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Twelfth century tower keep castle, including sites of an eleventh century motte and bailey castle, an Anglian cemetery and a Romano-British settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Duffield, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 52.9926 / 52°59'33"N

Longitude: -1.4899 / 1°29'23"W

OS Eastings: 434335.766537

OS Northings: 344044.442985

OS Grid: SK343440

Mapcode National: GBR 6D2.85F

Mapcode Global: WHDGM.21SL

Entry Name: Twelfth century tower keep castle, including sites of an eleventh century motte and bailey castle, an Anglian cemetery and a Romano-British settlement

Scheduled Date: 8 August 1957

Last Amended: 3 January 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015109

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23334

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Duffield

Built-Up Area: Duffield

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Duffield St Alkmund

Church of England Diocese: Derby


Duffield Castle is located on high ground overlooking the confluence of the
rivers Derwent and Ecclesbourne and the town of Duffield to the south. The
monument includes part of the remains of the 12th century tower keep castle
together with those of the 11th century motte and bailey castle which preceded
it, and also part of the remains of an Anglian cemetery and a Romano-British
settlement which formerly occupied the area. Also included are the remains of
a small medieval building constructed after the demolition of the castle in
the early 13th century.
The land surrounding the monument was open until the early 20th century but
is now occupied by access roads and housing dating largely to the 1920s.
Gardening activity and small-scale excavations south west of the castle mound
and in the gardens of some houses along Avenue Road have led to considerable
quantities of Romano-British pottery being recovered. It is therefore clear
that further remains relating to the earlier phases of occupation will survive
in the suburbanised area. However, these have not been included in the
scheduling except where the south west ditch and a small part of the bailey
lie alongside the former driveway from Lime Avenue to Castle House, as their
extent and state of preservation is not sufficiently understood.
In addition, in 1887, when the site of the castle was described by the
Rev J Charles Cox, it was said to include a bailey or outer enclosure west of
the motte or castle mound. This bailey has also been partly covered by urban
development. Although much of it survives within the gardens of houses on Lime
Avenue and Castle Hill, it too is largely excluded from the scheduling as its
full extent is unclear. However, Cox described the bailey as being separated
from the castle mound by ditches on the north west and south west sides.
Although the north west ditch no longer survives as a visible feature, having
been buried beneath later housing, part of the south west ditch, which was
partly excavated in 1957, can be seen alongside the driveway which formerly
led from Lime Avenue to Castle House. The remnant of the castle bailey which
flanks this ditch is included in the scheduling. It is considered likely, on
excavation evidence, to retain Romano-British remains in addition to those of
service buildings and other associated features of the medieval castle, such
as workshops and corrals for stock and horses.
Knowledge of the site of Duffield Castle derives principally from three
part excavations carried out by Cox in 1886, Williamson in 1931 and Manby in
1957. The first revealed the foundations of a massive square sandstone tower
built on top of a natural promontory which had been levelled and scarped to
create a 4.5m high motte. The ground floor of this stone keep was divided by a
wall indicating that it may have been an example of the rarer type of tower
keep known as a hall keep. In the north west and south east corners were the
remains of newel or spiral stairs while, in the south west corner, was a well.
Entry to the keep was gained on the west side via a forebuilding or entrance
annexe which would, originally, have contained a staircase leading to the
first floor. Near the north west corner of the keep were found the bones of a
young woman together with an amber bead, part of a brooch of the type called a
cruciform fibula, and a stone spindle whorl. These grave-goods indicate that
the burial dated to the sixth or seventh century AD and that the levelling of
the area to create a motte had partly disturbed an Anglian cemetery of which
further remains will survive both inside and outside the area of the
scheduling. Cox also recovered large quantities of Romano-British pottery
which indicated a Roman phase of occupation. Further Roman pottery was found
south of the motte during the 1931 excavation.
In the course of the 1957 excavation, a number of trenches were dug across the
outer features of the castle to determine the nature of any defensive works.
The bailey ditch on the south west side was described by Manby as being 40
feet (12m) wide across the top, 16 feet (4.8m) wide across the bottom and
originally 15 feet (4.5m) deep. Material dumped and washed into it has reduced
the visible depth to about 2m at its north west end though, at its south east
end, it appears to drop to its original depth. From here it may formerly have
extended round the south side of the castle mound through the garden of Castle
House though this is not entirely clear. Finds recovered from the excavated
ditch silts included Romano-British Derbyshire Ware, medieval pottery and a
piece of a Roman flanged roof tile. Also on the south west side, between the
ditch and the base of the motte, Manby noted a berm or terrace which he
investigated and found to contain more Romano-British pottery very close to
the surface, indicating that the area had been undisturbed by the construction
of the castle and therefore retains further evidence of early occupation of
the site. At its north west end, round the base of the motte, the terrace had
been cut into during the Middle Ages by a shallow ditch which had become
silted up and contained more Romano-British and medieval pot, a piece of daub,
corroded iron and also a sherd of Saxo-Norman Stamford Ware pottery which
would have been contemporary with the motte and bailey castle. Flanking the
south west side of this inner ditch was a short stretch of banking which was
found to include a post hole on the side facing into the inner ditch, a V-
sectioned gully below and, at the south east end, two wedge-shaped sandstone
masonry blocks which may have come from a gate arch. Medieval pottery
recovered from this bank dated it to c.1250. A trench was also taken across
the interior of the stone keep and the post holes of the earlier 11th century
timber keep identified. Also found was a midden and the post holes and rubble
foundations of a small building which Manby describes as post-dating the
demolition of the stone castle.
The excavated remains therefore indicate several phases of activity, the
earliest of which dates to the third century AD. This was followed in the
sixth or seventh century by a period of Anglian use, apparently as a
pre-Christian cemetery. In c.1080, a motte and bailey castle with a timber
keep was built. This work was most likely carried out by Henry de Ferrers who
died in 1089. The timber castle was probably demolished in 1173 following the
implication of William de Ferrers in the rebellion against King Henry II and
the recorded loss to the Crown of his castles at Tutbury and Duffield. By
1177, William was back in favour and was restored to his estates at Duffield.
It is probable that the construction of the stone keep began at about this
time. There is no evidence, however, that the rest of the castle was rebuilt
in stone and the next elaboration of the defences did not occur until c.1250
when the defensive bank was raised and a stone gatehouse possibly constructed.
This activity coincided with the rebellion of Robert de Ferrers against King
Henry III which resulted in the capture of Robert at a battle near
Chesterfield in 1266 and the seizure of his estates by the Crown. Duffield
Castle was subsequently demolished and the site granted to Prince Edmund, Earl
of Lancaster. Masonry from the site was subsequently removed leaving only the
foundations. After 1266, enough stone was robbed to construct a small
Several features are excluded from the scheduling; these are all modern walls
and fencing, the cap covering the well, the surface of the driveway along the
south west side of the monument and the greenhouse and timber garages at the
end of the driveway; the ground beneath all these exclusions is, however,

