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Later medieval entrance arch (or gatehouse) to Exeter Castle

View this record on the Archaeology Data Service web site

Description:That the Norman gatehouse was blocked and a new entrance into the inner bailey was built adjacent to it is attested by a number of late-16th century maps of Exeter. Study of the fabric of the gatehouse in 1985 showed that the entrance arch in the outer elevation was blocked at the same time as a postern gateway (complete with a squint aligned on the position of the new entrance arch) was inserted into the NE wall of the building (Blaylock 1987, 10-11). The materials used suggest a date before the late-14th/15th century (in that the primary blocking is wholly in volcanic trap and no Permian breccia appears in the work), and this would support a date perhaps in the early or mid 14th century for this alteration. Of the depictions of this feature on maps much the most useful is the British Library map of c.1600 (BL Add. Ms. 5027, f. 70; cf. Ravenhill and Rowe 2000, 20-21 for discussion of the date of this map), which shows the new archway in full elevation, approached by a covered way (see EUAD 11573) and surmounted by a section of wall containing narrow windows. This suggests that the structure may have been a full gatehouse building, with a first-floor room, rather than simply an arched entrance-way through the curtain wall. The gate is annotated ‘ye latter port’, as opposed to ‘ye ould port’ beside it. Other maps, such as the Hooker plan of St Sidwell’s Fee, show further details: the postern gate in the side wall of the Norman gatehouse and a crenellated top to the structure that is missing in the BL map (Exeter Dean and Chapter ms. 3530). An 18th century copper line engraving by Sparrow may show the arch of this gateway, although it is dated 1772, it was presumably based on a sketch taken before the gate was demolished (Somers Cocks 1977, no. 768; Gray 2000, 56). This shows a semicircular-arched gateway set some distance away from the Norman gatehouse, with masonry walling in between. Unfortunately the walling above the arch is obscured by vegetation, and the windows and crenellations of the earlier maps cannot be verified. The lowering of the ground level in this area that took place when the new entrance was constructed in 1770 (as well as disruption associated with the reconstruction of the lodge in the 1890s), probably means that archaeological traces of this structure are unlikely to survive. [Text based on the gazetteer entry prepared for the Conservation Plan (Filmer-Sankey et al. 2004, 172); SRB, 7.ix.06]
Grid reference:SX921929
Map reference: [ EPSG:27700] 292122, 92930
Periods:1300 - 1540
Identifiers:[ ADS] Depositor ID - 11572.0

People Involved:

  • [ Publisher] Exeter City Council

Bibliographic References:

  • Filmer-Sankey, W.F., Crellin, D. and Aspinall, Z. (with contributions from R.A.Higham and S.R. Blaylock) (September 2004) Rougemont Castle Conservation Plan. Alan Baxter Associates.