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Hartington Motte

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Bank Top

In the civil parish of Hartington Town Quarter.
In the historic county of Derbyshire.
Modern Authority of Derbyshire.
1974 county of Derbyshire.
Medieval County of Derbyshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SK12626155
Latitude 53.15092° Longitude -1.81289°

Hartington Motte has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.


A large mound, 20 m in diameter, with 4 m slopes on the north side, possibly a motte and bailey (Map Revisers Comment–FG Cole, reviser, Feb 1960). At SK 12626155, a small extension from the scarp above the Dove, has been artificially accentuated and cut off by a ditch. There is no evidence of a bailey but it can hardly be anthing but a Motte, and on a small scale it practically duplicates Pilsbury Castle (Field Investigators Comments–F1 FRH 17-JUN-66). (PastScape)

SK 1262 6155. A large mound, 20 metres in diameter, with four metre slopes on the north side, possibly a motte and bailey. (Cole, F G (reviser), 1960, S.S. 6").
At SK 12626155, a small extension from the scarp above the Dove, has been artificially accentuated and cut off by a ditch. There is no evidence of a bailey but it can hardly be anything but a motte, and on a small scale it practically duplicates Pilsbury Castle (SMR 6857) (966, F1 FRH (Personal Observation)).
The monument comprises a man-made castle mound or motte built on a natural crag that falls away steeply to the north and west. On all sides but north it is surrounded by a broad ditch that is c. two metres deep, the material from which has been used to built the motte. The latter has a flat top of 20-25 metres diameter and presumably was originally surmounted by a timber keep or palisade. To the north, the side of the mound has partly collapsed, making the top irregular in plan. The whole side is currently (in 1991) suffering badly from livestock erosion and the lack of turf leaves the mound prone to further collapse. Nothing is known of the history of the Bank Top motte. Simple earthwork castles such as this usually date from the 11th or 12th century and if still is use in the late 13th century, had their timber defences replaced by walls of stone. Thus the Bank Top motte was probably abandoned by this date. There is no sign of a bailey associated with the motte and there is no reason to think one ever existed. This may suggest the site was abandoned soon after it was constructed, never becoming a permanent base for the defence of the valley. Thus the site contrasts with Pilsbury Castle a short distance further up the valley, which has two baileys. It is possible, therefore, that Pilsbury could be seen as a replacement fortification to that at Bank Top. They both occupy similar natural crags in the narrow Dove Valley, each controlling passage down the valley from the north. The use of both castles at the same time would seem unnecessary. (Barnatt) (Derbyshire HER)

There is another apparent motte without any visible bailey on a similar raised area of ground at Bank Top, between Pilsbury and Hartington (SK 126616). This is much smaller, measuring only 20 metres in diameter but with a rock-cut ditch 2.5 metres deep. A further motte site has recently been suggested at Crowdecote. It is tempting to speculate that these three sites might have been part of an intended series of defensive works on the boundaries of the de Ferrers' lands, one in each of the three Domesday manors of Hartington, Pilsbury and Ludwell, and the now-lost site of Soham. An alternative explanation might be that Pilsbury Castle was built 1070–80, while the two smaller earthworks at Bank Top and Crowdecote were thrown up during the Anarchy. (Landon, Ash and Payne 2006)

Historical references to Hartington probably refer to nearby Pilsbury Castle. This is a fairly simple adaptation of a natural feature requiring relatively little work, presumably associated with a now lost farmstead, possibly symbolic or pretentious. It may, have been a military bases but such an argument has to give proper consideration to the small number of troops available in the C12.
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This record last updated 15/08/2017 15:56:47

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