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Authority Historic England
Other Ref SM Cat. No. 182
Date assigned Wednesday, August 31, 1966
Date last amended Monday, January 17, 1994


REASONS FOR DESIGNATION Motte and bailey castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey, adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte-and-bailey castles acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte and bailey castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating their immediate locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape. Over 600 motte castles or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. As one of a restricted range of recognised early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. Although many were occupied for only a short period of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle. 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. DETAILS 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. Excluded from the scheduling are all perimeter fencing, the sheds and stable within the area of the north bailey, and the underground MOD installation in the central bailey although the ground beneath all these features except the MOD installation is included. SELECTED SOURCES Book Reference - Title: Victoria County History: Derby I - Date: 1905 - Page References: 379 - Type: DESC TEXT

External Links (1)

Sources (1)

  • Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1966. Scheduling notification: Castle Gresley Motte and Bailey Castle. List entry no. 1011209. SM Cat. No. 182.



Grid reference Centred SK 2793 1789 (95m by 145m)
Map sheet SK21NE

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Record last edited

Nov 21 2021 8:44PM

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