Ancient Monuments

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Castle Hill motte and bailey castle

A Scheduled Monument in Holmesfield, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.2948 / 53°17'41"N

Longitude: -1.5231 / 1°31'23"W

OS Eastings: 431883.05093

OS Northings: 377638.523018

OS Grid: SK318776

Mapcode National: GBR KZTB.1M

Mapcode Global: WHCCX.KGX0

Entry Name: Castle Hill motte and bailey castle

Scheduled Date: 29 December 1952

Last Amended: 15 September 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011211

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23290

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Holmesfield

Built-Up Area: Holmesfield

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Dronfield St John Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument is a medieval motte and bailey castle and includes the motte or
castle mound, the defensive ditch round the base of the motte on the north
side and the bailey on the south and west sides. A small part of the motte has
been disturbed by the construction of Castle Bank Cottage. This area is
therefore not included in the scheduling. The part of the bailey which
originally extended eastward into the area now occupied by the parish church
hall of St Swithin and the landscaped garden south of Castle Bank Cottage is
also not included in the scheduling because although archaeological remains
are likely to survive here, their extent and state of preservation is not
sufficiently understood for them to be included as part of the scheduling.
The motte is a 3m high flat-topped mound measuring c.30m across the summit.
Its appearance indicates that it was 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. To the north the motte is defended by a 15m wide
ditch with a current depth of c.2m. On the west side, the ditch terminates on
the edge of the bailey and it is believed that the same arrangement existed on
the east side where the modern church hall now overlies the remains. The
bailey originally extended in an arc round the south side of the motte. It
occupies a level area defined by a steep scarp and would have been enclosed by
a timber palisade constructed along the top of the scarp. The buried remains
of a variety of domestic and ancillary buildings will survive within the
bailey and will include the lord's hall and other living accommodation,
kitchens, workshops, stables and pens for stock and horses. The castle was the
centre of a medieval manor and was probably abandoned by its owners or tenants
in favour of the later medieval moated site 400m to the north-east. Excluded
from the scheduling are the boundary walls within the monument and the
outbuildings and telegraph pole behind Castle Bank Cottage, although the
ground beneath 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.

The monument at Holmesfield is a reasonably well-preserved example of a small
motte and bailey castle which retains substantial areas of intact
archaeological remains. The site is also of interest for the evidence it
provides of the development of the medieval manor at Holmesfield through its
relationship with the later medieval moated site and the post-medieval manor
house which now survives as Hall Farm.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hart, CR, North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey to AD 1500, (1981)

Source: Historic England

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