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Bothamsall motte and bailey castle and hollow way

A Scheduled Monument in Bothamsall, Nottinghamshire

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Latitude: 53.2517 / 53°15'6"N

Longitude: -0.9951 / 0°59'42"W

OS Eastings: 467144.2394

OS Northings: 373215.739814

OS Grid: SK671732

Mapcode National: GBR PZHV.C2

Mapcode Global: WHFGM.PJBJ

Entry Name: Bothamsall motte and bailey castle and hollow way

Scheduled Date: 9 April 1951

Last Amended: 9 December 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009299

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13398

County: Nottinghamshire

Civil Parish: Bothamsall

Traditional County: Nottinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Nottinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Bothamsall

Church of England Diocese: Southwell and Nottingham


The monument includes the motte and bailey of Bothamsall Castle and the hollow
way leading into the bailey. The monument is included within two areas which
are separated by the road from Bothamsall to Warsop. To the north of the road
is a semi-circular section of the bailey measuring c.150m from east to west by
c.50m from north to south. Ploughing has gradually levelled the features
within this part of the monument so that the only remaining visible feature is
a very slight bank round the perimeter of the bailey, situated above the
natural slope. The buried remains of ancillary features such as buildings and
enclosures will survive, however, below the depth reached by the plough. The
larger part of the monument lies to the south of the road and includes the
motte, or castle mound, the rest of the bailey and the remains of a sunken
track or hollow way leading from the south. This part of the bailey is a
semi-circular area measuring c.170m east to west by c.80m north to south and
is enclosed by a series of defensive earthworks. They can be seen to comprise
a single rampart to the west and east and a double rampart to the south
divided by a berm or terrace. Approximately 15m south of the foot of the
double rampart is the edge of a steep slope down into the valley of the River
Meden. This slope may have been deliberately scarped when the castle was built
in order to increase the gradient and to form an extra line of defence. This,
however, has not been confirmed and so the scarp is not included in the
scheduling. However, a sunken track leading from the edge of this scarp
towards the western end of the double rampart, then proceeding through the
ramparts into the bailey is included in the scheduling. Where it lies outside
the ramparts, this track is flanked by low earthworks which indicate that it
was a covered way protected by walls or palisades. Within the bailey, at its
western end, is the motte. This is a steep sided conical mound measuring c.5m
high and surrounded by a 5m wide ditch which is currently c.2m deep. The top
of the mound is roughly circular and enclosed by a bank or parapet measuring
c.1m high by 1m wide. It encloses an area with a diameter of approximately
22m and will have been the site of a wall or palisade. This bank and the east
side of the motte have been slightly disturbed by World War II Home Guard
trenches, created to overlook the road. The castle itself was built to
command the surrounding land and the marshy river valley to the south and may
have been an adulterine castle; that is, one built without the king's
permission. This probably occurred in the mid-twelfth century, during the
period of civil strife between the factions of King Stephen and his rival for
the throne, the Empress Matilda or Maud. Excluded from the scheduling are the
boundary fences and gates flanking both constraint areas along the roadside,
although the ground underneath these features is included.

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

Motte and bailey 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-bailey 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 and
bailey 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 or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally,
with examples known from most regions. 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.

Bothamsall motte and bailey castle is a reasonably well-preserved example of
an adulterine fort built to command a river valley. Although the bailey and
its defensive earthworks have been partially disturbed by ploughing and gravel
extraction, sufficient remains intact for the structure of the earthworks to
be preserved and also for the remains of ancillary features such as garrison
buildings and corrals for stock and horses to be retained. The motte has
survived largely intact and will retain archaeological evidence of the
structure that formerly stood on the top.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Nottinghamshire: Volume I, (1906), 305
'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in Transactions of the Thoroton Society: Volume 43, , Vol. 43, (1939), 6
'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in Transactions of the Thoroton Society: Volume 35, , Vol. 35, (1931), 1-3

Source: Historic England

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