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HER Number:MDV1018
Name:Eggesford Castle


A motte and bailey castle dating to the 11th or 12th century, situated on the west side of the River Taw, in Heywood Wood. It survives as an oval mound with a surrounding bank, although part has been levelled by 19th century garden landscaping.


Grid Reference:SS 678 119
Map Sheet:SS61SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishWembworthy
DistrictMid Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishWEMBWORTHY

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS61SE/11
  • Old SAM County Ref: 161
  • Old SAM Ref: 30311
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SS61SE 10

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CASTLE (XI to XII - 1066 AD to 1200 AD (Between))
  • MOTTE AND BAILEY (XI to XII - 1066 AD to 1200 AD (Between))

Full description

Office of Works, Camp at Wembworthy (Schedule Document). SDV343256.

A mount and court camp. The mount which stands at the south end of the court is hollow. The agger is 12 feet above the interior of the mound and 18 feet above the bottom of the ditch. The court is defended by an agger about 6 feet high an approximately rectangular in shape. The whole lies on a lope on the west bank of the River Taw. Till recently the ground was covered by thick wood but this has recently been cut, but replanting is required by the Forestry Commissioners.

Woollcombe, H., 1839-1850, Woollcombe Manuscript (Un-published). SDV16214.

Site visit 24th October 1836. Rectangular enclosure with rampart (circa 27 feet outer, 15 feet inner) well preserved except on river side. Raised area in south-west corner. Other details: Plan.

Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 622-3 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.

Of motte and bailey type, rectangular in plan with elliptical motte. Sited on the edge of the steep bank of the River Taw. On this (the west) side, there is no bailey rampart, and no motte rampart. The motte rampart rises 5.5 metres above the motte ditch and is 3.6 metres above the interior of the mound. The bailey is defended on the west by a strong rampart, average height 1.8m, with entrance on west, an agger (ie road) leads to the castle at Heywood. Other details: Plan.

Allcroft, A. H., 1908, Earthwork of England, 405, 413 (Monograph). SDV11975.

Other details: Figure 124.

Carbonell, B. M. H., 1931, The Nymet area, 298 (Article in Serial). SDV44635.

Carter, G. E. L., 1931, Third Report of the Archaeological Section, 155, 157 (Article in Serial). SDV343260.

Renn, D. F., 1959, Mottes. A Classification, 112 (Article in Serial). SDV11931.

Its relationship with Heywood is probably that of the resisting castle and seigework.

Vachell, E. T., 1963, Eggesford and Heywood Castles, 197-200 (Article in Serial). SDV39236.

Sunken motte with bailey on edge of River Taw. Situated in the shrubberies of Heywood House. A primitive Norman ring-motte and bailey. The motte has a depressed central area surrounded by a formidable bank, with ditch at base. The bailey to the north is defended by a hook-shaped bank (on north and west) with a ditch on its west side. There are no vestiges of a bank on the river (east) side of the bailey. An inclined path leads from the bailey up the north side of the motte. Bailey entrance on south-west. No indications of masonry. Unlikely to be a siege castle, rather the predecessor of Heywood, and possibly dating to the Conquest period. Other details: Figures 1-2.

King, D. J. C. + Alcock, L., 1969, Ringworks of England and Wales, 113 (Article in Serial). SDV39240.

A class C (ie partial) ringwork with bailey.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1973, SS61SE10 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV343261.

Site visit 27th September 1973. A ringwork and bailey occupying a sloping shelf above a steep drop to an old crossing of the River Taw. It is in extremely good condition except where Victorian ornamental gardening (now completely decayed) has levelled the rampart of the ringwork next to the bailey to create an ornamental walk. The interior of the ringwork is 30 metres by 20 metres, the enclosing bank is up to 1.6 metres high and the outer face is 2.5 metres in height. The surrounding ditch is 1.8 metres deep. Where it abuts the natural slope the rampart is only 1 metre high and there is no ditch. The bailey is 70 metres by 24 metres internally, the bank is 2.6 metres high on the inner face and 2.1 metres high on the outer face. The ditch is 1.8 metres deep. There is no bank or ditch along the steep natural slope on the east side. The reference by Wall to an agger 45 feet long between this work and a similar one close by is puzzling as the two sites are separated by a steep, in parts almost sheer, escarpment. There is no trace of this feature. Other details: Plan.

Higham, R. A., 1979, The Castles of Medieval Devon, 122-123,246,252,257-258, 260,279,294,315,317,321 (Post-Graduate Thesis). SDV336189.

There are problems with its historical identification, but probably founded in the 1130s and 1140s; its closeness to Eggesford may reflect civil war antagonism, although the castles may be successive and an 11th century date of origin is not impossible. Other details: Figure 35.

Griffith, F. M., 1983, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV343262.

Site visit 28th May 1983 As described by Ordnance Survey. The whole area very densely overgrown with rhododendrons. Certainly a strong defensive position. Possible traces of further banks to the west. Further work planned.

Higham, R. A., 1988, Devon Castles: An Annotated List, 144 (Article in Serial). SDV341278.

Higham, R. A. + Freeman, J. P., 1996, Devon Castles (Draft Text), Gazetteer (Monograph). SDV354350.

