Bothamsall motte and bailey castle and hollow way


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009299

Date first listed: 09-Apr-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Dec-1992


Ordnance survey map of Bothamsall motte and bailey castle and hollow way
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Nottinghamshire

District: Bassetlaw (District Authority)

Parish: Bothamsall

National Grid Reference: SK 67140 73183, SK 67151 73263


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

Reasons for Designation

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Bothamsall motte and bailey castle is a reasonably well-preserved example of an adulterine fort built to command a river valley. Although the bailey and its defensive earthworks have been partially disturbed by ploughing and gravel extraction, sufficient remains intact for the structure of the earthworks to be preserved and also for the remains of ancillary features such as garrison buildings and corrals for stock and horses to be retained. The motte has survived largely intact and will retain archaeological evidence of the structure that formerly stood on the top.


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


The monument includes the motte and bailey of Bothamsall Castle and the hollow way leading into the bailey. The monument is included within two areas which are separated by the road from Bothamsall to Warsop. To the north of the road is a semi-circular section of the bailey measuring c.150m from east to west by c.50m from north to south. Ploughing has gradually levelled the features within this part of the monument so that the only remaining visible feature is a very slight bank round the perimeter of the bailey, situated above the natural slope. The buried remains of ancillary features such as buildings and enclosures will survive, however, below the depth reached by the plough. The larger part of the monument lies to the south of the road and includes the motte, or castle mound, the rest of the bailey and the remains of a sunken track or hollow way leading from the south. This part of the bailey is a semi-circular area measuring c.170m east to west by c.80m north to south and is enclosed by a series of defensive earthworks. They can be seen to comprise a single rampart to the west and east and a double rampart to the south divided by a berm or terrace. Approximately 15m south of the foot of the double rampart is the edge of a steep slope down into the valley of the River Meden. This slope may have been deliberately scarped when the castle was built in order to increase the gradient and to form an extra line of defence. This, however, has not been confirmed and so the scarp is not included in the scheduling. However, a sunken track leading from the edge of this scarp towards the western end of the double rampart, then proceeding through the ramparts into the bailey is included in the scheduling. Where it lies outside the ramparts, this track is flanked by low earthworks which indicate that it was a covered way protected by walls or palisades. Within the bailey, at its western end, is the motte. This is a steep sided conical mound measuring c.5m high and surrounded by a 5m wide ditch which is currently c.2m deep. The top of the mound is roughly circular and enclosed by a bank or parapet measuring c.1m high by 1m wide. It encloses an area with a diameter of approximately 22m and will have been the site of a wall or palisade. This bank and the east side of the motte have been slightly disturbed by World War II Home Guard trenches, created to overlook the road. The castle itself was built to command the surrounding land and the marshy river valley to the south and may have been an adulterine castle; that is, one built without the king's permission. This probably occurred in the mid-twelfth century, during the period of civil strife between the factions of King Stephen and his rival for the throne, the Empress Matilda or Maud. Excluded from the scheduling are the boundary fences and gates flanking both constraint areas along the roadside, although the ground underneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


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

Legacy System number: 13398

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Nottinghamshire: Volume I, (1906), 305
'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in Transactions of the Thoroton Society: Volume 43, , Vol. 43, (1939), 6
'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in Transactions of the Thoroton Society: Volume 35, , Vol. 35, (1931), 1-3

End of official listing