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:MDV1894
Name:Hemyock Castle


Hemyock Castle is a roughly rectangular structure with a well-defined moat dating from the 14th century. The principle remains comprise the circular towers flanking the main (east) entrance and a corner tower at the north east angle. There are also the remains of four other circular towers and stretches of curtain wall. Within the walls is a post medieval farmhouse.


Grid Reference:ST 135 132
Map Sheet:ST11SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishHemyock
DistrictMid Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishHEMYOCK

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: ST11SW/4
  • Old SAM County Ref: 328

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CASTLE (Early Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1750 AD)

Full description

Untitled Source, 178 (Migrated Record). SDV15340.

The gateway is tolerably well preserved, the remaining masonry 'not eloquent'.

1840s, Hemyock (Cartographic). SDV58448.

The tithe map plan is apparently incorrect.

Hutchinson, P. O., 1848-1894, Diaries (Un-published). SDV339321.

Square castle with round towers in each corner, and in middle of east side. Surrounded by moat. Gateway in middle of east wall opposite west door of parish church. Separated from church by a small stream. Gatehouse has pointed out flanked by two tower and remains of portcullis groove. 'Modern' farmhouse built within gateway (see PRN 19528), and heaps of stone lie withiin walls. Other details: Sketches.

Parker, J., 1859, Untitled Source, 355 (Monograph). SDV275385.

Hemyock Castle. There are considerable ruins of this building: five of the towers and the entrance gate are visible. One of the towers is almost 20 feet high.

Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 623 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.

Classified as a stronger enclosure of the homestead moat type. Around its bastions on the north, west and south is a strong moat 3m deep, which was fed by a stream which flows on the east side of the keep. Other details: Plan.

Pearse Chope, R., 1911, The Lord Dynham's lands, 271 (Article in Serial). SDV58435.

A late 14th century structure mentioned in Henry Compton's survey of Lord Dynham's lands in 1566. Entrance archway is a fine example of flint work. Portions of seven towers are visible and parts of the curtain wall remain. Enclosed on three sides by a dry moat.

Joce, T. J., 1928 - 1929, Hemyock Castle, 182-3, 218 (Article in Serial). SDV57546.

East side of the moat has been filled in and is now a lane. Of the four small towers one remains tolerably intact. The curtain wall survives to 3m high. Walls of chert and flint lumps with a good lime mortar.

Sherwin, C., 1928-29, Hemyock Castle, 206 (Article in Serial). SDV57553.

Chalk, E. S., 1928-29, Hemyock Castle, 207 (Article in Serial). SDV58056.

Sherwin, C., 1929, Untitled Source, 47-63 (Article in Serial). SDV58436.

Much of this article is given over to family history. The castle was built by William and Mary Asthorpe who received a licence to crennelate in 1380-1381; the reason for its construction is uncertain. It was garrisoned by Parliament in 1642, and reduced by the Royalists; a bullet has been found embedded in the wall of the north central tower. Immediately before the civil war it was used as a prison. It was dismantled after the restoration. Other details: Plate.

Ancient Monuments, 1953, Untitled Source (Schedule Document). SDV58440.

A more or less rectangular site enclosed by a moat, wet in places a stone curtain with remains of round towers at the angles exists on the north and east sides. In the middle of the east side is a gateway with flanking towers and a restored arch. The walls are probably 14th century.

Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 408c/408/275,408 (Monograph). SDV17562.

Probably a fortified house rather than a true castle, erected late 13th/early 14th century.

Department of Environment, 1959, Tiverton RD, 21 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV54004.

Castle gatehouse and walls listed. Gatehouse has round flanking towers. Walls fragmentary and incorporated portions of semi- circular towers. Probably early 14th century.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1962, Untitled Source (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV58445.

Apart from the gatehouse which is in a fair state of preservation the remains are poor. Three remnants of wall towers on the north side of precincts and further tower on south side are of rubble construction with no dressed stone. Moat is well defined.

Ancient Monuments, 1974, Untitled Source (Schedule Document). SDV58441.

Scheduled area includes all but the farmhouse in the centre.

Cambell, J., 1978, Untitled Source (Plan - measured). SDV58447.

Plan of Hemyock Castle.

Higham, R. A., 1979, The Castles of Medieval Devon, 44,155-156,298,315,317-8, 321,332 (Post-Graduate Thesis). SDV336189.

