Gilmorton Castle was an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification raised in the late eleventh century. It was probably raised by Robert Vessey to control the source of the River Swift, an overland route to and from Leicester. The castle probably only remained in use for a short period.



Gilmorton is located ten miles south of Leicester and overlooks the source of the River Swift. It was an existing settlement at the time of the Norman invasion but it seems to have grown in size and value thereafter. The Domesday survey of 1086 records the tenant-in-chief as Robert of Vessey and it may well have been him who built the castle.


Gilmorton Castle was an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification. The circular motte would have been topped by a wooden palisade and/or tower whilst its base and was surrounded by a water filled ditch. A horse-shoe shaped bailey extended to the north-west. Earthworks beyond that, which are now located within a private garden, have been interpreted as a later manorial site but given the relatively small size are probably just relics of a fishpond. Earthworks to the south were contemporary houses.


Little is known about the later history of the castle and it is likely its lifespan was relatively short. The abandoned house platforms suggest a contraction in the size of the village. During World War II RAF Bruntingthorpe, a bomber base, was located just to the east.





Allcroft, A.H (1908). Earthworks of England. London.

Elkin, K (2015). Medieval Leicestershire: Recent Research on the Medieval Archaeology of Leicestershire.

Hartley R.F (2008). Medieval Earthworks of South-West Leicestershire. Hinckley & Bosworth.

Historic England (1994). Motte, moat and fishponds west of All Saints Church, List entry 1010495. Historic England, London.

King, C.D.J (1983). Castellarium anglicanum: an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands.  Kraus International Publications.

Knox, R (2015). The medieval fortified sites of Leicestershire and Rutland.

Morris, B (2015). A Brief History of Gilmorton – The Golden Village on the Moor.

Page, W (1907). The Victoria History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume I.

Pettifer, A (1995). English Castles, A guide by counties. Boydell Press, Woodbridge.

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What's There?

Gilmorton Castle consists of the earthwork remains of a motte. A public right of way runs through the site.

Gilmorton Castle Motte. The circular flat-topped mound.

Gilmorton Castle Motte.

Motte Ditch. The circular flat-topped mound

All Saints Church. The church was probably Saxon in origin. Portions of the structure seen today date from the fifteenth century although most is the result of rebuilding in the 1860s.

Getting There

Gilmorton Castle is found to the immediate west of All Saints Church. Car parking is possible on Church Lane. An unpaved footpath leads to the castle site and the fishponds.

Car Parking Option

Church Lane, LE17 5LU

52.486623N 1.162098W

Gilmorton Castle

Church Lane, LE17 5LU

52.486623N 1.162098W

Fishponds (No Access)

Church Lane, LE17 5LU

52.486623N 1.162098W