Tutbury Town Defences

Has been described as a Possible Urban Defence

There are no visible remains

NameTutbury Town Defences
Alternative NamesIron Walls
Historic CountryStaffordshire
Modern AuthorityStaffordshire
1974 AuthorityStaffordshire
Civil ParishTutbury

Probably embanked as a dependency of castle. Had gates and barriers. Bond records possible Anglo-Saxon earthworks which he puts in his 'of no post-Conquest significance' list.

There is reason to believe that Tutbury had been fortified previous to this reign; for frequent mention is made in the records of those times of the bars (MSS. in Duchy Office) or barriers, and of the gates of the town, and traces are still visible of a vallum and foss, extending from the little park below the castle, completely round the town, to the Fleam or Old Dove, which washes the base of the castle hill on the opposite side: (A part of this fortification still bears the name of Iron Walls, but on what account is not known) if the whole of this area has been covered with buildings, the place must have been much more populous than it is at present; and that it was so, is rendered very probable from the traditionary accounts of its former size, as well as from the fact of many streets being mentioned in ancient writings, the very sites of which are now unknown. (e.g. Dove-street, Market-street, etc. in Duchy MSS) That a great depreciation took place in the value of land in this vicinity, is ascertained from the respective surveys which were made in the reigns of Henry the Fifth and Elizabeth; and no doubt this depreciation was caused by the castle being deserted by its owners, and the town consequently declining in population and importance. (Mosley)

Domesday Book records 42 traders in burgo circa castellum; there are clear traces of a small settlement enclosure to the south of the motte and bailey. (Bond, 2001)

Gatehouse Comments

Given map reference is for St Mary's, the parish church, which should be within the defensive circuit. However, it should be noted this was a Benedictine priory church and only became parochial after the priory was dissolved in 1538.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSK211291
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  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 157 (mention)
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 266
  • Bond, C.J., 1987, 'Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Defences' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 92-116 online copy
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 454
  • Wheatley, P., 1954, 'Stafffordshire' in H.C. Darby and I.B. Terrett, The Domesday Geography of Medieval England p. 207
  • Mosley, O., 1832, History of the Castle, Priory and Town of Tutbury (London: Simpkin and Marshall) p. 125-6 online copy


  • Creighton, Oliver, 2006, ''Castles of Communities': Medieval Town Defences in England; Wales and Gascony' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 75-86
  • Bond J., 2001, 'Earthen Castles, Outer Enclosures and the Earthworks at Ascott d'Oilly Castle, Oxfordshire' Oxoniensia Vol. 46 p. 65-6 (Appendix: Norman earthwork castles with failed towns in outer enclosures) online copy

Primary Sources