Greasley Castle in Nottinghamshire was a prestigious stronghold built for soldier and politician Nicholas de Cantelupe in the middle of the 14th century, but it has been somewhat camouflaged since the site’s incorporation into a farmstead in the 16th century. Now, though, Dr James Wright of Triskele Heritage has revealed the remains and partial layout of the medieval building complex using archaeological survey techniques.
‘This was a purely research-driven project, funded by the Castle Studies Trust, which sought to understand the extent and context of the surviving standing architecture of Greasley Castle,’ James told CA. ‘We used multi-disciplinary buildings archaeology techniques to try and understand the known history of the site, which was then coupled with a visual analysis of the structures. A significant issue was trying to unpick what remained of the medieval castle from early modern farm buildings and the 19th-century remodelling of the site. This was done through a close assessment of the various building fabrics, their physical relationships, and structural stratigraphy. Everything was recorded through general and detailed photography, measured drawings, and annotations.’
The survey work showed that the complex was a ‘courtyard castle’ with corner turrets and a great hall featuring tracery windows and an early recessed fireplace. The hall was entered via an imposing doorway, while fragments of stonework found at the site suggest that the castle was richly decorated with sculptures, moulded copings, and vaulting.
‘The story that emerged was of a once-magnificent castle that formerly rivalled sites such as Maxstoke Castle or Haddon Hall, which slid into decline due to the varied family fortunes of its owners,’ James said. ‘By the late 16th century, it was a roofless ruin that was converted into a farm. However, during the survey, the visual clues pointed clearly towards the high-status nature of the medieval castle. By using well-established buildings archaeology techniques, we were able to recapture something of the architectural grandeur of Greasley Castle for the first time in four or five centuries.’