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A tower keep castle is a strongly fortified residence in which the keep is the
principal defensive feature. The keep may be free-standing or surrounded by a
defensive enclosure; they are normally square in shape, although other shapes
are known. Internally they have several floors providing accommodation of
various types. If the keep has an attached enclosure this will normally be
defined by a defensive wall, frequently with an external ditch. Access into
the enclosure was provided by a bridge across the ditch, allowing entry via a
gatehouse. Additional buildings, including stabling for animals and workshops,
may be found within the enclosure. Tower keep castles were built throughout
the medieval period, from immediately after the Norman Conquest to the mid-
15th century, with a peak in the middle of the 12th century. A few were
constructed on the sites of earlier earthwork castle types but most were new
creations. They provided strongly fortified residences for the king or leading
families and occur in both urban or rural situations. Tower keep castles are
widely dispersed throughout England with a major concentration on the Welsh
border. They are rare nationally with only 104 recorded examples. Considerable
diversity of form is exhibited with no two examples being exactly alike. With
other castle types, they are major medieval monument types which, belonging to
the highest levels of society, frequently acted as major administrative
centres and formed the foci for developing settlement patterns. Castles
generally provide an emotive and evocative link to the past and can provide a
valuable educational resource, both with respect to medieval warfare and
defence, and to wider aspects of medieval society. All examples retaining
significant remains of medieval date are considered to be nationally

Duffield Castle is a reasonably well-documented example of a tower keep castle
overlying an urban motte and bailey castle dating to the early years of the
Norman occupation. Its strategic and administrative importance lasted from the
11th to the mid-13th century, during which time it played an important role in
the political history of the country and was associated with a leading
aristocratic family of the Middle Ages, the de Ferrers. Although the tower
keep castle does not survive as a standing structure, limited excavation
carried out in key areas has demonstrated that the buried remains of other
features survive well and incorporate remains relating not only to the earlier
and later castles, such as their defensive earthworks, but to periods of
Anglian and Roman occupation. On the south west side of the monument, there is
an area demonstrated to contain Roman remains which has not been disturbed by
the construction of the castle and will therefore retain further intact
archaeological deposits of that period. Outside the ditch on this side of the
castle mound is a remnant of the castle bailey which has suffered little
disturbance and will retain further archaeological evidence of the medieval
and earlier periods of occupation.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cox, C, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Duffield Castle: Its History, Site And Recently Found Remains, (1887), 118-178
Cox, C, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Duffield Castle: Its History, Site And Recently Found Remains, (1887), 118-178
Manby, T C, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Duffield Castle Excavations 1957, , Vol. 78, (1959), 1-21
Williamson, F, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Roman And Other Remains Found At Duffield, , Vol. 52, (1933), 107-112

Source: Historic England

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