About Malton

Malton is a market town in North Yorkshire, England. The town is the location of the offices of Ryedale District Council and has a population of around 4,000 people.

It is located to the north of the River Derwent which forms the historic boundary between the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire.

Facing Malton on the other side of the Derwent is Norton. Malton Bacon Factory, Malton bus station and Malton railway station are actually located in Norton-on-Derwent.

Malton is the local commercial centre. In the town centre there are lots of small traditional independent shops. The market place has recently become a meeting area with a number of coffee bars and cafés opening all day to complement the public houses and weekly street market which takes place on Saturday’s.


Malton is on the A64, which runs from Leeds and York to Scarborough, at the junction with the A169 to Pickering and Whitby.


Malton railway station is on the TransPennine Express route, with fast trains every hour running from Scarborough to York, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool. There have been discussions about re-opening the rail link between Malton and Pickering.


Malton is home to Coastliner, a division of the TransDev bus group. Buses run from Leeds and York through Malton to Pickering, Whitby, Scarborough, and Bridlington. There are also regular buses to Castle Howard and Hovingham plus a number of other local bus routes.


The town stands on the site of a former Roman settlement, although no firm conclusion has been agreed upon as to which this settlement actually was. The uncertainty surrounds, in particular, the exact location of the Roman town of Derventio. Contradictory records describe Derventio as being either 7 or 17 miles east of York. The former is consistent with the site of a Roman settlement known to have existed in proximity to the current village of Stamford Bridge, in which case the settlement at Malton is more likely to have been Delgovicia. The latter places Derventio at Malton.

If there is still academic debate about the name, what is certain is that Roman Malton was, from the second half of the first century, a busy and a lively place. Consisting firstly of the important cavalry fort whose remains lie in Old Malton under the former pasture land known as Orchard Fields, right beside a disused railway cutting, it eventually extended to include an adjoining area of civil settlement or vicus on the north bank, immediately south of the fort and sited above the necessary river crossing or bridge(s) below. Right opposite, on the southern side of the modern river Derwent (whose name is immediately traceable back to that Derventio commonly suggested as most likely place name in Roman times) was an area of ‘grid iron’ street planning and metal workshops which we know from an inscription included a goldsmith’s shop managed for its owner by a young slave. These ‘planned’ Roman streets on the south bank therefore seem natural precursor to the more industrial atmosphere and activity which modern Norton still retains to this day, whilst Roman Malton across the river could boast at least one fine townhouse that was furnished with painted walls, mosaic floors, heated rooms and sculptural architectural decoration, examples of which can all be seen in the Malton Museum in the Old Town Hall.

Likewise, what we know of Roman horse-keeping activity seems to echo modern Malton’s continuing reputation as another Yorkshire town famous for racehorse breeding and training. Derventio itself was a strategically important cavalry fort, 17 miles from the Legionary fortress at York (Eboracum) and standing at the very hub of Roman road networks extending right across North and East Yorkshire. Its known garrison, the Ala Picentiana, was a regiment or cavalry ‘wing’ of some repute, one arguably traceable from its first being raised in Gaul (modern France) under Julius Caesar himself; to its later serving in the Balkans (under a man called Picens whom the regiment is believed to be named after) before eventual posting to Britain. Marcus Claudius Bassus was a known commander of the regiment whilst in Malton, but another man called Candidus and his own links with the Ala at Derventio receive permanent record in a beautifully-lettered fragmentary dedication stone set up by the unit commander outside the south-east gate of the fort, then eventually found in 1970 before going on display in the Old Town Hall today.

As well as York itself, their road network shows us what key strategic and social links there were for Malton to the only other important Roman town located within the territory of the local Celtic tribe, the Parisii; namely their tribal capital, Roman naval-base and major ferry-crossing sited at Brough-on-Humber (Petuaria). As the historical novelist Clive Ashman so vividly puts it in “MOSAIC – the Pavement that Walked” (Voreda Books) his fictionalised account of not only the true-life, 1948 theft of a Roman mosaic from Brough, but also the original fate of the Roman villa it came from (and of the Ala Picentiana itself): “As for the glorious Ala traceable back to Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars, it is an inevitable truth that hundreds of years later there came one final day when its men rode jingling out of Derventio fort, never to be seen there again.”

Once the Ala had gone, it was replaced towards the end of the Romans’ 350-year occupation by an irregular unit sent up from Brough – the Numerus Supervenientum Petuarensium. This proved just a temporary measure in what became ever darker times. From 367 AD until the last Roman troops withdrew around 405 AD, Roman Malton was attacked and ruined several times – by the end it was not much better than an enclosure of fallen rubble they were vainly cutting their fresh defensive ditches around. What they made of it all we can only guess, but we do know that these people living amongst the ruins of Roman Malton were about to enter that long period known to us now as the Dark Ages.

In Mediaeval times, Malton was briefly a parliamentary borough in the 13th century, and again from 1640 to 1885; the borough was sometimes referred to as New Malton. It was represented by two Members of Parliament until 1868, among them the political philosopher Edmund Burke, and by one member from 1868 to 1885.