Principal remains are the circular flanking towers which flank the east entrance, and the one at the north east angle. Parts of the four other mural towers and curtain wall survive. No indication of the layout of the medieval buildings; the surviving fabric is rubble with no details visible. Sherwin's plan assumes a single tower on the west opposite the gatehouse, but recent work by Cambell suggests there were two towers on this side with the wall swinging outwards to follow the pattern of the moat. The 1380 licence to crenellate allowed for the building of a 'wall of stone and lime'. There is a 13th century reference to a 'court'. Other details: Fig. 50 PhD Thesis Exeter University.

Bagg + Ryan, 1980, Untitled Source (Worksheet). SDV58449.

A ditch was apparent in section in a pipe trench running parallel with the Hemyock-Culmstock road. This appears to be an extension northwards of the western side of the moat. 'Dark peaty fill with organic remains'. Other details: Sketch section, plan.

Timms, S. C., 1980, Untitled Source (Site Visit). SDV58450.

Residential development in orchard on west of Hemyock Castle is well under way. Following previous site meetings, permission has been granted subject to the limit of development being set back from the edge of the moat. No archaeological evidence recorded during the course of development. DoE has had discussions with owner of Hemyock Castle about programme for conservation of standing masonry but no agreement has been reached. The garden within the moated area has had a considerable amount of soil dumped on it and is sometimes used as a caravan site. Other details: Slides in HER.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, DAP/AO, 12 (Aerial Photograph). SDV57554.

Higham, R. A., 1984, Untitled Source (Site Visit). SDV58451.

Site visit during repairs to gatehouse towers. Photos taken. Other details: Photos in Parish File.

Badock, C. + Hodgson, T., 1985, Untitled Source (Report - Watching Brief). SDV58481.

Other details: MS report.

Griffith, F. M., 1986, DAP/GC, 4,6 (Aerial Photograph). SDV57556.

Timms, S. C., 1986, Untitled Source (Worksheet). SDV58452.

Gatehouse repairs almost complete. Vegetation has been cleared from moat on north and west sides. Stone wall has been discovered during conversion work to outbuildings east of gatehouses. Parchmarks reported as visible in interior during summer of 1984.

Department of Environment, 1987, Hemyock (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV36975.

Ruined castle gatehouse and curtain walls. Circa 1380: in this year Sir William Asthorpe was licensed to erect a 'wall of stone and lime'. There was already a structure of some sort on this site, referred to in a 13th century document as a 'court'; the early work on the gatehouse (see below) may date from this period. Random chert rubble. The curtain wall enclosed a roughly rectangular site; the principal remains are the circular towers flanking the main (east) entrance, and a corner tower at the north-east angle. There are remains of four other circular mural towers and stretches of curtain wall. No dressed stone or detailing survive, and it is not clear where the entrances to the towers were originally; clearly they were not at ground level. To the rear of the gatehouse towers is a vertical masonry joint probably indicating that part of the structure ante-dates the 1380s work.

Historical note: Sir William Asthorpe was a courtier, and appointed by Richard II as Sheriff of Devon in the 1380s in the face of considerable local hostility; he had married into the Dynham family, a connection that led to protracted family litigation in the court of chivalry; after his year in office as Sheriff, about a dozen cases of embezzlement and other corrupt practices were brought against him by numerous members of the local nobility. He was temporarily imprisoned in the fleet prison, but pardoned by Richard II. His vulnerability probably explains in part the erection of the castle, but it was doubtless also intended to impress the local gentry.

Higham, R. A., 1988, Devon Castles: An Annotated List, 145 (Article in Serial). SDV341278.

Sheppard, M., 1988, Hemyock Castle: A History So Far (Monograph). SDV58480.

Blaylock, S. R., 1989, An Archaeological Survey of Hemyock Castle (Report - Survey). SDV58058.

A detailed archaeological survey was carried out in 1989 by EMAFU for HBMC. No evidence to indicate a structure on the site prior to the 14th century was identified. Fabric recording was undertaken, amplified by a few small trenches. Detailed descriptions given of the gatehouse, curtain wall, north-east corner tower, north tower, north-west corner tower, and the moat. Medieval fabric was recorded in all these structures, and the possibility that the moat might represent an earlier feature is reviewed (for house see PRN 19528). Evidence from the trenches indicates that a structure, now lost, lay within the western side of the site and conditioned the layout of the curtain wall. The present condition of the fabric of the monument is reviewed, and recommendations for further work made.

Griffith, F. M., 1991, DAP/UG, 11-15 (Aerial Photograph). SDV57557.

