Notes: Located on the B6387 just to the west of Bothamsall. There are no car parks or lay-bys in the immediate vicinity but an access point for field gate opposite the motte allows for very short stay parking (it is possible to park without restricting access).
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
The bailey has been completely destroyed but the remains of the motte are visible from the side of the road. The mound is on private land with no routine public access but the visitor can see the surrounding ditch and banks from the road verge.
NO OFFICIAL SITE
Possibly re-using the site of a former Saxon fortification, Bothamsall Castle was a Norman motte-and-bailey fortification built in either the eleventh or twelfth century. Designed to control an important road between Nottingham and York, the castle was seemingly abandoned by the thirteenth century.
HISTORY OF BOTHAMSALL CASTLE
Prior to the Norman Conquest, Bothamsall was a Saxon manor owned by Tostig Godwineson, Earl of Northumbria and it was possibly he who raised some form of fortification on the site to control the point where the Nottingham to York road crossed the River Meden. Tostig was brother to Harold II but was ousted from his position due to local issues and was subsequently killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge (1066). The Saxon regime lasted only weeks longer though when Harold himself was killed at the Battle of Hastings. Tostig's lands were confiscated by William I and it remained a Royal possession at the time of the Domesday Book (1086).
The castle remains seen today are Norman and date from either the eleventh or twelfth century. Sometimes incorrectly referred to as a ringwork fortification, due to top of the mound being topped with an earthwork rampart giving it a saucer shape with a depth of nearly 2 metres, it was actually built in a traditional motte-and-bailey configuration. Although the date of construction is unknown - it could have been a post-Conquest structure or built during the later Civil War known as the Anarchy - circumstantial evidence points to the former. The decision to build in a former Saxon Manor, especially one owned by such a prominent individual as Tostig, and retention of the site by William I is indicative of it being part of the wider mechanisms of control in the years immediately following the Conquest.
There is no evidence Bothamsall Castle was ever rebuilt in stone and it is likely the fortification was out of use by the early thirteenth century. Today all traces of the bailey have been obliterated whilst the motte itself has been damaged by the adjacent road.