Castle Hill motte and bailey castle


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Castle Hill motte and bailey castle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North East Derbyshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 31885 77640

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

The monument at Holmesfield is a reasonably well-preserved example of a small motte and bailey castle which retains substantial areas of intact archaeological remains. The site is also of interest for the evidence it provides of the development of the medieval manor at Holmesfield through its relationship with the later medieval moated site and the post-medieval manor house which now survives as Hall Farm.


The monument is a medieval motte and bailey castle and includes the motte or castle mound, the defensive ditch round the base of the motte on the north side and the bailey on the south and west sides. A small part of the motte has been disturbed by the construction of Castle Bank Cottage. This area is therefore not included in the scheduling. The part of the bailey which originally extended eastward into the area now occupied by the parish church hall of St Swithin and the landscaped garden south of Castle Bank Cottage is also not included in the scheduling because although archaeological remains are likely to survive here, their extent and state of preservation is not sufficiently understood for them to be included as part of the scheduling. The motte is a 3m high flat-topped mound measuring c.30m across the summit. Its appearance indicates that it was 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. To the north the motte is defended by a 15m wide ditch with a current depth of c.2m. On the west side, the ditch terminates on the edge of the bailey and it is believed that the same arrangement existed on the east side where the modern church hall now overlies the remains. The bailey originally extended in an arc round the south side of the motte. It occupies a level area defined by a steep scarp and would have been enclosed by a timber palisade constructed along the top of the scarp. The buried remains of a variety of domestic and ancillary buildings will survive within the bailey and will include the lord's hall and other living accommodation, kitchens, workshops, stables and pens for stock and horses. The castle was the centre of a medieval manor and was probably abandoned by its owners or tenants in favour of the later medieval moated site 400m to the north-east. Excluded from the scheduling are the boundary walls within the monument and the outbuildings and telegraph pole behind Castle Bank Cottage, although the ground beneath 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Hart, CR, North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey to AD 1500, (1981)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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