Department of Environment, 1991, Scheduled Monument Consent Letter (Correspondence). SDV325978.

SMC granted for repairs to partially collapsed tower.

Beverley, S. M. + Nenk, S. + Margeson, S. + Hurley, M., 1992, Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1991, 212, 214-215, Fig 16 (Article in Serial). SDV58456.

Limited excavation and survey by EMAFU in 1991. No fabric earlier than 1380 located. Moat may predate or be contemporary with fortification. Twin towered gatehouse with central passage. Towers had ground floor doorways. Course of west curtain wall recovered; also possible location of a west central tower. West side was two lengths of curtain wall on different alignments. Earthworks recorded by OS on south west side (now obscured) may have been remnants of approach to an entrance on west side.

Horner, B., 1993, DAP/VV, 8-11 (Aerial Photograph). SDV112612.

Higham, R. A. + Freeman, J. P., 1996, Devon Castles (Draft Text), 6, 9, 14, Gazetteer (Monograph). SDV354350.

Hemyock Castle occupies a low lying site in the centre of the village. It lies on the west bank of a tributary of the river Culm which may have originally fed the castle moat. The earliest documentary reference to the castle is in 1380 when a licence to crenellate a dwelling house was granted to William Asthorp. This suggests that defensive walls were added to an earlier manor house.
The remains comprise ruinous curtain walls on three sides which, together with the foundations found by excavation, on the fourth, west, side enclose an irregular area about 51 by 42 metres. There are towers surviving at the north-west and north-east corners; there were formerly towers at the other two corners and midway along the north and south walls. There is a gatehouse formed by a pair of similar towers in the east wall. The moat survives for about half its circuit. The core of the present house is medieval but of later date than the castle defences.

Gent, T. H. + Blaylock, S. R., 1999, Further Archaeological Excavations and Observations at Hemyock Castle, Devon, 1997-98, 4-5 (Report - Excavation). SDV344560.

Two areas of excavation were undertaken, outside the north-west tower to determine the nature and extent of the footings and to identify any additional archaeological remains, and within the north-east tower to remove modern deposits and tumbled wall remains and uncover any surviving archaeological levels. An area in the walled garden on the south side of the site was also excavated, in order to test a report that a banked up area around the north and west sides of the garden consisted of recently deposited loose rubble. The excavations at the north-west tower revealed clay-bonded footings built directly onto an area of exposed subsoil, with no indication of foundation trenches. The stone lying in the area of the junction between the tower and the curtain wall to the east may represent a foundation layer placed in a natural depression, and a number of unexpected characteristics in this area suggested the presence of an infilled doorway. Evidence for at least four surfaces was identified in the north-east tower, and it was assumed that the lowest cobbled surface is a primary feature, contemporary with its initial construction. The central post hole would have held a timber post which supported the joists of a suspended wooden floor, the outer ends supported in the sockets found in the inner faces of the tower wall. In the walled garden a short section of walling was exposed, immediately beneath the turf, and running parallel to the standing wall continuing east from the interpretation room. No evidence for the date of construction or use of the wall was observed, although the masonry is consistent with that of the medieval walls elsewhere in the castle. This indicates the bank feature covers structural remains. Other details: Figures 2-5, plates 1-15.

Martin, L., 1999, Hemyock Castle: Report on Geophysical Survey (Report - Geophysical Survey). SDV58457.

A geophysical survey confirmed the course of the north internal tower wall although other anomalies appeared inconsistent.

Gaimster, M. + Haith, C. + Bradley, J., 1999, Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1998, 240 (Article in Serial). SDV361737.

Hemyock Castle (ST135133). Summary of excavation and fabric recording carried out by S. R. Blaylock and T. H. Gent during consolidation works. The interior of the north-east round tower was excavated to the level of a chertstone cobbled floor, probably the prime medieval surface, which has a large post-hole of uncertain function at its centre.

Berry, N., 2004, Untitled Source, 3 (Report - Assessment). SDV47938.

Southwest Archaeology, 2005, The Site to the East of 'Castle Dene' Culmstock Road Hemyock Devon. Results of Archaeological Evaluation Trenches, Notes in App 1, App 3 (Report - Evaluation). SDV324791.

DCMS, 2006, Scheduled Monument Consent Letter (Correspondence). SDV324175.

SMC granted, subject to conditions, for proposed works at Hemyock Castle concerning the partial de-silting of the moat.

