Repton; The Buries

Has been described as a Rejected Timber Castle (Motte)

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameRepton; The Buries
Alternative Names
Historic CountryDerbyshire
Modern AuthorityDerbyshire
1974 AuthorityDerbyshire
Civil ParishRepton

The site comprises an unconventional and complex series of earthworks of indeterminate origin and function. The dominant feature is a large conical mound, c . 11m wide, artificially raised c . lm above the surrounding ground level, with a flat summit c . 5m in diameter and entirely circumvallated by a ditch. A smaller, subsidiary mound with a base diameter of c . 9m lies to the east, approximately at the centre of the surrounding enclosure. This feature comprises a rectangular earthwork enclosure with rounded corners, defined on all sides by a low bank and shallow external ditch. The feature is oriented approximately east-west, with maximum dimensions of c. 72 x 54m. At least three linear earthworks oriented east-west lie within the enclosure, representing the vestiges of ridge and furrow cultivation; their parallel alignment with ridge and furrow beyond the enclosure would favour the suggestion that they antedate the enclosure. Overall there is little to recommend the thesis that the site may denote an early castle - this suggestion apparently based on the misconception that either or both of the mounds are mottes; function as an animal pound in times of flood is far more credible.

Excavation: Minor excavations are known to have taken place on the mounds by T. Bateman in the mid 19th century, revealing them to have be of pebbly gravel and sand construction whilst a small volume of coarse pottery, alleged to be of Romano-British date, was recovered. Further investigation occurred by W.

Molyneaux in 1869, although nothing other than the recovery of a worked flake was noted. More substantial excavation took place in 1910, comprising a north-south trench across the entire site, further trenches across each of the two mounds and excavation at all four of the interior angles of the outer enclosure

The ditch surrounding the large mound was demonstrated to be U-shaped in profile, and the excavators suggest it to have been constructed from spoil derived from the ditch. The finds were generally post-medieval in date, including 15th to 17th-century pottery, tile, and a coin of Charles II, although a single yellow-glazed sherd from the slope of the larger mound was considered medieval, and finds of animal bone and a nail also recorded. The comer of a stone-built structure was revealed in the south-west comer of the enclosure. (Creighton 1998)

Also suggested as a rabbit warren (pillow mound). In Guilbert, G,. 2004, 'Borough Hill, Walton-upon-Trent - if not a hillfort, then what?' Derbyshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 124 p. 242-257 reports "The name 'buries' was apparently once applied to what are now called pillow-mounds." How widespread was this use of the term 'buries' ? Just north Midlands or wider? How many 'bury' etc. place-names relate to that use as opposed to the Saxon 'fortified site' origin normally given to bury, bur, brough place-names?

Gatehouse Comments

King, presumably working from the VCH, clearly had doubts about this as a castle site but listed it as possible. However, it can be safely rejected as a castle site or a medieval residential site of any type. There were no signs of permanent occupation and the earthwork may well have been a refuge for livestock during floods combined with a stock enclosure. If built of spoil from nearby ruins then any pottery finds may well be out of context. The form of the the stone-built structure in the corner is unclear but a field-barn would be a distinct possibility. Nearby Repton bridge was an important crossing of the Trent and there may have been a need to manage and corral livestock being driven to market before it crossed this bridge.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSK298278
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  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of the East Midlands (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 29 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 111 (possible)
  • Cox, J.C., 1905, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Derbyshire Vol. 1 p. 386 online copy
  • Hipkins, 1899 (2edn), Repton and its Neighbourhood p. 3 plate iv


  • Simpson, F.G. and Auden, G.A., 1913, 'Excavations at the buries, Repton' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 70 p. 83-94 online copy


  • Dave Barrett, Gill Stroud, 2009, Extensive Urban Survey - Derbyshire (English Heritage) Download copy
  • Creighton, O.H., 1998, Castles and Landscapes: An Archaeological Survey of Yorkshire and the East Midlands (PhD Thesis University of Leicester) p. 346 online copy