A ringwork and bailey situated on the west bank of the river Taw. It is presumed to be 11th-12th century in date, built during the Norman conquest of Devon, the subsequent consolidation of estates or in the civil war of Stephen's reign. The castle comprises a substantial subcircular ringwork about 30 metres in diameter with an entrance gap to the north. The ringwork lies at the southern end of a bailey, some 60 by 30 metres with a rampart and ditch on three sides and the steep scarp of the river bank on the fourth, eastern side.
The relationship between Eggesford Castle (Eggesford II) and Heywood Castle (Eggesford I) which lies just half a mile to the north is unclear. However, the latter's more substantial defences and stronger position suggest that Eggesford Castle was replaced by Heywood Castle or that it was a siege castle constructed in opposition to Heywood Castle.

Department of National Heritage, 1997, Eggesford Castle, 640 Metres North-east of Eggesford House (Schedule Document). SDV343264.

A ringwork castle situated above a ford to the west of the River Taw at Eggesford. It lies to the south-west of a second motte and bailey castle called Heywood Castle. It survives as an oval mound, 31 metres by 20 metres by 3.5 metres high, with surrounding bank up to 1.5 metres high. Part of the ringwork has been levelled by 19th century ornamental gardening. The bailey, which lies to the north-north-east, measures 71 metres long by 24.5 metres wide internally and is surrounded by a bank up to 3.8 metres wide and 2.3 metres high. Surrounding the whole is a ditch which measures 2 metres wide and 1.6 metres to 3.5 metres deep on the north-eastern side; at this point steps have been cut to facilitate access to the river. The history of the castle is not clear, although a date of 1130s to 1140s seems most likely.

Nenk, B. S. + Haith, C. + Bradley, J., 1997, Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1996, 251 (Article in Serial). SDV361739.

Summary of survey work carried out by Exeter Archaeology.

Young, A., 2005, Transcriptions from Winkleigh Biomass Plant National Mapping Programme (NMP) project (Cartographic). SDV321540.

Transcriptions of a bank correspond to the grid reference for PRN167447.

Young, A. & Turner, S., 2005-2006, North Devon/Winkleigh Biomass Plant National Mapping Programme (NMP) project database records, PRN167447 (Interpretation). SDV358473.

Motte and Bailey castle. The motte is barely visible on aerial photographs (p1) as an earthwork through trees and was digitally plotted during the National Mapping Programme.
Photograph reference:
1. RAF 3G/TUD/UK/159 PT1 5068-69 19-APR-1946

English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West, 103 (Report - non-specific). SDV342694.

Extensive significant problems, ie under plough, collapse. Principal vulnerability plant growth.

English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West, 95 (Report - non-specific). SDV344777.

English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West, 90 (Report - non-specific). SDV355280.

Extensive significant problems, ie under plough, collapse. Declining. Principal vulnerability plant growth.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV11931Article in Serial: Renn, D. F.. 1959. Mottes. A Classification. Antiquity. 33. Unknown. 112.
SDV11975Monograph: Allcroft, A. H.. 1908. Earthwork of England. Earthwork of England. Unknown. 405, 413.
SDV16214Un-published: Woollcombe, H.. 1839-1850. Woollcombe Manuscript. Manuscript.
SDV321540Cartographic: Young, A.. 2005. Transcriptions from Winkleigh Biomass Plant National Mapping Programme (NMP) project. Plot of Cropmarks. Digital.
SDV336189Post-Graduate Thesis: Higham, R. A.. 1979. The Castles of Medieval Devon. University of Exeter Thesis. Unknown. 122-123,246,252,257-258, 260,279,294,315,317,321.
SDV341278Article in Serial: Higham, R. A.. 1988. Devon Castles: An Annotated List. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 46. Paperback Volume. 144.
SDV341465Article in Monograph: Wall, J. C.. 1906. Ancient Earthworks. Victoria History of the County of Devon. Hardback Volume. 622-3.
SDV342694Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2009. Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West. English Heritage Report. A4 Bound +Digital. 103.
SDV343256Schedule Document: Office of Works. Camp at Wembworthy. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV343260Article in Serial: Carter, G. E. L.. 1931. Third Report of the Archaeological Section. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 63. A5 Hardback. 155, 157.
SDV343261Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1973. SS61SE10. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV343262Personal Comment: Griffith, F. M.. 1983.
SDV343264Schedule Document: Department of National Heritage. 1997. Eggesford Castle, 640 Metres North-east of Eggesford House. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV344777Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2010. Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West. English Heritage Report. Digital. 95.
SDV354350Monograph: Higham, R. A. + Freeman, J. P.. 1996. Devon Castles (Draft Text). Devon Castles. A4 Unbound + Digital. Gazetteer.
SDV355280Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2011. Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West. english Heritage. Digital. 90.
SDV358473Interpretation: Young, A. & Turner, S.. 2005-2006. North Devon/Winkleigh Biomass Plant National Mapping Programme (NMP) project database records. Cornwall Council Report. Digital. PRN167447.
SDV361739Article in Serial: Nenk, B. S. + Haith, C. + Bradley, J.. 1997. Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1996. Medieval Archaeology. 41. Unknown. 251.
SDV39236Article in Serial: Vachell, E. T.. 1963. Eggesford and Heywood Castles. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 95. Unknown. 197-200.
SDV39240Article in Serial: King, D. J. C. + Alcock, L.. 1969. Ringworks of England and Wales. Chateau Gaillard. 3. Unknown. 113.
SDV44635Article in Serial: Carbonell, B. M. H.. 1931. The Nymet area. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 63. A5 Hardback. 298.

Associated Monuments

MDV1019Related to: Heywood Castle, Eggesford (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7455 - Winkleigh Biomass Plant National Mapping Programme

Date Last Edited:Sep 6 2018 10:51AM