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Tapton Castle motte

A Scheduled Monument in Brimington South, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.2449 / 53°14'41"N

Longitude: -1.4146 / 1°24'52"W

OS Eastings: 439160.824687

OS Northings: 372141.86266

OS Grid: SK391721

Mapcode National: GBR LZKX.JJ

Mapcode Global: WHDF9.7PMS

Entry Name: Tapton Castle motte

Scheduled Date: 29 December 1952

Last Amended: 9 September 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011210

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23289

County: Derbyshire

Electoral Ward/Division: Brimington South

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Chesterfield St Mary and All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument is a motte or castle mound and comprises a roughly circular
hemispherical mound with a base diameter of 36m and a maximum height on the
south-west side of 2m. The level top of the mound measures 20m by 25m and,
from its appearance, is interpreted as the site of a shell keep; a type of
castle keep in which timber buildings were arranged round the inside of a
circular wall or palisade. In addition to the motte, there would originally
have been a bailey or outer enclosure in which further domestic and service
buildings would have existed together with corrals for stock and horses.
Although archaeological remains relating to the bailey are likely to survive
in the surrounding parkland, they are not included in the scheduling as their
extent and state of preservation are not sufficiently understood.
There are several documentary references to a castle in this area, the first
dating to 1339 when the fieldname 'castulfurlong' was noted. In 1468 and 1502,
references were made to 'le Castell Hyll' and 'Tapton Castle'. In addition,
the site also appears on Christopher Saxton's survey of 1577 and J Speed's
map of Derbyshire of 1610. Furthermore, Leland, writing in the first half of
the 16th century, tells of one Robert de Ferrers who, in 1266, was taken
prisoner at the 'castrum de Chestrefelde', a place assumed to be Tapton
Castle. This event occurred during the period of constitutional crisis and
civil strife which took place in the 1250s and 1260s between a group of barons
and Henry III. It is possible that Tapton Castle was constructed at this time,
possibly as an adulterine fort; that is, one built without the king's
permission. It is in a strategic location, overlooking the Rother Valley, and
in its elevated position would have commanded views over a wide area. The
rebellion ended in c.1267, after which time the castle may have fallen into
disuse. In the late 17th century the site was incorporated into the grounds of
Tapton House which is now a Grade II* Listed Building. The walls round the
edge of the monument are excluded from the scheduling although the ground
underneath is included.

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.

Although Tapton Castle motte has been disturbed by planting, sufficient of the
monument remains intact for archaeological remains relating to the structures
on the motte to be preserved.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cameron, K, Placenames of Derbyshire, (1959), 312
Hart, CR, North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey to AD 1500, (1981)
Saxton, Christopher, (1577)
Title: Map of Derbyshire
Source Date: 1610

Source: Historic England

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