).
Preston located the unscheduled section of the Ridge that had been shown on the 1935 Ordnance Survey map and found that it comprised ‘two slight, but well-defined…wholly natural’ ridges separated by a depression (Preston 1950b, 208). This indicates that the artificial elements of the Roman Ridge were no longer extant on the crest of the Parkgate outcrop by the mid-20th century. It is not clear to what extent this was due to erosion or damage, and the period in which the sandstone outcrop had lost its artificial earthwork is unclear.

Due to the absence of any artificial modifications, Preston did not record this part of the outcrop in detail and merely remarked that the ‘ridges fade out near the footpath’ to the Grange at the north-east (Preston 1950b, 208). By plotting a presumed continuation of the outcrop’s former alignment, Preston concluded that the Ridge would have crossed a field to the north-east and passed the south corner of the reservoir that had been constructed in the late 19th-century (Preston 1950b, 208).

A series of field boundaries appeared to have been established along the line of the Ridge, which further supports the perception that the sandstone outcrop had been removed in order to ‘improve’ the land for agricultural purposes. The alignment of the field boundaries implied that the Ridge, or perhaps a reduced remnant of it, may have been extant when the fields were laid out. The field boundaries were extant at the time of William Fairbank’s 1788 draft map of Brightside (Plate 42) but are likely to have been established much earlier, perhaps even prior to John Harrison’s 1637 survey (NAA 2001, 65-66).
See Plate 42: Detail of 1788 Fairbank draft map of Brightside

A linear band of vegetation marked the course of these field boundaries in 1788 although, in contrast to the Scheduled section of the Ridge, there was no indication that a large embankment was present in this area. The suggestion that the outcrop had been removed or substantially reduced along this alignment by 1788 is supported by Preston’s discovery of a small bank, approximately 0.6 to 1.5m in height, along the field boundary. This is likely to have been the remnant of the Parkgate Rock outcrop and thus to have indicated the former course of the Roman Ridge. The ‘stunted bushes scattered along its course’ (Preston 1950b, 208) may have been the remnants of the vegetation that had been shown on this alignment on the 1788 map and which had led directly to the standing section of the Roman Ridge to the south of Jenkin Road (Plate 42).

Preston described the latter part of the Ridge as a bank that was level with the field on the north-west, with an embankment of approximately 4.9m on the south-east side; a ‘berm’ or mound of earth approximately 3.9m in width, was present at the base of the bank. These features were found to be ‘continuous as far as the S.W. corner of the former plantation containing the now derelict Brightside Summer House. Here they end, the bank sloping to a former footpath alongside the wall of the plantation’ (Preston 1950b, 209). This arrangement appeared to be unchanged from that shown in this area on the 1788 Fairbank draft map. No trace of the Ridge was visible in the field between this point and Jenkin Road (Preston 1950b, 209).

6.6.3 Kathleen Cronk
By the time that Cronk wrote in 2004, the prominence of the unscheduled section of the Roman Ridge within the south-east part of the study area had been reduced by the landscaping works associated with the reclamation of James Childs’ steelworks tip and the subsequent creation of football fields on its former site. Cronk did not consider Preston’s account of the Ridge’s course along the eastern slope of Wincobank Hill to be definitive and suggested that ‘the bank and berm he described could have been a natural feature’(Cronk 2004, 54). Similarly, rather than accepting Preston’s 0.6 to 1.5m bank as the much-reduced remnant of the Parkgate Rock outcrop on which the Ridge had run, Cronk also dismissed this as a possible natural feature ‘or the result of activities which had nothing to do with the Roman Ridge’ (Cronk 2004, 62).

Cronk does not seem to have been aware of the 1788 Fairbank draft map of Brightside, however, which showed the Scheduled section of the Ridge on the south side of Jenkin Road when it retained several metres at its south-west end that have been removed subsequently. Whereas the Ridge now ends at the line of a former footpath, it had extended beyond the path in 1788, towards the field boundary described subsequently by Preston. This suggests strongly that, prior to its removal, the outcrop of Parkgate Rock that carried the Roman Ridge did indeed run south-west towards the unscheduled part of the Ridge, rather than north-west to the hillfort.

Cronk believed that the ‘small camp’ formed part of the Roman Ridge and may have been constructed to defend the earthwork (Cronk 2004, 47). The 1945 and 1948 aerial photographs show clearly that the camp straddled the sandstone ridge. The paths along the top of the outcrop appeared white due to erosion, while the boundary of the camp appeared black, perhaps indicating that the perimeters were marked by ditches, possibly cut into the sandstone outcrop and filled with subsoil by the 1940s. There is no further evidence to demonstrate this, however, and Cronk stated that ‘if anything is now left of this earthwork it is impossible to detect it on the surface’ (Cronk 2004, 60).
 
Aerial photographs indicate that by 1959 the western part of the camp had been buried by Childs’ tipping operations, while the whole of the site was occupied by landscaped ground associated with the playing field by 1978. It is not clear to what extent the camp was damaged or destroyed by the landscaping works associated with the creation of the football fields. 
 
Recommended reading:
The Key to English Antiquities by Ella S Armitage