Worksop Castle: eleventh century motte castle and twelfth century shell keep castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009295

Date first listed: 08-Aug-1930

Date of most recent amendment: 26-Nov-1992


Ordnance survey map of Worksop Castle: eleventh century motte castle and twelfth century shell keep castle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1009295 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 24-Jan-2019 at 02:24:16.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Nottinghamshire

District: Bassetlaw (District Authority)

National Grid Reference: SK 58280 78829


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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.

Between the Conquest and the mid-thirteenth century, usually during the twelfth century, a number of mottes and other earthwork castles were remodelled in stone so that the timber palisade was replaced by a thick defensive wall known as a shell keep. The shell keep would have carried a timber wall-walk and timber buildings would have been built round the interior. The castle at Worksop is an example of this though, now, only the earthwork remains survive. These, however, are reasonably well-preserved and will retain significant archaeological remains relating to the structures built on the motte and on the adjacent outwork.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The castle at Worksop is situated on a sandstone promontory overlooking the valley of the River Ryton. The monument includes the motte or castle mound, part of the surrounding ditch and an outwork on the west side. A bailey or outer enclosure would formerly have extended into the surrounding area and been the location of features such as ancillary and garrison buildings and corrals for stock and horses. Although archaeological remains relating to the bailey are likely to survive beneath modern urban development, they have not been included in the scheduling as their extent and state of preservation is not sufficiently understood. The growth of the modern town has concealed the strategic location of the castle, but originally it was built to command the surrounding land and the marshy river valley to the north. According to Domesday Book, the land was held by the Saxon lord Elsi prior to 1066 and it is believed that a Saxon fortification may have preceded the Norman castle. The first Norman castle was probably built by Roger de Busli in the late eleventh century. Initially it would have comprised a timber keep or stockade but this had been rebuilt in stone by the end of the twelfth century under the lordship of the de Lovetots. The form of the stone castle is not fully understood because, by the sixteenth century, it had been demolished and only the foundations will now survive on the castle mound. The appearance of the motte, however, indicates that it would have been a shell keep. The motte is a flat-topped earthwork roughly 50m in diameter and stands between 10m and 12m high above the base of the surrounding ditch. On the north-east side, erosion has exposed the construction material and shows that an artificial layer 2-2.5m thick, was built on top of natural sandstone roughly 8m thick. The ditch on the south and west sides, the only areas where it has not been encroached upon by modern development, is c.10m wide. On the west side it is flanked by an oval mound c.3m high and measuring 10m by 15m. This outwork would have been the location of a gate-tower leading to a drawbridge over the ditch and would have been the main point of access into the keep. A number of features within the area are excluded from the scheduling. These are the commemorative limestone block on top of the castle mound, benches, the metal railing along the north side of the motte, a telegraph pole, the surface of the path from Norfolk Street to the car park south of the monument, the steps up to the car park, all boundary walling and fencing and the line of bollards along the south-east edge of the monument which divide it from the back lane behind the houses on Norfolk Street. The ground beneath these features is, however, included in the scheduling.

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


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 13395

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Nottinghamshire: Volume I, (1906), 293
'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in Transactions of the Thoroton Society: Volume 59, , Vol. 59, (1955), 98-9
Leland, J, Itinerary 1535-43, (1907)

End of official listing