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HER Number:MDV3859
Name:Motte and Bailey, Lamerton


Flat topped mound of clay and shillet situated at most constricted point of a ridge enclosed by loop in River Tamar. A strategic location overlooking the road leading to the lowest fordable point on the Tamar. Old field names, Great Castle, Little Castle and Castle Park, suggest that this was the site of a motte and bailey, probably of short duration. Earthworks of an oval mound with a surrounding outer ditch are visible on visualisations derived from lidar data captured in 2005.


Grid Reference:SX 400 739
Map Sheet:SX47SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishSydenham Damerel
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLAMERTON

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Earthworks of Motte and Bailey castle and west Devon Consols mine-workings, marked on nineteenth century mapping, at Lamerhooe

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX47SW/501
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX47SW6
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • MOTTE AND BAILEY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD (Between))

Full description

South West Heritage Trust, 1838-1848, Digitised Tithe Maps and Transcribed Apportionments (Cartographic). SDV359954.

Land parcels 38, 46 and 48 in this area are recorded as ‘Castle Park’, ‘Great Castle’ and ‘Little Castle’, respectively.

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

A circular feature is shown in this location.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1983 - 1986, SX47SW6 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV341350.

1. Site visit 17/07/1950. Earthen flat-topped mound, 3 metres high, 15 metres diameter across the top, 22 metres at the base, the top being horizontal and not parallel with slope of hill. Covered with conifers and elder bushes but condition fairly good. No surrounding ditch. It is regarded locally as having been made from the surplus earth from the drive nearby (Lamerhooe Drive). The name of the field is Castle Park.
2. Site visit 12/11/1983. Situated at the most constricted part of a ridge-backed spur and enclosed by a loop in the River Tamar. Flat topped mound of clay with shillet measuring 26.5 metres by 30 metres, the top is 15 metres by 18 metres across. In both cases the elongation is northwest to southeast, that is extended along the slope. On the southeast it is 1.7 metres high and 3.9 metres high on the northwest. The sides have been mutilated and the perimeter of the top trampled by cattle. Traces of a ditch, 5 metres wide and 0.2 metres deep can be detected around parts of the north and south sides. In 1950 the local farmer thought the mound to be material from Lamerhooe Drive, a carriageway built by a Duke of Bedford. The present farmer was told it was mining waste. However, neither theory is tenable. Lamerhooe Drive was made after 1882 and there is no mining in the immediate area. The neatness of the mound does not accord with casual dumping. The field in which the mound stands is now called 'Castle Park' but the 1840 Tithe Map shows the field sub-divided with a semi-circular field enclosing the area of the mound called 'Great Castle', with a small plot to the northeast called 'Little Castle'. 'Castle Park' was to the southwest of 'Great Castle'. The east boundary of 'Great Castle' survives today as a hedgebank 1.7 metres high and up to 2.0 metres thick, forming the outer edge of a parallel curved platform. At the northern end a faint rise in the field suggests that the platform once curved sharply towards the mound. A ditch, about 13 metres wide and 0.2 metres deep, can be traced corresponding approximately to the former western boundary. The field names evidently perpetuate the tradition of some form of fortification and it seems probable that the mound represents a motte with possibly a small bailey. The entrance would presumably have been on the south side, adjacent to the ridgeway road. Strategically it is well placed. The lack of documentary evidence save the field names suggests a minor fortification of brief duration as might occur during the period of the Anarchy. Other details: Copy of plan in Parish File.

Dyer, M. J. + Manning, P. T., 1998, Objective 5B: Lower Tamar Valley Recreation and Land Management Iinitiative: Cultural Heritage Appraisal, 30-31 (Report - non-specific). SDV319814.

Earthwork situated at the most constructed point of a southwest ridge enclosed by the River Tamar. Site would have controlled road leading to Latchley Ford, the lowest fordable point over the Tamar still in use. Described in the 18th century, in Dean Milles' Questionnaire as 'at Lamerhooe on the banks of the Tamar to guard a ford, opposite to another castle in Calstock, a Saxon fort on this side, a Danish on the other'.

Bastone, J., 2011, Motte at Lamerhooe (Ground Photograph). SDV355579.

Houghton, P., 2015, An Archaeological and Historical Report on The Excavations at Lamerhooe Volume Two - The Artefacts & Trench Details (Report - Assessment). SDV363266.

Details of the finds made during the excavation; mostly Victorian/Edwardian and agricultural in nature. Except was a couple of musket balls with a potential Civil War date. Also an overview of the excavated trenches provided.

Houghton, P., 2015, An Archaeological and Historical Report on The Upper Tamar Valley including Excavations at Lamerhooe Volume One, 65-103, fig 25-36 (Report - Assessment). SDV363240.

