There’s not much visible today, but you might be standing close to the site of a Medieval motte (a mound forming the site of a castle). The objects below are recorded as being from “the site of an ancient mansion, Castle Field, Crowdecote”.
Crowdecote is nearby to Pilsbury Castle, which is well documented and still visible today in the form of earthworks. It controlled an important crossing point over the River Dove. But did Crowdecote also have a fortified crossing?
The artifacts above were originally in the collections of local antiquarian, Micah Salt, whose activities and collections were recorded in a series of publications by W Turner, who wrote in 1903:
At Crowdicote, near Hartington, there are remains of foundations of an old castle. A passage like a cave had been made under them. In it were found, about twenty years ago, a number of relics … The cottages near the spot are partly built of sandstone, evidently from the ruins
Some people have pointed out that Turner might actually be describing Pilsbury Castle itself – but this has been disputed by N Landon et al (2006) who point out:
- There are no physical signs of excavation at Pilsbury
- It is unlikely someone like Turner would have named the site incorrectly
- There are no cottages nearby to Pilsbury that fit the description above – however, there are cottages at Crowdecote built from local standstone
- The descriptions of the site are inconsistent, Turner calls it an ‘ancient mansion’ in earlier writings
- If the artifacts can be considered to date the completion of the castle, the 1216 date on the Henry III coin seems improbably late for Pilsbury
If there was a motte here, it may have been built between 1070-1080 as part of a series of defended river crossings on the boundaries of Henry de Ferrers’ land, granted to him by William the Conqueror.
Alternatively, the fortifications could have been built during ‘The Anarchy’ – a period of a civil war and a succession crisis that split Norman England between 1135 and 1153. The de Ferrers supported Stephen of England (the nephew of Henry I), whilst the neighbouring Earl of Chester supported Empress Matilda, (Henry I’s daughter).