Morley Moor Mound

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameMorley Moor Mound
Alternative NamesMorley House Farm; The Mound; Toot Hill
Historic CountryDerbyshire
Modern AuthorityDerbyshire
1974 AuthorityDerbyshire
Civil ParishMorley

'On Morley Moor, about 450 yards to the west of the church, is a large mound, now bearing many well-grown trees, and still nearly surrounded by a well filled moat'. It is considered to be a 'very perfect specimen' of a Castle Mount, and has a nearly level platform on the top, about 15 ft in diameter. 'Owing to the hedge being broken down, the lower parts of the mound are rapidly crumbling away under the tread of cattle and children' (in 1905) (VCH).

The Moated Mound near Morley beside the way from the Sacheverell Almshouses is locally called the Toot Hill. The editor of the Derbyshire Archaeological Journal in 1935 suggested that the mound might be 'the ancient moot of the Morleston Hundred' (Tudor).

'Moated Mound… probably a fortified dwelling or other stronghold' (Pevsner).

A large conical mound, tree covered and partly surrounded by a ditch/pond. It does not look like a motte and the top is too small to have held any form of structure; similarly, it cannot be a gazebo or mill mound. The feature is not in a strongly defensive position and its purpose was probably ornamental. (F1 FDC 02-JAN-67). (Derbyshire HER)

Although the motte south-west of Morley House Farm has been disturbed by scrub, the monument survives well and is sufficiently intact for archaeological remains relating to the structure of the motte and the associated keep to be preserved. In addition, well preserved organic and environmental remains will survive in the waterfilled ditch.

This monument, known locally as The Mound, is a medieval motte and includes a flat-topped conical mound surrounded by a 6-9m wide waterfilled ditch which is crossed by a causeway on the south-east side. The motte is 15m wide at its base and c.4m high and very steep-sided. A timber tower or keep would originally have stood on the motte whose top is c.5m wide

Formerly there may also have been an attached bailey or outer enclosure which would have contained ancillary buildings and pens for cattle and horses. There is no visible trace of such a feature in the ploughed fields surrounding the monument and so this area has not been included in the scheduling. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

The mound clearly shows signs of being altered with a spiral path to the top but the location, at other end of village from church, is not untypical of a medieval manorial centre (there is a manorial centre by the church but a second manorial centre is a possibility) and this does seem to have started as a motte, although the lack of a bailey suggests mainly a symbolic mound, showing the knightly status of the lord of the manor. The surrounding, water filled, ditch may be defensive or merely represent obtaining the soil to build the mound from the closest possible location. Suggestions that this was a 'watch tower' for Horsley castle (Pritchard) have to address the question of how such a watch would be manned and funded.

- 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 ReferenceSK391409
Latitude52.9648818969727
Longitude-1.41802000999451
Eastings439190
Northings340990
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All rights reserved
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All rights reserved
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All rights reserved
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All rights reserved
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All rights reserved
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All rights reserved
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All rights reserved
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All rights reserved
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All rights reserved

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Books

  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of the East Midlands (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 23
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 110
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus revised by Elizabeth Williamson, 1978, Buildings of England: Derbyshire (Harmondsworth) p. 188
  • Cox, J.C., 1905, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Derbyshire Vol. 1 p. 375 (plan) online copy

Journals

  • Pritchard, C., 1998, 'Morley Mounds: The Horsley Connection' Derbyshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 118
  • Tudor, T.L., 1935, 'Minor monuments and lesser antiquities of Derbyshire (2nd list)' Derbyshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 56 p. 83

Other

  • English Heritage. 1994. Schedule Entry: Motte south-west of Morley House Farm. 23301