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Name:Probable motte, Castle Hill, Tapton
HER No.:3931
Type of Record:Monument
Designation:Scheduled Monument 1011210: TAPTON CASTLE MOTTE


Mound interpreted variously as a motte and/or the site of a windmill

Grid Reference:SK 391 721

Monument Type(s):

  • MOTTE (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WINDMILL MOUND (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • FDR11954 - COIN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)

Associated Events

  • EDR1418 - Ordnance Survey Field Report, 27-APR-60
  • EDR1446 - Ordnance Survey Field Report, 28-APR-60
  • EDR1758 - Hunter Archaeological Society SAM Monitoring
  • EDR978 - Ordnance Survey Field Report, 10-SEP-65
  • EDR3716 - Watching brief, Tapton House, by South Yorkshire Archaeological Service, in 1996

Full Description

[SK 3916 7214] CASTLE HILL [O.E.] (1) "At Tapton … immediately to the north of Chesterfield, just within the grounds of Tapton House, is an artificial elevation known as Castle Hill. From the remains, and the little that has been stated about it in the past, it would appear that it was originally a simple earthwork fort of the moated mound description." (2)

At Tapton, "the hill, commonly called Wind-mill Hill, from a wind-mill formerly erected there, is in old deeds called Castle-Hill, and a close or field, also of the Duke of Devonshire's, there is called Castle-field. Hollinshed, where he speaks of the course of the river Rother at this place, mentions also Topton-Castle, which is also mentioned in the parish register of Chesterfield, A.D. 1605, and Robert de Ferrars was taken prisoner, 1266, apud castrum de Chestrefelde, as we have it in Leland's Collectanea, vol. I, 276, III, 403." (3) Tapton Castle Hill is scheduled as an ancient monument. (4)

Castle Hill is referred to as le Castell Hyll in 1468; also Tapton Castle, 1502, 1563; Tapton Cast., 1577, 1610; Castul furlong, 1339. It has from time to time been considered to be the Roman camp which gave Chesterfield its name but apparently with little justification. It would appear to be an artificial elevation said to be a simple earthwork of the moated mount type [quoting Authy. 2.] (5)

Within the public gardens attached to Tapton House School, the property of Chesterfield Corporation, is a large mound, 36.0m in average diameter and c. 2.0m in height. There are no traces of a ditch; the mound has a flat top, c.20.0m in average diameter and is planted with small trees and shrubs. It is slightly mutilated on the north by the digging of potting soil and tipping rubbish. No evidence of a bailey was seen in the area. The place-name evidence favours the identification of the mound as a motte but its weak profile and the suggestion of a windmill hereabouts may indicate an alternative classification as a mill-mound. Its proximity to the house may suggest a gazebo. It may be a motte which has been mutilated by subsequent use for either of these two alternatives. 'Castlefield' could not be identified but the mound is certainly now named 'Castle Hill'. (6) The topographical situation of this feature is suitable for either a motte or a windmill, and, as suggested by authority 6, the probability exists that it originally held a defensive structure and was later utilised as a mill-mound. (7) Published survey (1/1250, 1964) revised. (8)

A Roman encampment at Tapton has been referred both by Pendleton and a local writer (Ford) separately to the motte or windmill site named Castle Hill. Pendleton also mentions Roman coins being found here (10). No evidence of a Roman earthwork or occupation site was found at Tapton during field investigation and nothing further was discovered about the Roman coins supposedly found here (6)

Scheduling amended in 1993. The scheduled monument is a motte or castle mound and comprises a roughly circular hemispherical mound with a base diameter of 36m and a maximum height on the south-west side of 2m. The level top of the mound measures 20m by 25m and, from its appearance, is interpreted as the site of a shell keep - a type of castle keep in which timber buildings were arranged round the inside of a circular wall or palisade. In addition to the motte, there would originally have been a bailey or outer enclosure, although this is not included in the scheduled area. There are several documentary references to a castle in this area, the first dating to 1339. In addition, the site appears on Saxton's survey of 1577 and Speed's map of Derbyshire of 1610. It is in a strategic location, overlooking the Rother Valley, and in its elevated position would have commanded views over a wide area. (11)

<1> Ordnance Survey (OS), 1921, 6" map (Map). SDR12066.

<2> Cox, J, 1905, 'Ancient Earthworks', in The Victoria County History of Derbyshire, Volume 1, p 375 (Bibliographic reference). SDR19691.

<3> Pegge, S, 1784, Bibliography of the Topography of Britain, p31 (Article in serial). SDR212.

<4> Ministry of Works, 1958, Ancient Monuments of England and Wales (Scheduling record). SDR717.

<5> Cameron, K, 1959, 'The Place-Names of Derbyshire, Part II', English Place-Name Society, p312 (Bibliographic reference). SDR13112.

<6> F1 WW 27-APR-60 (Personal Observation). SDR6516.

<7> F2 FDC 28-APR-60 (Personal Observation). SDR6576.

<8> F3 FDC 10-SEP-65 (Personal Observation). SDR6657.

<9> NDAT, 0712 (Index). SDR10923.

<10> Pendleton, J., 1882, Old and New Chesterfield (Bibliographic reference). SDR11807.

<11> English Heritage, 1993, Schedule Entry Copy: Tapton Castle Motte, SM Cat. No. 116 (Scheduling record). SDR19800.

Sources and Further Reading

[1]SDR12066 - Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1921. 6" map.
[2]SDR19691 - Bibliographic reference: Cox, J. 1905. 'Ancient Earthworks', in The Victoria County History of Derbyshire, Volume 1. pp 357-396. p 375.
[3]SDR212 - Article in serial: Pegge, S. 1784. Bibliography of the Topography of Britain. Volume 4. p31.
[4]SDR717 - Scheduling record: Ministry of Works. 1958. Ancient Monuments of England and Wales. 23289.
[5]SDR13112 - Bibliographic reference: Cameron, K. 1959. 'The Place-Names of Derbyshire, Part II', English Place-Name Society. p312.
[6]SDR6516 - Personal Observation: F1 WW 27-APR-60.
[7]SDR6576 - Personal Observation: F2 FDC 28-APR-60.
[8]SDR6657 - Personal Observation: F3 FDC 10-SEP-65.
[9]SDR10923 - Index: NDAT. 0712. 0712.
[10]SDR11807 - Bibliographic reference: Pendleton, J.. 1882. Old and New Chesterfield. 8.
[11]SDR19800 - Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1993. Schedule Entry Copy: Tapton Castle Motte. 23289. SM Cat. No. 116.