Tapton Castle motte


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011210

Date first listed: 29-Dec-1952

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Sep-1993


Ordnance survey map of Tapton Castle motte
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Derbyshire

District: Chesterfield (District Authority)

National Grid Reference: SK 39162 72140


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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Although Tapton Castle motte has been disturbed by planting, sufficient of the monument remains intact for archaeological remains relating to the structures on the motte to be preserved.


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


The monument is a motte or castle mound and comprises a roughly circular hemispherical mound with a base diameter of 36m and a maximum height on the south-west side of 2m. The level top of the mound measures 20m by 25m and, from its appearance, is interpreted as 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. In addition to the motte, there would originally have been a bailey or outer enclosure in which further domestic and service buildings would have existed together with corrals for stock and horses. Although archaeological remains relating to the bailey are likely to survive in the surrounding parkland, they are not included in the scheduling as their extent and state of preservation are not sufficiently understood. There are several documentary references to a castle in this area, the first dating to 1339 when the fieldname 'castulfurlong' was noted. In 1468 and 1502, references were made to 'le Castell Hyll' and 'Tapton Castle'. In addition, the site also appears on Christopher Saxton's survey of 1577 and J Speed's map of Derbyshire of 1610. Furthermore, Leland, writing in the first half of the 16th century, tells of one Robert de Ferrers who, in 1266, was taken prisoner at the 'castrum de Chestrefelde', a place assumed to be Tapton Castle. This event occurred during the period of constitutional crisis and civil strife which took place in the 1250s and 1260s between a group of barons and Henry III. It is possible that Tapton Castle was constructed at this time, possibly as an adulterine fort; that is, one built without the king's permission. It is in a strategic location, overlooking the Rother Valley, and in its elevated position would have commanded views over a wide area. The rebellion ended in c.1267, after which time the castle may have fallen into disuse. In the late 17th century the site was incorporated into the grounds of Tapton House which is now a Grade II* Listed Building. The walls round the edge of the monument are excluded from the scheduling although the ground underneath is included.

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: 23289

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Cameron, K, Placenames of Derbyshire, (1959), 312
Hart, CR, North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey to AD 1500, (1981)
Saxton, Christopher, (1577)
Title: Map of Derbyshire Source Date: 1610 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing