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were superseded by other types of castle.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 Kimberworth example is an unusual and early example of its class. Whilst
part of the bailey has been obscured, the surviving area and the motte are
largely undisturbed and hence retain considerable archaeological information
concerning the method of construction and use. The site is also closely
associated with the nearby moated manor house.
Kimberworth motte and bailey castle consists of an elliptical motte,
orientated east-west and measuring c.40m x 15m, and a small section of
bailey surviving to the south between the motte and the modern houses.
Traces of the ditch surrounding the motte are also discernible to the north
and west, but further remains of the bailey are now obscured by housing
development. Situated on a natural rise above the River Rother, it was one
of several in the region to command the Rother valley and may have dominated
the manor of Kimberworth since before the Norman Conquest. After the
Conquest, the manor was part of the Honour of Tickhill and held by Roger de
Busli and his descendents until the mid or late thirteenth century. Some
time prior to this, the site was abandoned in favour of the moated manor
house, 250m downslope to the south, where an extensive complex of thirteenth
century and later buildings have been recently excavated.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.