HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Historic England research records Result
Historic England research recordsPrintable version | About Historic England research records

Historic England Research Records

Okehampton Castle

Hob Uid: 440855
Location :
Devon
West Devon
Okehampton Hamlets
Grid Ref : SX5831609425
Summary : Okehampton Castle was built shortly after the Norman Conquest and is strategically situated close to the centre of Devon where important routes meet, on a natural spur of shale that was separated from the hillside by a huge ditch. It was recorded in the Domesday survey of 1086 AD as belonging to Baldwin of Brionne, who had become sheriff of Devon in 1070 AD. By 1274, the castle, in the ownership of the Courtenay family, had become semi-derelict. Several years later it was rebuilt and extended, not as a fortress but as an occasional residence at the centre of a great deer park. In 1539, Edward Courtenay was suspected of treason and was executed by Henry VIII. The castle was stripped of its fixtures and fittings and fell into decay, being used as a source of building material for local people. The castle includes a large mound, the motte on which is situated a stone keep. The extant remains include the structure of the 11th century square keep built by Baldwin. This was added to in the 14th century to create a three storey rectangular structure. The motte, which is about 8 metres in height, comprises of the natural spur and artificially built-up deposits. To the north-east of the motte was the bailey that contained the buildings used to feed and house the occupants. The surviving buildings mostly date to the 14th century and would have originally comprised of a great hall, stables, a chapel, kitchens and other domestic or storerooms. The bailey was defended by curtain walls, which may date to the 12th century, along the north and south sides. At the north eastern end was a double gatehouse connected by a corridor. To the west of the motte are earthworks, which are thought to represent the remains of an earlier bailey of similar construction to the motte. The residual finds of Roman tile and pottery found near the castle are believed to indicate the possible site of a villa. The castle is in the care of English Heritage.
More information : (SX 583942) Okehampton Castle (NR) (1)

See separate card. (2)

Excavations in 1972-3 for DOE (IAM) were concentrated upon the motte and its keep. The complex composition of the motte revealed at least two periods of construction. The first was carefully built of wedge-shaped shale slabs placed end to end, surmounted by a consolidation layer of clay immediately below the granite foundation courses of a square keep. In the absence of evidence to the contrary this keep must date from before 1086. Subsequently (presumably in the late 13th century) the motte was extended westward by tipping of shale rubble, possibly to accommodate the present rectangular keep, incorporating into its east end the remains of the square keep. Features found contemporary with this later phase were a retaining wall immediately beneath the highest part of the keep; a continuation of the north curtain wall up the side of the motte; rough stone steps, and a stone-kerbed path from the bailey to the motte summit. Limited excavation in the bailey suggested the presence of a ditch separating it from the motte and two phases of building construction. (3)

No change.
Published survey 1:2500 survey revised. (4)

The Motte and Keep, excavation report. (5)

Ruins of Okehampton Castle. Finely situated on the knoll with the Okement on W. and deep valley on W. One of the largest castles in Devon. The site is narrow and the buildings stretch from the N.E. gatehouse and barbican to the keep on S.W. Narrow inner bailey flanks by the hall and kitchen on one side and living quaters and chapel on the other. On higher ground than the rest at S.W. end is the keep. All now ruined but with much fine detail and masonry. The keep is probably C12 but much of the rest as late as 1300. (6)

Okehampton Castle. Grade 1. (7)

The excavation programme was completed in 1981demonstrating that the early motte had a rectangular stone tower, and the bailey or outwork extended westwards. Occupation in the eastern bailey had begun in the C12th. During the C13th, the motte ditch had silted up, the curtain wall of ca 1300 collapsed, and extensive rebuilding was undertaken in the C14th by Hugh Courteney. Report and plan. (8-12)

DE 12 Roman tile and pottery residual in Medieval layers. Listed as the possible site of a Roman villa. (13)

Scheduled listing. (14)

Listed by Cathcart King. (15)

Additional reference. (16)

Okehampton Castle. The earthwork remains of an 11th century motte; 12th century and later ruined building remains of a keep, barbican and other buildings. Excavations, which were completed in 1981 demonstrated that the early motte had a rectangular stone tower, and the bailey or outwork extended westwards. Occupation in the eastern bailey began in the 12th century. During the 13th century, the motte ditch silted up, the curtain wall of circa 1300 collapsed, and extensive rebuilding was undertaken in the 14th century by Hugh Courteney. Residual finds of Roman tile and pottery may indicate the possible site of a villa. Scheduled. (1-16)

Okehampton Castle was built shortly after the Norman Conquest and is strategically situated close to the centre of Devon where important routes meet, on a natural spur of shale that was separated from the hillside by a huge ditch. It was recorded in the Domesday survey of 1086 AD as belonging to Baldwin of Brionne, who had become sheriff of Devon in 1070 AD. By 1274, the castle, in the ownership of the Courtenay family, had become semi-derelict. Several years later it was rebuilt and extended, not as a fortress but as an occasional residence at the centre of a great deer park. In 1539, Edward Courtenay was suspected of treason and was executed by Henry VIII. The castle was stripped of its fixtures and fittings and fell into decay, being used as a source of building material for local people. (7, 17, 18)

