Holmesfield Castle Hill

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are earthwork remains

NameHolmesfield Castle Hill
Alternative Names
Historic CountryDerbyshire
Modern AuthorityDerbyshire
1974 AuthorityDerbyshire
Civil ParishHolmesfield

An artificial mound known as Castle Hill, just to the back of the village school, Holmesfield, seems to have been a small example of a ditch-encircled mount, without a bailey "Castle Hill" - Scheduled. This castle mound has been partially destroyed on the S.E. by building. The top of the mound is 18.0m in diameter, and the centre is slightly sunken, but there is no trace of a building. The surrounding ditch now only remains on the northern side - greatest width 15.0m, depth 1.2m below land level and 3.2m below mound (F1 JHO 12-DEC-52) (Derbyshire HER)

The monument at Holmesfield is a reasonably well-preserved example of a small motte and bailey castle which retains substantial areas of intact archaeological remains. The site is also of interest for the evidence it provides of the development of the medieval manor at Holmesfield through its relationship with the later medieval moated site and the post-medieval manor house which now survives as Hall Farm.

The monument is a medieval motte and bailey castle and includes the motte or castle mound, the defensive ditch round the base of the motte on the north side and the bailey on the south and west sides. A small part of the motte has been disturbed by the construction of Castle Bank Cottage. This area is therefore not included in the scheduling. The part of the bailey which originally extended eastward into the area now occupied by the parish church hall of St Swithin and the landscaped garden south of Castle Bank Cottage is also not included in the scheduling because although archaeological remains are likely to survive here, their extent and state of preservation is not sufficiently understood for them to be included as part of the scheduling. The motte is a 3m high flat-topped mound measuring c.30m across the summit. Its appearance indicates that it was the site of a shell keep; a type of castle keep in which timber buildings were arranged round the inside of a circular wall or palisade

To the north the motte is defended by a 15m wide ditch with a current depth of c.2m. On the west side, the ditch terminates on the edge of the bailey and it is believed that the same arrangement existed on the east side where the modern church hall now overlies the remains. The bailey originally extended in an arc round the south side of the motte. It occupies a level area defined by a steep scarp and would have been enclosed by a timber palisade constructed along the top of the scarp. The buried remains of a variety of domestic and ancillary buildings will survive within the bailey and will include the lord's hall and other living accommodation, kitchens, workshops, stables and pens for stock and horses. The castle was the centre of a medieval manor and was probably abandoned by its owners or tenants in favour of the later medieval moated site 400m to the north-east. (Scheduling Report)

Castle Hill at Holmesfield, possibly built by Roger Deincourt (younger son of Walter Deincourt the Domesday tenant-in-chief), may be of this period {the Anarchy}. (Turbutt)

Gatehouse Comments

Turbett association of the site with the Anarchy is probably part of received wisdom rather than anything based on real evidence. The use of the term 'shell keep' in the scheduling report is ambiguous; this is usually (exclusively) used to refer to a masonry wall although the report seems to be suggesting a timber pallisade. The location next to the church may well suggest a site dating back to pre-Conquest times, although the motte is likely to be late C11 or C12 date.

- 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 ReferenceSK318776
Latitude53.2948417663574
Longitude-1.52295005321503
Eastings431890
Northings377640
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
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 Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Peter Cope All Rights Reserved
Photo by Peter Cope All Rights Reserved
Photo by Peter Cope All Rights Reserved
Photo by Peter Cope All Rights Reserved
Photo by Peter Cope All Rights Reserved
Photo by Peter Cope All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of the East Midlands (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 22
  • Turbutt, Gladwyn, 1999, A History of Derbyshire Vol. 2 (Merton Priory Press) Chap 8 note 5
  • 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
  • Hart, C.R., 1981, The North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey to AD1500 (Derbyshire Archaeological Trust) p. 146
  • Cox, J.C., 1905, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Derbyshire Vol. 1 p. 374 online copy
  • Armitage, Ella S., 1905, A key to English antiquites with special reference to the Sheffield and Rotherham district (London: J.M. Dent and Co) p. 57 online copy

Other

  • English Heritage. 1993. Scheduling notification: Castle Hill motte and bailey castle. 23290.