Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Worksop Castle: eleventh century motte castle and twelfth century shell keep castle

A Scheduled Monument in Worksop South, Nottinghamshire

We don't have any photos of this monument yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?

Upload Photo »

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 53.3032 / 53°18'11"N

Longitude: -1.1268 / 1°7'36"W

OS Eastings: 458287.906839

OS Northings: 378831.895389

OS Grid: SK582788

Mapcode National: GBR NZK7.VL

Mapcode Global: WHDF7.N7MH

Entry Name: Worksop Castle: eleventh century motte castle and twelfth century shell keep castle

Scheduled Date: 8 August 1930

Last Amended: 26 November 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009295

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13395

County: Nottinghamshire

Electoral Ward/Division: Worksop South

Built-Up Area: Worksop

Traditional County: Nottinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Nottinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Worksop St Anne

Church of England Diocese: Southwell and Nottingham


The castle at Worksop is situated on a sandstone promontory overlooking the
valley of the River Ryton. The monument includes the motte or castle mound,
part of the surrounding ditch and an outwork on the west side. A bailey or
outer enclosure would formerly have extended into the surrounding area and
been the location of features such as ancillary and garrison buildings and
corrals for stock and horses. Although archaeological remains relating to the
bailey are likely to survive beneath modern urban development, they have not
been included in the scheduling as their extent and state of preservation is
not sufficiently understood.
The growth of the modern town has concealed the strategic location of the
castle, but originally it was built to command the surrounding land and the
marshy river valley to the north. According to Domesday Book, the land was
held by the Saxon lord Elsi prior to 1066 and it is believed that a Saxon
fortification may have preceded the Norman castle. The first Norman castle
was probably built by Roger de Busli in the late eleventh century. Initially
it would have comprised a timber keep or stockade but this had been rebuilt in
stone by the end of the twelfth century under the lordship of the de Lovetots.
The form of the stone castle is not fully understood because, by the
sixteenth century, it had been demolished and only the foundations will now
survive on the castle mound. The appearance of the motte, however, indicates
that it would have been a shell keep. The motte is a flat-topped earthwork
roughly 50m in diameter and stands between 10m and 12m high above the base of
the surrounding ditch. On the north-east side, erosion has exposed the
construction material and shows that an artificial layer 2-2.5m thick, was
built on top of natural sandstone roughly 8m thick. The ditch on the south
and west sides, the only areas where it has not been encroached upon by modern
development, is c.10m wide. On the west side it is flanked by an oval mound
c.3m high and measuring 10m by 15m. This outwork would have been the location
of a gate-tower leading to a drawbridge over the ditch and would have been the
main point of access into the keep.
A number of features within the area are excluded from the scheduling. These
are the commemorative limestone block on top of the castle mound, benches, the
metal railing along the north side of the motte, a telegraph pole, the surface
of the path from Norfolk Street to the car park south of the monument, the
steps up to the car park, all boundary walling and fencing and the line of
bollards along the south-east edge of the monument which divide it from the
back lane behind the houses on Norfolk Street. The ground beneath these
features is, however, included in the scheduling.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Motte castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the
Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte,
surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of
examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey,
adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte-and-bai1ey castles acted as
garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in
many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal
administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte castles
generally occupied strategic positions dominating their immediate locality
and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of the early
post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape. Over 600 motte castles
and motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from
most regions. Some 100-150 examples do not have baileys and are classified as
motte castles. As one of a restricted range of recognised early post-Conquest
monuments, they are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and
the development of the feudal system. Although many were occupied for only a
short period of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from
the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other
types of castle.

Between the Conquest and the mid-thirteenth century, usually during the
twelfth century, a number of mottes and other earthwork castles were
remodelled in stone so that the timber palisade was replaced by a thick
defensive wall known as a shell keep. The shell keep would have carried a
timber wall-walk and timber buildings would have been built round the
interior. The castle at Worksop is an example of this though, now, only the
earthwork remains survive. These, however, are reasonably well-preserved and
will retain significant archaeological remains relating to the structures
built on the motte and on the adjacent outwork.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Nottinghamshire: Volume I, (1906), 293
'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in Transactions of the Thoroton Society: Volume 59, , Vol. 59, (1955), 98-9
Leland, J, Itinerary 1535-43, (1907)

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.