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Horsley Castle tower keep castle

A Scheduled Monument in Horsley, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 52.9849 / 52°59'5"N

Longitude: -1.4416 / 1°26'29"W

OS Eastings: 437581.626329

OS Northings: 343202.987114

OS Grid: SK375432

Mapcode National: GBR 6D4.VQG

Mapcode Global: WHDGM.T7PL

Entry Name: Horsley Castle tower keep castle

Scheduled Date: 31 October 1962

Last Amended: 25 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009293

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23364

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Horsley

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Horsley St Clement

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument includes part of the remains of the 12th century tower keep
castle known variously from documents as Horsley Castle and Horeston Castle.
These remains include the keep, the defensive ditch which extends round the
north and east sides of the outcrop on which the keep is situated, and the
counterscarp bank which flanks the outer edge of the ditch.
A bailey or outer enclosure containing various service buildings relating to
the castle would formerly have occupied part of the area surrounding the keep
but this has not been included in the scheduling as its original extent and
location are unclear and it is likely to have been at least partially
destroyed by 19th century quarrying. Also excluded is the park and warren
associated with the castle which may also date from the medieval period.
Although features relating to these will survive, their extent and state of
preservation are not sufficiently understood for them to be included
in the scheduling.
In addition to its buried foundations, the remains of the keep comprise
upstanding sections of the north and west walls which display evidence of
square corner towers and the remains of two water spouts. The north wall
survives to a maximum of c.5m and retains a substantial portion of its ashlar
plinth. Elsewhere, the wall core of mortared rubble can be seen. The defensive
ditch to the north and east is c.15m wide and up to 5m deep and is flanked by
a counterscarp bank which measures c.10m wide and 5m high. The basement storey
of the keep was partially excavated by Charles Kerry in the mid-19th century
when parts of the walls were unearthed and fragments of wooden beams
exposed. Kerry was also responsible for uncovering a variety of records
documenting the castle from the late 12th century onwards. From these it is
known that the site was part of the barony of de Buron from 1086 until 1514,
when the castle and manor of Horsley were granted by Henry VIII to the Duke of
Norfolk as part of his reward for services rendered at the Battle of Flodden
Field. In 1568 Thomas Stanhope held the castle. From him it descended to the
Earls of Chesterfield, one of whom sold the manor and estate, including the
castle, to the Sitwell family in c.1817.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A tower keep castle is a strongly fortified residence in which the keep is the
principal defensive feature. The keep may be free-standing or surrounded by a
defensive enclosure; they are normally square in shape, although other shapes
are known. Internally they have several floors providing accommodation of
various types. If the keep has an attached enclosure this will normally be
defined by a defensive wall, frequently with an external ditch. Access into
the enclosure was provided by a bridge across the ditch, allowing entry via a
gatehouse. Additional buildings, including stabling for animals and workshops,
may be found within the enclosure. Tower keep castles were built throughout
the medieval period, from immediately after the Norman Conquest to the mid-
15th century, with a peak in the middle of the 12th century. A few were
constructed on the sites of earlier earthwork castle types but most were new
creations. They provided strongly fortified residences for the king or leading
families and occur in both urban or rural situations. Tower keep castles are
widely dispersed throughout England with a major concentration on the Welsh
border. They are rare nationally with only 104 recorded examples. Considerable
diversity of form is exhibited with no two examples being exactly alike. With
other castle types, they are major medieval monument types which, belonging to
the highest levels of society, frequently acted as major administrative
centres and formed the foci for developing settlement patterns. Castles
generally provide an emotive and evocative link to the past and can provide a
valuable educational resource, both with respect to medieval warfare and
defence, and to wider aspects of medieval society. All examples retaining
significant remains of medieval date are considered to be nationally

Horsley Castle is a reasonably well-documented example of a tower keep castle
built overlooking the strategically important Derwent valley. In addition to
the partially upstanding tower keep, the undisturbed remains of related
features survive, including part of the defensive earthworks.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cox, JC, The Victoria History of the County of Derbyshire, (1905), 383-4
Kerry, C, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Annals Of Horeston And Horsley, , Vol. 10, (1888), 16-28

Source: Historic England

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