Castle Knob, Castle Gresley

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameCastle Knob, Castle Gresley
Alternative NamesGreisely
Historic CountryDerbyshire
Modern AuthorityDerbyshire
1974 AuthorityDerbyshire
Civil ParishCastle Gresley

Fine motte and semilunar bailey, although altered by modern earthworks. Motte 20' high but site on hill top. The castle is documented in 1371-5.

May have been built at this time by William de Gresley, the eldest son of Nigel de Stafford (the place-name Gresley does not appear before c. 1125, that of Castle Gresley before 1252, and it is clear that Hearthcote (now represented by Hearthcote Farm) was the Domesday name for the vill. This late appearance lends support to the suggestion that the castle was built during the period of the Anarchy. (Turbutt)

The monument includes the motte and three baileys of Castle Gresley motte and bailey castle. The centrally placed motte is a steep-sided conical mound measuring c.4m high. Its summit is roughly circular and slightly raised around the edge, indicating that it was the site of a stone wall or timber palisade. The overall width of the summit is c.12m but, on the north-east side, there is a raised circular platform measuring c.5m wide. This is interpreted as the site of a tower or keep. Round the base of the motte is a 10m wide ditch with a current depth of c.2m. This feature is best preserved on the south, east and west sides of the motte but also exists as a buried feature on the north side where it has been partially filled in with earth from the adjacent modern housing development. At its east end, the ditch is truncated by a 2m wide bank which connects the motte to a 3m high mound on the other side of the ditch. This second mound or outwork would have been the site of another tower and may have guarded the entrance into the castle. The motte and the outwork occupy the north side of the central bailey which is the largest of the three enclosures. It is divided from the northern bailey by a 2m deep linear ditch which is c.5m wide and from the southern bailey by a short scarp and a 5m wide berm or terrace

There are no earthwork ramparts round the edges of the site but all three baileys are delimited by steep scarps which would, originally, have been crowned by timber palisades. The buried remains of a variety of domestic and ancillary buildings will survive within the baileys and will include the lord's hall and other living accommodation, kitchens, workshops, stabling and corrals for stock and horses. The castle is in an elevated position and would, originally, have commanded wide views over the countryside between the River Trent to the north and the River Mease to the south. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

The castle is unusual in being a mile west of the parish church. There is a Swainspark place name to the south east of the castle, which is orientated in this direction, although I can find no other evidence to suggest a park here. Turbett's dating to the Anarchy (1135-1134) is part of received wisdom about castle dating and should be considered with care. The other evidence presented does suggest a mid to late C12 date but the foundation of a new manorial centre may have nothing to do with the political unrest of the Anarchy. Castle Gresley motte and bailey castle is an extensive and well-preserved example which has suffered only minimal disturbance and therefore retains intact archaeological remains throughout.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSK279179
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Photo by Andrew Herrett All Rights Reserved
Photo by Andrew Herrett All Rights Reserved
Photo by Andrew Herrett All Rights Reserved
Photo by Andrew Herrett All Rights Reserved
Photo by Andrew Herrett All Rights Reserved
Photo by Andrew Herrett All Rights Reserved
Photo by Andrew Herrett All Rights Reserved
Photo by Andrew Herrett All Rights Reserved
Photo by Andrew Herrett All Rights Reserved

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  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of the East Midlands (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 17
  • Turbutt, Gladwyn, 1999, A History of Derbyshire Vol. 2 (Merton Priory Press) Chapter 8 note 5
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 52 (slight)
  • Salter, Mike, 1993, Midlands Castles (Birmingham) p. 47
  • Smith, Michael E., 1992, Castles and Manor Houses in and around Derbyshire (Derby)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 109
  • Cox, J.C., 1905, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Derbyshire Vol. 1 p. 379 online copy
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 468 online copy