Allum, C., 2009, Land to the East of 'Castle Dene', Culmstock Road, Hemyock, Devon, 5 (Report - Excavation). SDV344454.

Tabor, R., 2010, A Medieval Building and Metalworking Debris on Land to the East of 'Castle Dene', Hemyock (Article in Serial). SDV347799.

Hughes, S., + Brook, K., 2019, Hemyock Castle, Culmstock Road, Hemyock, Mid Devon: Monitoring and Recording (Report - Watching Brief). SDV365704.

Archaeological monitoring and recording at Hemyock Castle, Culmstock Road, Hemyock, Devon (ST 1354 1327) was undertaken by AC archaeology during March 2018. The work comprised the monitoring of groundworks for a replacement water pipe. This linked the Guard Houses with the Manor House, with its route crossing the line of the former curtain wall and moat and into the courtyard of the 14th century

Archaeological features and deposits relating to the former defences of the castle were exposed. In addition to these, two phases of probable cobbled surface within the castle courtyard were also

Exposure of the castle moat and curtain wall comprised only the upper portions of these features. The curtain wall, which is breeched between the Gate House and northeast corner tower, survived below ground as a rubble core stripped of any faced masonry. Comparable removal or partial removal of the curtain wall basal courses was also exposed during the excavations in 1989 (Blaylock 1989). The
presence of made ground deposits that sealed the remains of the curtain wall and infilled the moat are likely to represent a phase of landscaping; undertaken to provide direct access to the Manor House.
Finds recovered from these deposits suggest that this modification took place during the 19th century.

The cobbled surfaces exposed immediately to the north of the Manor House clearly represented two phases. The cambered profile of the earlier of the two surfaces (1006) may have indicated that It represented a northeast to southwest aligned pathway. No dating was recovered from the earlier surface or its underlying clay levelling, but, based on the overlying 19th made ground (1005), it was of probable post-medieval origin. The later surface (1004), which overlay made ground 1005, was therefore of approximate 19th century date.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV112612Aerial Photograph: Horner, B.. 1993. DAP/VV. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 8-11.
SDV15340Migrated Record: 178.
SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 408c/408/275,408.
SDV275385Monograph: Parker, J.. 1859. Some Account of Domestic Architecture in England. Unknown. 355.
SDV324175Correspondence: DCMS. 2006. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter.
SDV324791Report - Evaluation: Southwest Archaeology. 2005. The Site to the East of 'Castle Dene' Culmstock Road Hemyock Devon. Results of Archaeological Evaluation Trenches. Southwest Archaeology Report. 050702. A4 stapled + Digital. Notes in App 1, App 3.
SDV325978Correspondence: Department of Environment. 1991. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter.
SDV336189Post-Graduate Thesis: Higham, R. A.. 1979. The Castles of Medieval Devon. University of Exeter Thesis. Unknown. 44,155-156,298,315,317-8, 321,332.
SDV339321Un-published: Hutchinson, P. O.. 1848-1894. Diaries. Devon Record Office Collection. Manuscript.
SDV341278Article in Serial: Higham, R. A.. 1988. Devon Castles: An Annotated List. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 46. Paperback Volume. 145.
SDV341465Article in Monograph: Wall, J. C.. 1906. Ancient Earthworks. Victoria History of the County of Devon. Hardback Volume. 623.
SDV344454Report - Excavation: Allum, C.. 2009. Land to the East of 'Castle Dene', Culmstock Road, Hemyock, Devon. Context One Archaeological Services Report. COAS/EXC/07/CRH. A4 Stapled + Digital. 5.
SDV344560Report - Excavation: Gent, T. H. + Blaylock, S. R.. 1999. Further Archaeological Excavations and Observations at Hemyock Castle, Devon, 1997-98. Exeter Archaeology Report. 98.29. A4 Stapled + Digital. 4-5.
SDV347799Article in Serial: Tabor, R.. 2010. A Medieval Building and Metalworking Debris on Land to the East of 'Castle Dene', Hemyock. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 68. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV354350Monograph: Higham, R. A. + Freeman, J. P.. 1996. Devon Castles (Draft Text). Devon Castles. A4 Unbound + Digital. 6, 9, 14, Gazetteer.
SDV361737Article in Serial: Gaimster, M. + Haith, C. + Bradley, J.. 1999. Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1998. Medieval Archaeology. 43. Unknown. 240.
SDV365704Report - Watching Brief: Hughes, S., + Brook, K.. 2019. Hemyock Castle, Culmstock Road, Hemyock, Mid Devon: Monitoring and Recording. AC Archaeology. ACD1798/2/0. Digital.
SDV36975List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1987. Hemyock. Historic Houses Register.
SDV47938Report - Assessment: Berry, N.. 2004. The Market Square, Hemyock: An Archaeological Assessment of the Development. 3.
SDV54004List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1959. Tiverton RD. Historic Houses Register. Unknown. 21.
SDV57546Article in Serial: Joce, T. J.. 1928 - 1929. Hemyock Castle. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 15. 182-3, 218.
SDV57553Article in Serial: Sherwin, C.. 1928-29. Hemyock Castle. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 15. 206.
SDV57554Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1984. DAP/AO. Devon Aerial Photograph. 12.
SDV57556Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. DAP/GC. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 4,6.
SDV57557Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1991. DAP/UG. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 11-15.
SDV58056Article in Serial: Chalk, E. S.. 1928-29. Hemyock Castle. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 15. 207.
SDV58058Report - Survey: Blaylock, S. R.. 1989. An Archaeological Survey of Hemyock Castle. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 89.03. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV58435Article in Serial: Pearse Chope, R.. 1911. The Lord Dynham's lands. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 43. 271.
SDV58436Article in Serial: Sherwin, C.. 1929. Transactions of the Exeter Diocese Architectural and Archaeological Society. 4. 47-63.
SDV58440Schedule Document: Ancient Monuments. 1953.
SDV58441Schedule Document: Ancient Monuments. 1974.
SDV58445Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1962. ST11SW2.
SDV58447Plan - measured: Cambell, J.. 1978.
SDV58448Cartographic: 1840s. Hemyock.
SDV58449Worksheet: Bagg + Ryan. 1980.
SDV58450Site Visit: Timms, S. C.. 1980.
SDV58451Site Visit: Higham, R. A.. 1984.
SDV58452Worksheet: Timms, S. C.. 1986.
SDV58456Article in Serial: Beverley, S. M. + Nenk, S. + Margeson, S. + Hurley, M.. 1992. Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1991. Medieval Archaeology. 36. PDF. 212, 214-215, Fig 16.
SDV58457Report - Geophysical Survey: Martin, L.. 1999. Hemyock Castle: Report on Geophysical Survey. English Heritage Centre for Archaeology Report. 14/99. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV58480Monograph: Sheppard, M.. 1988. Hemyock Castle: A History So Far. Hemyock Castle: A History So Far. A5 Paperback.
SDV58481Report - Watching Brief: Badock, C. + Hodgson, T.. 1985. Watching Brief of Hemyock Castle 1985.

