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A large mound, known as Castle Hill, is all that remains of Duffield Castle, once a huge building with keep walls 16 feet thick.
Built by Henry de Ferrers, Earl of Derby, it was destroyed and razed by Royalist forces in about 1266 as final revenge for the actions of Robert de Ferrers in joining the rebellion of Simon de Montfort.
Excavations at the end of the 19th century revealed the foundations of a Norman keep. The site of the Norman keep was given to the National Trust in 1897 and was one of its first acquisitions in Derbyshire. Relics excavated here between 1886 and 1957 can be seen in Derby Museum.
At this time J C Cox excavated within the keep. His excavation uncovered Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Medieval material including, 'in the north-west angle of the keep a few human bones were unearthed; they were the only human remains discovered during the excavations. They were pronounced by two doctors to whom they were submitted to be parts of the skeleton of a young woman. In confirmation of this a good sized amber bead was found close at hand (later destroyed) and also the lower portion of a large bronze Anglo-Saxon brooch.' Cox also reports the discovery of a spindle whorl of 'one and a half inches in diameter, and of red ware', smithing waste, including a horse-shoe and 'some coarse, almost black, pieces of pot, slightly flecked with red' which he also attributed to the late Anglo-Saxon Period.
See also DRBY001489.