Author suggests that Lamerhooe may have had an earlier Iron Age enclosure (possibly a ringwork); plane table survey in 2013 indicates a possible elongated oval shape to the site, around the crest of the hill. No direct evidence currently to support this theory, although a potential parallel is drawn with the site in Burley Wood, Bridestowe (MDV1613), as well as noting contrasting sites Hembury and Blackdown Rings.
Results from the resistivity survey (2013-14) suggested that the castle may have been a circular stone structure, rather than a square timber watch tower as originally thought, although these remains may represent stone foundations for a timber tower. The structure covers most of the top of the motte and possibly 20 metres across, with walls at least 3 metres thick; may have been a two or three storey structure. Remains of stone walls can be seen around the site (fig 33) where the banks have worn away (originally this was assumed to be from the motte's construction. Magnetometry was not used on the motte itself, but throughout the bailey and an area to the west just outside the bailey (which identified no anomalies that could represent village remains). Within the bailey a number of buildings and enclosures were identified, including one structure some 20m by 10m, as well as indicating a possible entranceway on the south side of the motte castle. Results of the geophysics suggests the site may have operated as a watch tower with a small garrison, needing only a few buildings to quarter men and horses.
Lamerhooe has been largely ignored in documentary sources, suggesting it was a minor fortification in use for a short period. At the time of the English Heritage survey in the 1980s, local opinion was that the mound had been constructed from mining waste, in the 1950s, it was assumed that the mound represented waste from Lamerhooe Drive (a 19th century carriageway built by the Duke of Bedford), although evidence supports neither of these theories.
In March 2015, an excavation was carried out on the site of the motte and bailey to determine the construction of the mound and establish what, if any, structures were situated within the bailey. Four trenches were excavated; three on the motte mound and one in the bailey area to test the geophysics results indicating a possible building here. Three further 1m test pits were also excavated on the motte which revealed the existence of a cobbled surface probably forming part of a walkway between the palisade and tower. The excavation did not support the indication of the geophysics survive that the tower was stone built, instead it appears to have been timber as previously assumed. Finds were previously Victorian and Edwardian in date, although two musket balls of possible Civil War date were recovered. The site was concluded to be a minor watch tower site probably constructed by William I after 1066 as it would have provided a useful defensive site on the Devon-Cornwall border.

Environment Agency, 2019, LiDAR DTM data (1m resolution) EA: Tamar Aerial Survey project area, LIDAR Environment Agency LAST RETURN 20-FEB-2005 (Cartographic). SDV363954.

Earthworks of an oval mound with outer ditch are visible.

Ordnance Survey, 2020, MasterMap 2020 (Cartographic). SDV363413.

Earthworks labelled as 'Motte and Bailey' are shown in this location.

Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R., 2020-2021, Tamar/Lidar; A Single Source Approach to Landscape Survey and Socially Distanced Community Archaeology (AI&M project) (Interpretation). SDV363945.

Earthworks of a flat-topped oval mound, circa 23m long by 15m wide, surrounded by an outer ditch, 11m wide, are visible on visualisations derived from lidar data captured in 2005. Land parcels 38, 46 and 48 in this area on the mid-19th century Parish Tithe Map are recorded as ‘Castle Park’, ‘Great Castle’ and ‘Little Castle’, respectively, on the accompanying Tithe Apportionment. The earthwork mound also corresponds with a circular feature shown on the late 19th century First Edition Ordnance Survey map. Earthworks labelled as 'Motte and Bailey' are shown in this location on the 2020 Ordnance Survey MasterMap.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV319814Report - non-specific: Dyer, M. J. + Manning, P. T.. 1998. Objective 5B: Lower Tamar Valley Recreation and Land Management Iinitiative: Cultural Heritage Appraisal. Exeter Archaeology Report. 98.60. A4 Stapled + Digital. 30-31.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV341350Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1983 - 1986. SX47SW6. OSAD Card. Card Index + Digital.
SDV355579Ground Photograph: Bastone, J.. 2011. Motte at Lamerhooe. Digital.
SDV359954Cartographic: South West Heritage Trust. 1838-1848. Digitised Tithe Maps and Transcribed Apportionments. Tithe Map and Apportionment. Digital.
SDV363413Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2020. MasterMap 2020. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #127519 ]
SDV363945Interpretation: Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R.. 2020-2021. Tamar/Lidar; A Single Source Approach to Landscape Survey and Socially Distanced Community Archaeology (AI&M project). Historic England Research Report. Digital.
SDV363954Cartographic: Environment Agency. 2019. LiDAR DTM data (1m resolution) EA: Tamar Aerial Survey project area. Environment Agency LiDAR data. Digital. LIDAR Environment Agency LAST RETURN 20-FEB-2005.

Associated Monuments

MDV1613Related to: Motte and Baileys in Burley Wood, Bridestowe (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8159 - Plane table survey and geophysics at Lamerhooe castle, Lamerton
  • EDV8160 - Excavation at Lamerhooe castle, Lamerton
  • EDV8345 - Tamar/Lidar; A Single Source Approach to Landscape Survey and Socially Distanced Community Archaeology (AI&M) (Ref: ACD2380)

Date Last Edited:Nov 20 2020 9:22AM