Associated Monuments

MDV82782Parent of: Hemyock Castle Gatehouse and Curtain Walls (Building)
MDV72287Related to: Earthwork Platform, east of Castle Dene, Hemyock (Monument)
MDV19528Related to: Hemyock Castle House (Building)
MDV19529Related to: Hemyock Manor (Monument)
MDV40541Related to: Linhay and Stables at Hemyock Castle (Building)
MDV40542Related to: Outbuildings at Hemyock Castle (Building)

Associated Finds

  • FDV1539 - RIDGE TILE (Late Medieval - 1401 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FDV1538 - ROOF SLATE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1750 AD)
  • FDV1536 - SHERD (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1750 AD)
  • FDV1537 - SHERD (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1750 AD)
  • FDV1532 - ANIMAL REMAINS (XVIII - 1701 AD to 1800 AD)
  • FDV1533 - BOTTLE (XVIII - 1701 AD to 1800 AD)
  • FDV1534 - CLOTHING (XVIII - 1701 AD to 1800 AD)
  • FDV1535 - SHERD (XVIII - 1701 AD to 1800 AD)

Associated Events

  • EDV3044 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV3045 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV3046 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV3047 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV3048 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV3049 - An Archaeological Survey of Hemyock Castle
  • EDV4619 - Excavation and Watching Brief, Castle Dene, Hemyock
  • EDV4677 - Archaeological Excavations at Hemyock Castle, Devon, 1997-98
  • EDV4678 - Photographic Recording During Repairs at Hemyock Castle, Devon 1998
  • EDV8773 - Monitoring and Recording: Sunny Croft, Hemyock (Ref: ACD2634)
  • EDV8992 - Monitoring and Recording: Hemyock Castle, Culmstock Road, Hemyock, Mid Devon (Ref: ACD1798/2/0)

Date Last Edited:Nov 30 2023 4:25PM