Motte and bailey castle on Castle Hill


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


Ordnance survey map of Motte and bailey castle on Castle Hill
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Derbyshire Dales (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SK 22120 68775

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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.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 Bakewell is a reasonably well preserved example of a small motte and bailey castle which has been partially excavated, providing valuable evidence of its construction. It retains substantial areas of intact archaeological deposits which will include the buried remains of buildings throughout the bailey and on the motte.


The monument on Castle Hill is a motte and bailey castle and includes a conical motte or castle mound with an attached oval bailey or outer enclosure. The motte, which is c.3m high and measures c.10m across the summit, is flanked to the north by a filled in ditch, visible as a slightly sunken feature, and is located on the west side of the bailey above a 5m high scarp cut into the hillside. The level bailey, which would have been the site of a variety of domestic and ancillary buildings in addition to pens for cattle and horses, is also defined by a scarp which may, originally, have been surmounted by a timber palisade. Remains relating to the occupation of the castle will have accumulated below the scarp on the south and east sides of the bailey, possibly in a ditch. Partial excavations of the site were carried out in 1969 and 1971 by M J Swanton. It was found that the motte was most likely to have been constructed in the late 12th or 13th centuries, shown by the remains of pottery found in the fill of the flanking ditch. Swanton also discovered that the motte was constructed in a series of layers comprising sand, rubble, clay and loam, and that the inner face of the ditch was revetted with limestone boulders. The precise history of the castle is unknown, but it may have been built by Ralf Gernon who was granted the previously royal manor of Bakewell by Richard I in the last decade of the 12th century. The stable at the south end of the site is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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.

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Books and journals
Swanton, M J, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Castle Hill, Bakewell, , Vol. 92, (1972)


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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