Old Duffield Village, Church, and Castle,
Later came the Romans - 56 BC - and there is much evidence that they occupied this site for some 200 years, and made it stronger. We know that the Wirksworth lead mines were worked by the Romans, and a Roman road can be traced leading from Wirksworth, approaching Duffield by the Chevin ridge and crossing the Derwent by a ford nearly opposite the castle site, and so on to the great Roman artery known as Rykneld Street, which passes within two miles from the east bank of the Derwent. Hence the importance of the stronghold which defended the road and the passage of the ford used by the convoys of mules with lead from Wirksworth. Great quantities of Roman earthenware were found on the site of the castle and by the ford.
NB: Another ford, nearly opposite the railway station, with a lane leading to it, is shown in the map of the 1791 Enclosure Act award. The ford where Dr. Cox found Roman remains was a few hundred yards higher up the river.
My grandfather does not offer any actual evidence that the Romans occupied the castle mound and improved the fortifications. Other writers rubbish the idea, pointing out that Roman utensils would be useful to the indigenous population and would be acquired by them, or that they themselves manufactured it in the Roman style. They further suggest that the Romans would have no need to protect the convoys in a largely uninhabited area. However if there were locals living on the castle mound and round about, it depends how subdued they were. The lead itself, one would think, would not be of great value to them. When fording the river, however, the convoys would be vulnerable to various threats, including reprisals. Such convoys would, however, not be a daily occurence. Any military support, therefore might be sent out from Derby. Perhaps, even, they had a temporary encampment. In the end, it's all a matter of speculation.
First published 1922, Derby, Harpur and Son. Website copyright 2001 Jed Bland. 16.04.01