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Bakewell Burh

In the civil parish of Bakewell.
In the historic county of Derbyshire.
Modern Authority of Derbyshire.
1974 county of Derbyshire.
Medieval County of Derbyshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SK217686
Latitude 53.21404° Longitude -1.67650°

Bakewell Burh has been described as a Urban Defence although is doubtful that it was such.

There are no visible remains.


In the year 920, Edward the Elder marched the English army Northwards and founded a burh at Bakewell (PastScape ref Whitchurch).

A.D. 924 . This year, before midsummer, went King Edward with an army to Nottingham; and ordered the town to be repaired on the south side of the river, opposite the other, and the bridge over the Trent betwixt the two towns. Thence he went to Bakewell in Peakland; and ordered a fort to be built as near as possible to it, and manned. (ASC - Ingram Everyman edn)

Bond puts in list of Burghal forts of no later urban significance.

Clive Hart, in 'The North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey' of 1981, page 121, identified a possible earthwork on the east bank of the river Wye which he suggested could be the burh. He described it as an earthen bank 6-7m wide with a ditch up to 4m across, forming a wide arc with the open end towards the Wye floodplain. This suggestion was taken up by Stetka, who carried out further documentary work and survey. This was published in 1997 as 'King Edward the Elder's Burh - the Lost Village of Burton by Bakewell', an Occasional Paper of the Bakewell and District Historical Society. In this, he suggests that Hart's earthwork actually formed just one corner of a much larger entrenchment and he uses documentary and place-name evidence to support the identification of the site as the Edwardian fort. However, archaeological work carried out by Trent & Peak Archaeological Unit (TPAU) in 1997 on the southern and south-western boundary did not produce any evidence of a bank and ditch. TPAU also pointed out that the line of the burh that Stetka posits on the south and west sides follows a boundary which first appears on the 1810 enclosure plan and is therefore of no antiquity. (Gill Stroud, 2010)

There has been considerable speculation as to the exact location of this fortified site (see section 5.3.3 above), one being Castle Hill on the east side of the River Wye crossing, another being an earthwork further south-east on the east bank of the river (Hart 1981, Stetka 1997), and the third being 'Upper Bakewell, in the area to the north and west of the church and churchyard, to include the church itself (Penny 2002). (Extensive Urban Survey)

There is little physical evidence of an urban defence at Bakewell and that physical evidence and the historic evidence is open to much debate. Authors may have assumed this fort to be an urban burh like Wareham or Wallingford, but it could have been a thegnal burh on the site later occupied by the Norman motte of Bakewell Castle Hill. Ingham's translation of 'as near as possible to it' does suggest outside of the village. Gatehouse suspects that Edward granted the Danish town to a Saxon theng with instructions to build himself a fortified house, thus putting a Saxon warrior leader and a few armed men, in occupied Danish territory. Davies-Pyrce's 1904 critic of Ella Armitage's work makes much the same point. (Philip Davis 20-9-2010)

The map reference given in PastScape, and used here, is rather arbitrary. It is within Bakewell but isn't the site of an archaeological feature.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:09

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