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Castle Gresley motte and bailey castle

A Scheduled Monument in Castle Gresley, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 52.7579 / 52°45'28"N

Longitude: -1.5875 / 1°35'14"W

OS Eastings: 427936.452708

OS Northings: 317891.346305

OS Grid: SK279178

Mapcode National: GBR 5FJ.1GR

Mapcode Global: WHCGD.LY82

Entry Name: Castle Gresley motte and bailey castle

Scheduled Date: 31 August 1966

Last Amended: 17 January 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011209

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23288

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Castle Gresley

Built-Up Area: Swadlincote

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Linton and Castle Gresley Christ Church

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument includes the motte and three baileys of Castle Gresley motte and
bailey castle. The centrally placed motte is a steep-sided conical mound
measuring c.4m high. Its summit is roughly circular and slightly raised around
the edge, indicating that it was the site of a stone wall or timber palisade.
The overall width of the summit is c.12m but, on the north-east side, there is
a raised circular platform measuring c.5m wide. This is interpreted as the
site of a tower or keep. Round the base of the motte is a 10m wide ditch with
a current depth of c.2m. This feature is best preserved on the south, east and
west sides of the motte but also exists as a buried feature on the north side
where it has been partially filled in with earth from the adjacent modern
housing development. At its east end, the ditch is truncated by a 2m wide bank
which connects the motte to a 3m high mound on the other side of the ditch.
This second mound or outwork would have been the site of another tower and may
have guarded the entrance into the castle. The motte and the outwork occupy
the north side of the central bailey which is the largest of the three
enclosures. It is divided from the northern bailey by a 2m deep linear ditch
which is c.5m wide and from the southern bailey by a short scarp and a 5m wide
berm or terrace. There are no earthwork ramparts round the edges of the site
but all three baileys are delimited by steep scarps which would, originally,
have been crowned by timber palisades. The buried remains of a variety of
domestic and ancillary buildings will survive within the baileys and will
include the lord's hall and other living accommodation, kitchens, workshops,
stabling and corrals for stock and horses. The castle is in an elevated
position and would, originally, have commanded wide views over the countryside
between the River Trent to the north and the River Mease to the south.
Excluded from the scheduling are all perimeter fencing, the sheds and stable
within the area of the north bailey, and the underground MOD installation in
the central bailey although the ground beneath all these features except the
MOD installation is included.

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

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.

Castle Gresley motte and bailey castle is an extensive and well-preserved
example which has suffered only minimal disturbance and therefore retains
intact archaeological remains throughout.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Derby: Volume I, (1905), 379

Source: Historic England

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