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HER Number:MDV12495
Name:Medieval North Gate, Barnstaple


Site of the Medieval North Gate in Barnstaple which was finally demolished in 1842.


Grid Reference:SS 556 334
Map Sheet:SS53SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBarnstaple
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBARNSTAPLE

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS53SE/170
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SS53SE13
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SS53SE30

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • GATE (Early Medieval to XIX - 1066 AD to 1842 AD (Between))

Full description

Cotton, R. W., 1823-1900, The Gates and Walls of Ancient Barnstaple (Un-published). SDV342348.

Site of the medieval North Gate and Allhallows Chapel destroyed in 1842, until when only the eastern arch remained entire; built of rough massive stones (sandstones), 7.62 metres deep, 3.35 metres wide at north end, and 3.96 metres wide at south where there was possibly a guardroom. The western arch had collapsed centuries earlier. Alterations were made when the Bluecoat School was built circa 1770. Cotton's manuscript includes a plan made circa 1842 by the Borough Surveyor, who identified supposedly Roman work.

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

'North Gate (Site of)' recorded on 1880s-1890s 25 inch Ordnance Survey map.

Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV325644.

Harper, S., 1910, History of Barnstaple (Monograph). SDV342351.

Rogers, I., 1922 - 1923, Some Ancient Clocks in North Devon, 362-3 (Article in Serial). SDV6732.

The North Gate used to stand at the north end of High Street. It was a double-arched structure surmounted by a hall which had earlier been a chapel dedicated to Allhallows or All Saints. It was modernised in 1710 when the Bluecoat School was established there. An 18th century clock which had been mounted on the north gate was removed and re-mounted on the new Bluecoat School in North Walk.

Wood, M., 1980, Barnstaple, North Gate, East Abutment, 123-4 (Article in Serial). SDV342349.

Modernisation at 55 High Street in Barnstaple revealed a stone feature incorporated into the fabric of the building: a buttress supporting the North Gate on the eastern side. The stone was a roughly dressed pinkish sandstone, probably of Ham Hill type commonly used in 14th century building work in Barnstaple. The feature was 2.13 metres high by 0.81 metres wide at the base with a depth of up to 0.66 metres. The North Gate consisted of double arches with rooms above used between 1770 and their demolition in 1842 as a school. In 1842 the arch was described as semi-circular and the central pier was 1.22 metres thick.

Dyer, M. + Collings, A. G. + Henderson, C. G., 1994, Archaeological Assessment of Proposed Extension to the North Country Inn, 128 Boutport Street, Barnstaple, 5 (Report - Assessment). SDV342316.

The recorded position of the North Gate, on the High Street in a position of its junction with Green Lane, does not correspond with the line of defence suggested by map evidence. It is possible that the gate was repositioned in late medieval or early modern times, as happened to several of Plymouth’s gates.

Friends of Archaeology ND, Unknown, Historic Barnstaple (Leaflet). SDV356772.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, Unknown, SS53SE30 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV350727.

Site visit 15th October 1953. A wall plaque built into the frontage of 55 High Street indicates the site of the north gate.
Site visit 6th March 1976. No change.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #80522 ]
SDV342316Report - Assessment: Dyer, M. + Collings, A. G. + Henderson, C. G.. 1994. Archaeological Assessment of Proposed Extension to the North Country Inn, 128 Boutport Street, Barnstaple. Exeter Archaeology Report. 94.27. A4 Stapled + Digital. 5.
SDV342348Un-published: Cotton, R. W.. 1823-1900. The Gates and Walls of Ancient Barnstaple. A4 Single Sheet + Digital.
SDV342349Article in Serial: Wood, M.. 1980. Barnstaple, North Gate, East Abutment. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 38. Paperback Volume. 123-4.
SDV342351Monograph: Harper, S.. 1910. History of Barnstaple. History of Barnstaple. Unknown.
SDV350727Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. Unknown. SS53SE30. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV356772Leaflet: Friends of Archaeology ND. Unknown. Historic Barnstaple. Leaflet + Digital.
SDV6732Article in Serial: Rogers, I.. 1922 - 1923. Some Ancient Clocks in North Devon. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 12. Unknown. 362-3.

Associated Monuments

MDV22872Related to: Allhallows Chapel, Barnstaple (Building)
MDV14292Related to: Barnstaple Medieval Town Defences (Monument)
MDV12510Related to: Medieval East Gate, Barnstaple (Monument)
MDV12509Related to: Medieval South Gate, Barnstaple (Monument)
MDV12497Related to: Medieval West Gate, Barnstaple (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jun 19 2014 2:31PM