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Scheduled Monument record MDR6242 - Bolsover Castle, Bolsover, Old Bolsover

Type and Period (6)

  • (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1155 AD?)
  • (Medieval to Elizabethan - 1155 AD? to 1600 AD?)
  • (Elizabethan to 21st Century - 1600 AD to 2050 AD)
  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD? to 1900 AD? (approximately))
  • (Elizabethan to Stuart - 1600 AD to 1680 AD)
  • (Elizabethan to Stuart - 1600 AD to 1680 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

SK 4708767. Bolsover Castle. (1) The first castle at Bolsover- a motte and bailey- is said to have been built by William Peverel. A stone castle was probably not begun until the early part of the 12th century and has now entirely vanished. The present Keep or Little Castle, built in 1613 to circa 1616, stands in all probability on the foundations of the earlier Keep. The Riding School, the Gallery range and the Reception Rooms were probably all completed by 1634. The Castle was given to the nation by the Duke of Portland and is now maintained by the Ministry of Works. (2-3) Published survey of earthworks (25", 1962) revised. (4) The outline of the early promontory castle at Bolsover is still fairly clear and takes the form of a huge oval bailey with a small inner bailey. These early defences may have been of stone, but nothing of this is now visible, although early stonework was observed in the course of repairs in 1946 and 1978 in the forecourt of the central area. (5-7) Bolsover Castle and its ancillary buildings is a Grade 1 group. (8) SK 470706. Bolsover castle. Under guardianship. (9) Excavation in 1977 revealed the medieval curtain wall of the castle. (10) Bolsover Castle, 11th century motte and bailey castle, twelfth century tower keep castle and seventeenth century country house. (12) First castle at Bolsover reputedly built by William Peveril, as a motte and bailey, the site given by William the Conqueror. In 1155 it became a royal castle and a keep was probably built 1173-1179. The forecourt of the present keep stands on the medieval foundations, the walls of the garden on the base of the 13th century inner bailey walls. In the 15th and 16th centuries it passed in and out of royal hands until granted to George Talbot, later Earl of Shrewsbury, husband of Bess of Hardwick in 1553. No trace of the medieval castle remains. The new keep was built 1612-1621 on the foundations of the old. The inner bailey became a garden and in the remainder of the 17th century the terrace range, the reception rooms and the riding school were built within the old outer bailey. The castle was donated by the Duke of Portland to the nation and is now a guardianship site. (14) £116 spent on Bolsover and the Peak Castles in 1173-1174 and small repairs to the tower in 1194-1216 (pipe rolls). £134 spent on Bolsover and Horston in 1208-1209. (15) It is possible, by reference to the building accounts of houses, to locate the sources of stone as both great and small houses generally obtained their stone from within a three mile radius; often a quarry or quarries would be opened specifically to supply a building. The prominent buildings on the Permian scarp, Bolsover Castle and Hardwick Halls, obtained their stone from quarries opened specifically for the building work. The present Bolsover Castle, an extravagant adaptation of the site of a large medieval fortress by John Smythson (from 1613) for Sir Charles Cavendish, used quarries in Permian Lower Magnesian Limestone, hereabouts, a pinkish-cream fine-grained dolomite, from Bolsover and Bolsover Moor, and a Westphalian buff, fine-grained sandstone (below the Wales Coal) from Shuttlewood below the scarp. Bolsover Castle was the example of good weathering stone picked by the Commissioners for the rebuilding of the Houses of Parliament. (16) Extended inhumations have been found during tree-planting and pipe laying within the area of the old outer bailey. (18) During the stripping off and disposing of old and weathered lead sheeting from the roof of Lodge 1 at Bolsover Castle, a number of graffiti markings were noticed. Several other markings were subsequently found on the two western lodges, 3 and 4, when these were renovated. Most of the markings were of the outlines of people's footware and the accompanying 19th century dates. The full and partial outlines of 172 shoes and boots, seven hands and 11 miscallanious drawings and initials were identified from Lodge 1. The footware impressions are almost variably a single foot, never a pair, where they varied in detail, some having markings to indicate nails or pegs, and a few indicated repair patches. (19) In 1991 a watching brief suggested that the bank south of the Terrace Range, is of recent origin. (20)

Sources/Archives (19)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1962. 25".
  • <2> Article in serial: Gregory, F. 1948. 'Bolsover Castle. A review of the 17th century buildings', Transactions of the Thoroton Society. Volume 51, p 4ff. pp 1ff, plans, illus.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Pevsner, N. 1953. The Buildings of England: Derbyshire, 1st edition. pp 62-5.
  • <4> Personal Observation: F1 FRH 24-NOV-65.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Faulkner, P. 1972. Bolsover Castle.
  • <6> Bibliographic reference: Hart, C (NDAT). 1981. The North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey to AD 1500. pp 139, 145.
  • <7> Bibliographic reference: Colvin, H. 1963. History of the King's Works. Vol. 2. pp 572-3.
  • <8> Bibliographic reference: Department of the Environment. 1961. Bolsover, Derbyshire, November 1961.
  • <10> Article in serial: Medieval Archaeology. 1978. Medieval Archaeology, 22.
  • <11> Bibliographic reference: Beswick, P. 1978. Derbyshire Origins. pp 40-42.
  • <12> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1992. Scheduling Notification - Bolsover Castle.
  • <13> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index: 1624. 1624.
  • <14> Bibliographic reference: Currey, P. 1916. 'Bolsover Castle', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol. 38, pp 1-28, illust..
  • <15> Bibliographic reference: Renn, D. 1968. Norman Castles in Britain.
  • <16> Bibliographic reference: Stanley, M. 1990. Carved in bright stone: sources of building stone in Derbyshire.
  • <17> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index: 3521. 3521.
  • <18> Bibliographic reference: Derbyshire County Council. Sites and Monuments Record Background File: Matlock.
  • <19> Article in serial: Sheppard, R (TPAT). 1998. 'Footware outlines at Bolsover Castle', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal.
  • <20> Unpublished document: Challis, K & Sheppard, R. 1991. Bolsover Castle: Report on Archaeological Watching Brief on Groundworks at South End of Terrace Range.



Grid reference Centred SK 47093 70638 (274m by 303m)

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Record last edited

Feb 20 2020 2:06PM

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