From the unstitched coif via Cresswell Crags towards the motte and bailey constructions of the Anarchy

Its been a busy week and this is a bit of a different post from my usual one. As some of you are aware I’m taking part in the Unstitched coif project to stitch a 17th century coif. My first official blog on the topic is here: for those of you who would like to see my progress to date. Suffice to say I need to speed up. Other participants are blogging as well and its absolutely fascinating to see how one pattern can produce so many different results.

Inevitably I couldn’t help taking a dip into the history of embroidery. Tudors used brass or bronze needles – but steel needles started to be used more widely during the reign of Elizabeth I. They were a Spanish import – not something to be mentioned in the same breath as the Armada perhaps. Clearly they were expensive items. Some needles continued to be made from bone because they could be made at home – which made me think about my recent trip to Cresswell Crags and the Stone Age needle excavated there which I have included at the start of this post. It certainly makes me appreciate the relative cost of needles today and their availability. I would perhaps be taking a different approach to needlework if the instruction began – ‘first make your needle.’

And that just leaves the mottes and baileys. No, nothing to do with embroidery. I’m working my way through the history of Derbyshire having completed most of the first draft. I am now at the end of the reworked Norman section – i.e. the Anarchy between Stephen and Matilda- before handing it over to He Who Is Occasionally Obeyed for proof reading and difficult questions! I’m trying to work out what to include in the text about the Anarchy before moving into the next chapter. The difficulty lies in the fact that adulterine castles from the period often had a limited shelf life, the castle at Bakewell being a case in point. The original castle at Bolsover was a twelfth century creation of the Peveril family, not that a lot remains. (NB there is a lovely 17th century little castle!) Its possible that the castle at Pilsbury dates from the Anarchy but the evidence is inconclusive and I’ve already written about it in the context of the Norman Conquest.

My next castle stop will be a return journey to Peveril, with King Henry II in control, and then its a question of identifying suitable fortified manors for an entry in the medieval section – Codnor Castle has definite appeal being sited on a motte and bailey. Its half way between a castle and a manor and has similarities with Wingfield Manor. Codnor was held by Richard, 2nd Lord Grey and his son John who was a military commander for Edward III. Perhaps a map would help me to decide what to include as I need to have a balance of locations from around the county.

I think I need a new category – covering posts like this…what is the word that means ‘and everything else’?

6 thoughts on “From the unstitched coif via Cresswell Crags towards the motte and bailey constructions of the Anarchy

    • It certainly would – I’ll add him to the list. For the time being though – Derbyshire (though in fairness I’m on the tidying up part of the writing) and educating the Tudors with occasional forays into anything interesting.

  1. I enjoyed this, thank you, & am off next to read your “coif” blog. Just a thought – I hope no one thinks that there isn’t much to see at Bolsover, “…not a lot remains…”

    • Good point – I’ve updated the post to include the small matter of the earl’s Little Castle. Glad you enjoyed it.

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