The castle includes a large mound, the motte on which is situated a stone keep. The extant remains include the structure of the 11th century square keep built by Baldwin. This was added to in the 14th century to create a three storey rectangular structure. The motte, which is about 8 metres in height, comprises of the natural spur and artificially built-up deposits. To the north-east of the motte was the bailey that contained the buildings used to feed and house the occupants. The surviving buildings mostly date to the 14th century and would have originally comprised of a great hall, stables, a chapel, kitchens and other domestic or storerooms. The bailey was defended by curtain walls, which may date to the 12th century, along the north and south sides. At the north eastern end was a double gatehouse connected by a corridor. To the west of the motte are earthworks, which are thought to represent the remains of an earlier bailey of similar construction to the motte. (7, 17, 18)

The 2004 report on Okehampton Castle and Park by English Heritage includes a synopsis of the knowledge of the site to that date. It adds to this the results of survey of the earthworks associated with the castle, which were previously largely uninvestigated in detail and a survey of the archaeology and developing use of the park. The earthwork features closely associated with the castle include the western defences and enclosure.- these may be outlying dfences of the castle, perhaps a further earlier bailey or preliminary defensive obstacle with only brief occupation, but a bank and ditch element of the complex aslo resembles a preshistoric boundary cross-dyke. The earthwork survey also took in the motte, the known early bailey and a series of fishponds and dams. (19)


Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1965
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Okehampton Castle 1969 Plan (DOE)
Page(s) : 01-Jul
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : Archaeology in Devon, annual report
Source details : (RA Higham JP Allan)
Page(s) : 25
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 4, 1981
Source Number : 12
Source : Archaeology in Devon, annual report
Source details : (RA Higham)
Page(s) : 26-Jul
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 5, 1982
Source Number : 13
Source : A gazetteer of Roman villas in Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 50
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : no.1
Source Number : 14
Source : The English Heritage visitors' handbook 1998-99
Source details :
Page(s) : 83
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 15
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the islands. Volume I : Anglesey - Montgomery
Source details :
Page(s) : 117-8
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 16
Source : Ordnance Survey guide to castles in Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 75
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 17
Source : Okehampton Castle, Devon [official guide]
Source details : R.A. Higham. London: Her Majesty's Stationary Office.
Page(s) : Mar-31
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 18
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : 2004. English Heritage Education Information Sheet: Okehampton Castle. http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/upload/pdf/okehampton_castle.pdf [Accessed 17-JUN-2008]
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 19
Source : Okehampton Castle and Park
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Devon Archaeological Exploration Society newsletter
Source details : July 1973 (R A Higham)
Page(s) : 1
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 43
Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 MJF 15-OCT-74
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Devon Archaeological Society proceedings
Source details : (R A Higham)
Page(s) : Mar-41
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 35, 1977
Source Number : 6
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : (Provisional List) Okehampton RD, Devon, Feb 1960
Page(s) : 22
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : West Devon, 07-SEP-1987
Page(s) : 68
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1538
Source Number : 8
Source : Devon
Source details :
Page(s) : 610-12
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Devon Archaeological Society proceedings
Source details : (RA Higham JP Allan)
Page(s) : Mar-42
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 35, 1977
Source Number : 10
Source : Devon Archaeological Society proceedings
Source details : (RA Higham JP Allan)
Page(s) : 49-51
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 38, 1980

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Roman finds
Monument End Date : 410
Monument Start Date : 43
Monument Type : Villa
Evidence : Find, Conjectural Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built between 1066 and 1086
Monument End Date : 1086
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Motte, Keep
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : 12th century and later additions
Monument End Date : 1200
Monument Start Date : 1101
Monument Type : Keep, Barbican, Bailey
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Rebuilt C14
Monument End Date : 1400
Monument Start Date : 1301
Monument Type : Keep, Barbican
Evidence : Ruined Building

Components and Objects:
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Villa
Object Type : TILE, VESSEL
Object Material : Pottery

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 21705
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Devonshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 7
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : DV 21
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 94344
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 107916
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 295
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Devonshire)
External Cross Reference Number : SX 59 SE 7
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SX 59 SE 5
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, OKEHAMPTON CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1972-01-01
End Date : 1981-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OKEHAMPTON CASTLE
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1972-01-01
End Date : 1974-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OKEHAMPTON CASTLE
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1972-01-01
End Date : 1974-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SX 59 SE 5
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1974-10-15
End Date : 1974-10-15
Associated Activities : Primary, INVESTIGATION BY RCHME/EH ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-11-14
End Date : 1995-11-14
Associated Activities : Primary, OKEHAMPTON CASTLE
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OKEHAMPTON CASTLE AND PARK
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 2002-11-01
End Date : 2003-11-01