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Groby Castle Hill

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Tourhull; Grobi

In the civil parish of Groby.
In the historic county of Leicestershire.
Modern Authority of Leicestershire.
1974 county of Leicestershire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SK52390764
Latitude 52.66399° Longitude -1.22684°

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

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Medieval motte and bailey castle surviving as an earthwork. The Castle was built in the late C11 by Hugh de Grantmesnil and was destroyed in 1172. Excavations in 1962-3 showed the motte was built around an existing stone structure of function, possibly a tower. Fishponds to north destroyed by road by-pass. The oval castle motte is 5 to 6m high with a flattish top and measures 38m east to west and 25m north to south. To the east is a flat bailey area extending for 20m and enclosed by a ditch surviving for a length of 35m and 15m wide and 2m deep. On its outer east side it has a slight bank 1m high. (PastScape)

Now largely destroyed and some of the bailey perimeter beneath embanked road. Creighton speculates that the motte was built over a pre-existing, already somewhat ruinous, Saxon residential tower and represents a continuity of use of a manorial site. The TimeTeam excavation (of just three days) found no evidence of a Saxon tower or earlier site, although a timber thegnal site remains probably. The bailey enclosure is suggested to have included the parish church. The motte was found to been thrown up around the Norman tower (as at Lydford, Devon) although no effort seems to have been made to identify the form of the motte and it is not know if motte was revetted (as at Farnham, Surrey). The site had a major episode of demolition and reconstruction c. 1300 as a great manor of the Ferrers/de Grey family within the bailey. The Time Team investigation did much interesting geophysics giving some idea of the layout of the C14 manor.

A Close Roll entry of May 1344 describes the manor and notes a garden called 'le Tourhull' (Towerhill), an ancient ditch called 'le Slade' and a house called 'le Baillyfeshous'. Quiet what sort of garden was on the motte, market or pleasure?

The C14 manor (described as a 'palace' by TimeTeam) was demolished and replaced by the late C15 brick Old Groby Hall on a slightly different site.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling        
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Sources of information, references and further reading
  • Websites (Gatehouse is not responsible for the content of external websites.)
  • Books
    • Hartley, R.F., 2008, Medieval Earthworks of South-West Leicestershire (Hinckley & Bosworth) p. 21
      Cantor, Leonard, 2003, The Scheduled Ancient Monument of Leicestershire and Rutland (Leicester: Kairos Press) p. 32
      Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of the East Midlands (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 35
      Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 141 (slight)
      Salter, Mike, 1993, Midlands Castles (Birmingham) p. 47
      Woodward, S., 1984, The Landscape of a Leicestershire Parish: The Historical Development of Groby (Leicestershire Museums, Art Galleries and Record Service) p. 20-1
      King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 253
      Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 238
      Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 196
      Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
      Wall, C., 1907, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm, (ed), VCH Leicestershire Vol. 1 p. 258-9 (plan) online copy
      Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 413 online copy
      Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 2 (London) p. 351 online copy
  • Periodical Articles
    • Speight, Sarah, 2008, ''Castles as Past Culture: Living with Castles in the Post-Medieval World' Château Gaillard Vol. 23 p. 385-94
      Creighton, O. H., 1997, 'Early Leicestershire Castles: Archaeology and Landscape History' Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 71 p. 22-5 online copy
      McWhirr, A.D. and Winter, M.J., 1978-79, 'Medieval Castles Additional Information' Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 54 p. 74-75 online copy
      Cantor, Leonard, 1977-8, 'The Medieval Castles of Leicestershire' Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 53 p. 36 online copy
      Hurst, G., 1964, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 8 p. 255 download copy
      1963-4, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 39 p. 51 online copy
      Brown, R, Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
      1927, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 15 p. 196-201
      1902, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 9 p. 118-9 (a re-edition of JBAA article) online copy
      Chalkley Gould, 1901, Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 7 p. 55-6 online copy
      Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 207 online copy
      1870, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 2 p. 320
  • Primary (Medieval documents or transcriptions of such documents - This section is far from complete and the secondary sources should be consulted for full references.)
    • Stubbs, Wm. (ed), 1876, Radulphi de Diceto decani Lundoniensis Opera Historica. The Historical work of Master Ralph de Diceto, Dean of London (London, Rolls Series 68) Vol. 1 p. 404
      Stubbs, Wm. (ed), 1867, Gesta Regis Henrici Secundi Benedicti Abbatis; Chronicle of the Reigns of Henry II and Richard I. A.D. 1169-1192 (London: Rolls Series 49) Vol. 1 p. 126 online copy
      Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1904, Calendar of Close Rolls Edward III (1343-46) Vol. 7 p. 373 online copy (requires subscription but searchable) alternative online copy
  • Antiquarian (Histories and accounts from late medieval and early modern writers)
    • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 280
      Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 17, 18 online copy
  • Other sources: Theses; 'grey' literature; in-house reports; unpublished works; etc.
    • Time Team (Mike Aston et al), 2011, March 20 (1st broadcast), 'The House of the White Queen' Time Team TV Programme (Time Team, a Videotext/Picture House production for Channel 4)
      Wessex Archaeology, 2011, Groby Old Hall Groby, Leicestershire Archaeological Evaluation and Assessment of Results (Wessex Archaeology 74151) online copy
      Finn, N., 2009, Groby Old Hall, Markfield Road, Groby: Historic Building Assessment–contains some historical information about the castle.
      Davison, B.K., 1963, Excavations at Groby, Leicestershire (Unpublished site notebook; Leicestershire SMR)
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This record last updated on Saturday, November 15, 2014

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