Ancient Monuments

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Motte and bailey castle on Castle Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Bakewell, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.2156 / 53°12'56"N

Longitude: -1.6702 / 1°40'12"W

OS Eastings: 422122.269785

OS Northings: 368779.361483

OS Grid: SK221687

Mapcode National: GBR 57S.JJK

Mapcode Global: WHCD7.9FXP

Entry Name: Motte and bailey castle on Castle Hill

Scheduled Date: 2 November 1950

Last Amended: 22 November 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013543

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23304

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Bakewell

Built-Up Area: Bakewell

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Bakewell All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument on Castle Hill is a motte and bailey castle and includes a
conical motte or castle mound with an attached oval bailey or outer enclosure.
The motte, which is c.3m high and measures c.10m across the summit, is flanked
to the north by a filled in ditch, visible as a slightly sunken feature, and
is located on the west side of the bailey above a 5m high scarp cut into the
hillside. The level bailey, which would have been the site of a variety of
domestic and ancillary buildings in addition to pens for cattle and horses, is
also defined by a scarp which may, originally, have been surmounted by a
timber palisade. Remains relating to the occupation of the castle will have
accumulated below the scarp on the south and east sides of the bailey,
possibly in a ditch.
Partial excavations of the site were carried out in 1969 and 1971 by M J
Swanton. It was found that the motte was most likely to have been constructed
in the late 12th or 13th centuries, shown by the remains of pottery found in
the fill of the flanking ditch. Swanton also discovered that the motte was
constructed in a series of layers comprising sand, rubble, clay and loam, and
that the inner face of the ditch was revetted with limestone boulders. The
precise history of the castle is unknown, but it may have been built by Ralf
Gernon who was granted the previously royal manor of Bakewell by Richard I in
the last decade of the 12th century.
The stable at the south end of the site is excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath it 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.

The monument at Bakewell is a reasonably well preserved example of a small
motte and bailey castle which has been partially excavated, providing valuable
evidence of its construction. It retains substantial areas of intact
archaeological deposits which will include the buried remains of buildings
throughout the bailey and on the motte.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Swanton, M J, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Castle Hill, Bakewell, , Vol. 92, (1972)

Source: Historic England

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