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Monument record MDR5890 - Pinxton Castle, Castle Wood, Pinxton and South Normanton

Type and Period (4)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

'In Castle Wood, near Range Farm, about a mile to the east of South Normanton, is a rectangular moated enclosure having a square of about 225 feet from the outer side of the trench. In the centre is a small raised mound, and there is a larger mound close to it on the north-west. It seems to have been some form of an early defensive work, altered in mediaeval days… It is termed 'Moat' on the Ordnance Survey map, but it is certainly not to be included under Homestead Moats'. (1) The earthwork in Castle Wood, shown as 'Moat' by the OS, is known locally as Pinxton Castle, and is a motte and bailey. The earthwork is on a slope which rises about 50 ft. in about 250 yards to the north and falls away 150 ft. in 1 1/2 miles to the south. The bailey was defended by a wet ditch. The ground of the platform is much disturbed, 'and what might easily be viewed as a mound and a cross ditch developing a first and a second bailey may be traced'. The motte is a cone of earth thrown up from the spoil of the north-west ditch, on the most vulnerable side. It was never perfected. (2) Excavations were carried out in 1950 and 1951 on the earthwork known as Pinxton Castle. In 1950, a trench running roughly 30 degrees west of north was dug on the westerly side of the inner bailey. A wall of bonded stone with no trace of cement was found. A corner stone at the north end was located and the excavations proceeded at right angles until conditions stopped operations. Post holes at intervals along the wall suggest a timber-framed building. In 1951, the trenches were located to find the eastern wall. The wall was not so well defined here but the evidence tends to show the building was approx. 30 ft. x 23. ft. An abundance of roofing stone, glazed and unglazed tiles, and pottery fragments were found, all late 14th century. A stone platform, 7 1/2 ft x 5 ft was uncovered on the north- east corner of the inner bailey. Roofing tiles and pottery were found here, together with a sandstone capital of estimated 1150 date. The site is tree covered and roots made it impossible to fix strata levels. Further excavation is necessary before a clear picture of the original layout can be obtained. The excavations were carried out by the Pinxton Archaeological Society. (3) The excavations by the Pinxton Archaeological Society were conducted from 1951-4. They were not of a scientific nature and comprised sporadic digging to find walling, which was then followed. The plans made, photographs and sketches have been mislaid or lost. The small 'building' found, (sited on OS 25" by authorities at SK 45975683) was excavated by following the outer face of the walling. A circular cavity in the walling was construed as a post- hole. The 'platform' (identified on the plan at SK 45945685) was excavated among trees with great difficulty. A few potsherds were identified as 14th century by Sir Mortimer Wheeler during a casual visit to the area. The capital was identified as c.1150 by a member of the Society. Members have a collection of pot-sherds and architectural fragments including the capital, glazed tiles and ornamental ridge and hip tiles. There is little local tradition relevant to the site. 'Pinxton Castle' is not used but it is sometimes called Wynn's Castle'. The association of the medieval Wynn family with the area is confirmed by a few documentary references. There are no known documentary references to the site as such nor is it mentioned as a castle. One opinion is that the site was the residence of a local officer of Sherwood Forest as it is strategically placed at the edge of the forest. (4) The earthworks in Castle Wood comprise a sub-rectangular moat with a ditch averaging 11m wide and 2m deep. At the western corner the depth is greater due to the southern slope in which it is dug. To the west of the moat is a supplementary bank, c. 5m wide and 1 m high and along the south boundary of the wood a ditch, 6 m wide and 1 m deep with a mound-like bank accompanying it on the outside of the wood. In the northern part of the wood a spring rises and was channelled through a former sluice into a large dug depression, probably a fish-pond. Colliery tips are encroaching upon the pond; it may have continued to the south-east to join the southern ditch and so form an L-shaped supplement to the moat's defences but no certain evidence survives. An oval mound by the eastern side of the pond is probably derived from it. No evidence of an earthen motte and bailey was seen and the suggestion appears to have derived from the Castle element in the place-name and from the mound, at SK 45915687 suggesting a motte. This is an irregular oval and conical, mound, averaging 20m in width and c. 3m high. There is no evidence of a ditch. It lacks the flat top of a motte and, in the opinion of this investigator, is probably derived from the adjacent deep ditch of the moat. Within the moated area the excavations by the Pinxton Archaeological Society have been left open. Fragments of walling of thin, mortared stone can be seen at the southernmost site and building debris, including tiles, at both sides. It is doubtful whether the nature of these excavations justifies the conclusions given by Authority 4. In the opinion of this investigator the site is that of a homestead moat with associated earthworks. A 25" AM survey has been made. (6) Report and survey (published 25" 1961) correct. All is heavily overgrown within a wooded enclosure, excepting an external mound on the south-east which is spread by ploughing. (6) Pinxton Castle (sometimes Wynn Castle) is a scheduled monument. It includes the motte of a 12th century earthwork castle and a later medieval fortified manor. Remains include a moated site and five fishponds along with a range of perimeter earthworks. The motte is believed to have been associated with Roger de Wynn who held the manor of Pinxton from 1120. Partial excavations were carried out in the 1950s by the Pinxton Archaeological Society. Unfortunately, the records of this work have been lost but it is assumed that the society was responsible for uncovering the overgrown building remains which appear to be of a post-medieval building and overlie the buried evidence of the earlier timber buildings which would originally have occupied the site. (8) In November/December 1993 and January 1994 Trent & Peak Archaeological Trust conducted documentary and field survey in advance of the construction of a retail and business park. The site consists of a square moated enclosure c.70m across, with a moat up to 11m wide, and an adjacent bank to the south-west . A mound to the north-west is c.30m wide and up to 5m high, and a small mound with a deep ditch lies to the north. South Normanton Colliery, now defunct, may have impinged on the north-east side of the site, but interference appears to be minimal. Part of the moat is now a substantial pond. The documentary survey located a perambulation of Sherwood Forest in 1589 which showed that the boundary of the forest then passed through the area; it is suggested that the possible motte and bailey may have been one of a series of stations strategically placed to deter encroachment. The earliest map found of the area is a Senior map of c.1637. Survey of a bank to the south of Castle Wood indicated that whilst it may relate to the castle it may equally be a relict of medieval farming practices. (9)

Sources/Archives (9)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Cox, J. 1905. 'Ancient Earthworks', The Victoria County History, Derbyshire, Volume 1. p 384. p 386.
  • <2> Article in serial: Stevenson, W. 1918. 'Pinxton Castle', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol. 40, pp 78-84, plan.
  • <3> Article in serial: Monk, G E. 1951. 'Excavations at Castle Wood, Pinxton', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol. 71, pp 68-69.
  • <4> Personal Observation: F1 WW 27-JUL-59.
  • <5> Personal Observation: F2 WW 31-JUL-59.
  • <6> Personal Observation: F3 FRH 27-JUL-66.
  • <7> Index: NDAT. 2146. 2146.
  • <8> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1994. Scheduling Notification. 23295. Cat. No.: 316.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Sheppard, R & Brown, J (TPAU). 1994. Archaeological Evaluation of the Castlewood Development Site, Pinxton.



Grid reference Centred SK 4595 5688 (146m by 159m) (Centre)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (4)

  • EDR422
  • EDR1429
  • EDR1430
  • EDR1514

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Record last edited

Aug 1 2017 11:16AM

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