HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.

HER Number:MDV14327
Name:Okehampton Castle Motte


The large motte was probably constructed soon after the arrival of the Normans in Devon in 1068.


Grid Reference:SX 583 942
Map Sheet:SX59SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishOkehampton Hamlets
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishOKEHAMPTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX59SE/7/1
  • Old SAM County Ref: 21
  • Old SAM Ref Revised: 21705
  • Old SAM Ref: 23332

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • MOTTE (Constructed, XI - 1066 AD (Between) to 1086 AD (Between))

Full description

NMR, SX5894 (Aerial Photograph). SDV233071.

Higham, R. A., 1973, Interim Report, 161 (Article in Serial). SDV233072.

Higham, R. A., 1974, Interim Report, 195 (Article in Serial). SDV233073.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1974, SX59SE5 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV232996.

Higham, R. A., 1975, Interim Report, 239 (Article in Serial). SDV233074.

Higham, R. A., 1977, Excavations at Okehampton Castle, 3-42 (Article in Serial). SDV233066.

Motte, Okehampton Castle. Excavated by Higham. Motte: approximately two-thirds of the motte is natural; the upper portions were dug from ditches to its west and east. The eastern motte ditch was filled up late 13C prior to the major building phase in the bailey. Keep: 1st phase: an irregular square building (10.8m externally) of granite, contemporary with the upper layers of the motte, dating to 1068-1086. It was probably a stone tower of at least two storeys with a possible first floor entry. 2nd phase: c1300. The phase 1 building was included in a rebuilding in shale, which incorporated a westward extension. The resultant keep was rectangular, of 2 storeys, with 2 rooms on both upper and ground floor. Other details: Plan.

DCC, 1980, Slide (Photograph). SDV233075.

Higham, R. A. + Allan, J. P. + Blaylock, S. R., 1982, Excavations at Okehampton Castle, Devon: Pt 2: the bailey, 19-151 (Article in Serial). SDV233077.

Other details: Plans.

Department of Environment, 1987, Okehampton Hamlets, 68 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV233134.

Peckham, A., 1990, Devon, 19,20 (Article in Serial). SDV158822.

Artefacts from waterlogged deposits in the cistern included leather and wood. Now at Plymouth Museum.

Ruckley, N. A., 1990, Water supply of Medieval Castles in the UK (Article in Serial). SDV233067.

Further excavation failed to substantiate the theory of a 2 phase construction. At the foot of the motte there is a 1.25m x 1.7m x 2.5m deep rock-cut cistern, utilising groundwater from beneath the motte as well as surface water collected from a rock-cut drain situated in the courtyard.

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

Okehampton Castle is mentioned in Domesday Book and was probably, therefore, constructed soon after the arrival of the Normans in Devon in 1068. The early castle consisted of an almost square stone tower (the eastern half of the existing structure) on top of a large motte, 17.5 metres high on north side, sculpted from the end of a natural shale spur and further raised with material quarried from adjacent ditches. It probably also included the portion of the spur cut off by a bank and ditch to th south-west on the opposite site of the motte from the later castle bailey.

Gaimster, M. + Bradley, J. + Beaumonth James, T., 2000, Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1999, 259-260 (Article in Serial). SDV361738.

Probert, S. A. J., 2004, Okehampton Castle and Park, West Devon: Survey Report (Report - Survey). SDV324949.

The English Heritage survey plan shows a steep oval motte with a keep built in the late 11C, most of the ancillary buildings to the northeast were added in the early 14C & a few added in the later 17C. Other details: Plan.

Ordnance Survey, 2015, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV357601.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV158822Article in Serial: Peckham, A.. 1990. Devon. Organic Archaeological Remains in Southwest Britain: A Survey of the Availa. 4. A4 Paperback. 19,20.
SDV232996Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1974. SX59SE5. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV233066Article in Serial: Higham, R. A.. 1977. Excavations at Okehampton Castle. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Exploration Society. 35. 3-42.
SDV233067Article in Serial: Ruckley, N. A.. 1990. Water supply of Medieval Castles in the UK. Fortress. 7.
SDV233071Aerial Photograph: NMR. SX5894.
SDV233072Article in Serial: Higham, R. A.. 1973. Interim Report. Medieval Archaeology. 17. 161.
SDV233073Article in Serial: Higham, R. A.. 1974. Interim Report. Medieval Archaeology. 18. 195.
SDV233074Article in Serial: Higham, R. A.. 1975. Interim Report. Medieval Archaeology. 19. 239.
SDV233075Photograph: DCC. 1980. Slide.
SDV233077Article in Serial: Higham, R. A. + Allan, J. P. + Blaylock, S. R.. 1982. Excavations at Okehampton Castle, Devon: Pt 2: the bailey. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 40. 19-151.
SDV233134List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1987. Okehampton Hamlets. Historic Houses Register. 68.
SDV324949Report - Survey: Probert, S. A. J.. 2004. Okehampton Castle and Park, West Devon: Survey Report. English Heritage Report. AI/03/2004. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV354350Monograph: Higham, R. A. + Freeman, J. P.. 1996. Devon Castles (Draft Text). Devon Castles. A4 Unbound + Digital. Gazetteer.
SDV357601Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2015. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #81223 ]
SDV361738Article in Serial: Gaimster, M. + Bradley, J. + Beaumonth James, T.. 2000. Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1999. Medieval Archaeology. 44. Unknown. 259-260.

Associated Monuments

MDV14326Part of: Okehampton Castle (Building)
MDV14328Related to: Okehampton Castle Bailey (Building)
MDV111466Related to: Okehampton Castle Keep (Monument)
MDV14329Related to: Okehampton Castle Moat (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV3474 - Earthwork survey of Okehampton Castle and Park

Date Last Edited:Dec 6 2021 10:12AM