Broadcast 20 March 2011
In April 2010 an archaeological evaluation was undertaken by Channel 4’s ‘Time Team’ at the site of a Norman motte and bailey castle and medieval manorial site at Groby Old Hall (NGR 452396 307624; Scheduled Ancient Monument 17066). The castle motte incorporates a rare substantial internal Norman stone building. The site was subsequently re-used as the location for a medieval manorial complex, one of the most extensive in Leicestershire. Extant and below-ground ruins of this manor survive to the south of the motte, some incorporated into the buildings of Groby Old Hall. The present Hall, built in stone, was extended in brick in the late 15th century.
An evaluation comprising eight trenches demonstrated a complex sequence of buildings on the Site. Initially, the focus of occupation was likely to have been the defensive motte, keep and bailey ditch in the northern part of the Site. This early castle was built by Hugh de Grantmesnil in the late 11th century, and may have been slighted by Henry II in 1176 after a siege. The evaluation by Time Team, and excavations in the 1960s under the auspices of the Ministry of Works, indicate that the motte was built around the lower part of the stone keep.
The Time Team evaluation demonstrated that by the 14th century the focus of occupation had shifted to the south-west, where a number of buildings were arranged around a central courtyard area. At least two phases of building were identified within these manorial ranges, and the western range may have included a hall. Some evidence of earlier features and possible timber structures were also seen. The courtyard buildings were probably mostly dismantled in the late 15th or early 16th century when a new brick structure (now known as Groby Old Hall) was built to the south-west.
It is recommended that the results of the Time Team evaluation are published as a summary report, with accompanying figures, to be submitted to the Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society. The results of the 1962-3 excavation by Brian Davison should also be incorporated into the summary report.