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Codnor Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Codenor; Cotenoure; Courtenoure

In the civil parish of Aldercar And Langley Mill.
In the historic county of Derbyshire.
Modern Authority of Derbyshire.
1974 county of Derbyshire.
Medieval County of Derbyshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SK43364998
Latitude 53.04484° Longitude -1.35483°

Codnor Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law*.


Some remains of C13 stone castle built on earlier motte. Listed as a fortified manor, C13/C14 with later additions, now ruinous. The moat has been mostly destroyed by ironstone workings. Ashlar and coursed squared sandstone. Eighteen foot high remains of former rectangular three storey tower to north with connecting wall to later outer court to south. Tower has remains of large external stack to north wall and small square openings to west wall. Outer court has walls on three sides with central ashlar polygonal tower with cross slit windows on two sides and small cusped ogee window to left side. West wall has a four-centred arched fireplace to centre with quoined doorcase to left side. Other wall without openings. Built by the Grey family of Codnor and taken over by the Zouch family in 1496. (PastScape)

The remains of Codnor Castle lie on the edge of the upland forming the Erewash valley boundary about three miles east of Ripley. "In the sixteenth century this stronghold consisted of two large oblong - if not rectangular - courts, separated by a wall strengthened by four circular towers, nearly equidistant, the gateway between the courts being placed in the centre." The principal building, of three storeys, seems to have been in the northern or innermost court. Part of the boundary wall on the east front remains and the southern extremity shows "twenty courses of squared freestone of broad and narrow work (circa 1200) capped by later shale masonry (circa 1330), and is clearly coeval with the circular towers." The wall between the courts, with the circular towers, was once the south wall of the original fortress. A window above the basement dates to about 1350 or a little earlier. Of the south courtyard, a later addition, only the west wall remains. The eastern side is occupied by a farmhouse. The principal gateway must have been in the south wall, now destroyed. As many as six farmsteads are said to have been built out of materials obtained from this castle. From an observation made by Glover, it seems that in about 1740 the outer walls of the castle were then tolerably perfect. This information may have been derived from a view of the structure engraved by Buck in 1727. In the mid 19th century the ground within the northern or inner court was completely turned over in search of ironstone. Traces of gardens are still visible (in 1892) in the field to the north-west and a double row of trees formerly grey on the eastern bank of the moat. The park connected with the castle has long been under cultivation; it is said to have contained about 3000 acres. The estates at Codnor were acquired by Henry de Grey before 1208 on marriage to the heiress. He undoubtedly erected the circular towers. John, Lord Grey, probably repaired, enlarged and strengthened the castle, including the c. 1350 window. The Greys continued in possession of Codnor until 1496 when it passed to the Zouch family, who remained in possession until 1634. (Derbyshire HER ref. Kerry)

In June 2007 an archaeological evaluation was undertaken by Channel 4's Time Team. This involved the excavation of six trenches, three in the lower court to examine the approaches to the gatehouse and three in the upper court to explore the rear of the extant gatehouse and to trace the curtain wall of the upper court. The trenches in the lower court encountered a large moat, approximately 6m wide and 3m deep, with substantial masonry abutments that would have supported a drawbridge. Pottery recovered from the fills of the moat indicates that this probably fell out of use and was backfilled in C16 or early C17. The finds from the lower fills suggest that the moat was probably open from the early C13. The lower fills also produced a notable find, a gold noble of Henry V (1413-1422), struck at the London mint. Although much of the archaeology in the upper court had been heavily disturbed by post-medieval and modem coal extraction and garden features, excavations here revealed part of the back wall of the gatehouse, which appears to have been built in the early C13, and parts of the northern and eastern curtain wall, including the footings of a tower or turret on the western wall. Occupation deposits were found within the turret, although these appear to relate to a fairly late phase in the use of the castle. Analysis of the finds suggests that the masonry castle was probably established in the early C13 and continued in use until C16 or early C17. (Derbyshire HER ref. Wessex Archaeology)

Built of a rather beautiful golden yellow freestone.
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This record last updated 15/08/2017 15:56:47

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