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HER Number:MDV456
Name:Durpley Castle, Shebbear


The remains of a motte and bailey castle which was probably constructed in the 11th-12th century.


Grid Reference:SS 429 125
Map Sheet:SS41SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishShebbear
Ecclesiastical ParishSHEBBEAR

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 32956
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS41SW/2
  • Old SAM County Ref: 44
  • Old SAM Ref: 28650
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SS41SW6

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

Risdon, T., 1811, Choreographical Description of Devon, 1580-1640 (Monograph). SDV20653.

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

Circular enclosure. Covering about half an acre.

Parry, J. A., 1867, On the Remains of Ancient Fortifications in the Neighbourhood of Bideford, 104 (Article in Serial). SDV339185.

Description as others although the site is interpreted as an Iron Age enclosure with outwork. Near the centre of the enclosure is a circular excavation, 9 metres diameter by 4.5-6 metres deep. Function unknown, possibly Prehistoric corn store.

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

'Durpley Castle' in Castle Wood shown on 19th century map.

Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 620 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.

Durpley Castle: motte and bailey. Sited on top of a conical hill, the apex of which forms the motte, 4.57 metres high. This has a crater-like hollow in its centre, 9.1 metres diameter by 3.6 metres deep and a motte ditch. The bailey occupies just over 1 acre on the west side of the motte and is defended by a double rampart, and outer ditch, staggered entrance, that into the ditch being on the west side, whilst the gateway to the bailey is on the south. Other details: Plan and Section.

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

Description and plan. Other details: Figure 121.

Ministry of Works, 1923, Durpley Castle (Schedule Document). SDV339257.

Durpley Castle was visited on 2nd May 1922. The ground is covered with good-sized timber.

Doe, G. M., 1939, Address of the President, 48 (Article in Serial). SDV14615.

Brief description.

Oliver, B. W., 1948, Notes on Shebbear and Durpley Castle, 165 (Article in Serial). SDV6089.

A medieval castle possibly imposed on an earlier earthwork. Entrance on north? Much overgrown in 1948 Other details: Plan and Section.

Pevsner, N., 1952, The Buildings of England: North Devon, 82 (Monograph). SDV336196.

Much overgrown motte and bailey built on a conical hill. Motte still rises 15 feet above bailey.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1961 - 1978, SS41SW6 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV339256.

Durpley Castle motte and bailey a Medieval earthwork situated in woodland. Overall dimensions are 90 metres by 65 metres. Motte diameter 46 metres, height averages 3.8 metres, ditch 0.6 metres deep. A large circular pit in the top of the motte.measures 9 metres diameter by 1.4 metres deep. The bailey measures approximately 40 metres by 25 metres. No staggered entrance but a rather simple one on the south-west side. Some quarrying has occurred on the north side of bailey. Other details: Plan.

Higham, R. A., 1979, The Castles of Medieval Devon, 118-119,247,249,279,310, 315,321,317 (Post-Graduate Thesis). SDV336189.

An undocumented castle in an area of royal ownership, which together with its nearness to Woodford Castle suggests a foundation date during the civil wars of 1130's and 1140's. The castle was probably the centre of a discrete but small estate. An adulterine castle (i.e. unlicensed). Other details: Fig 33.

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

Griffith, F. M., 1989, DAP/LI, 3-4 (Aerial Photograph). SDV345017.

Higham, R. A. + Freeman, J. P., 1996, Devon Castles (Draft Text), 11, Gazetteer (Monograph). SDV354350.

The earthwork remains of a motte and bailey castle situated on a conical hill and the end of a ridge overlooking the confluence of two tributaries of the river Torridge. Although there is no medieval documentation for the castle it is presumed to be 11th-12th century in date, either constructed during the initial Norman conquest of Devon, the subsequent consolidation of estates or the civil war of Stephen's reign.
The remains comprise a motte about 4 metres high and 45 metres in diameter surrounded by a ditch. A deep pit in the top suggests the foundations of a large structure. The bailey is crecent-shaped, about 40 by 12 metres at its greatest extent.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 1997, Durpley Castle (Schedule Document). SDV339258.

Durpley Castle includes a Medieval motte and bailey castle situated on an inland spur overlooking valleys to tributaries of the River Torridge to the east, south and west. The ground slopes steeply into these valleys to the north-east, east and south, but is less steep to the north and west. The monument has a circular motte with its outer ditch, a D-shaped bailey with its rampart and ditch, and an outer bank or rampart. The site is aligned east to west, with the motte to the east and the bailey to the west. The motte is circular in shape with a diameter of 33 metres, and is 6.4 metres high. The mound itself has slumped slightly to the south and this has caused the part infilling of the ditch. The centre of the mound contains a sub-circular depression which measures 6.5 metres in diameter and is up to 3 metres deep. Surrounding the motte is a ditch which measures 3.6 metres wide and varies in depth from 0.4 metres on the eastern side to 1.2 metres on the west. The D-shaped bailey, which slopes gently to the south, is defined by a rampart, and this encloses an area which measures 37.2 metres long from north to south and 25.6 metres wide from east to west. Surface undulations within this area may indicate the presence of internal structures. The rampart of the bailey survives on all sides, although it has been cut in several places to facilitate access. The ditch surrounding the bailey measures up to 4.4 metres wide by 1.2 metres deep. Beyond the ditch is an outer rampart which measures up to 6 metres wide and 0.6 metres high.

National Monuments Record, 2010, 32956 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV345018.

Ordnance Survey, 2010, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV344030.

'Durpley Castle' shown on modern mapping in Castle Wood.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV11975Monograph: Allcroft, A. H.. 1908. Earthwork of England. Earthwork of England. Unknown. 405.
SDV14615Article in Serial: Doe, G. M.. 1939. Address of the President. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 71. A5 Hardback. 48.
SDV16214Un-published: Woollcombe, H.. 1839-1850. Woollcombe Manuscript. Manuscript.
SDV20653Monograph: Risdon, T.. 1811. Choreographical Description of Devon, 1580-1640. Choreographical Description of Devon, 1580-1640. Unknown.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336189Post-Graduate Thesis: Higham, R. A.. 1979. The Castles of Medieval Devon. University of Exeter Thesis. Unknown. 118-119,247,249,279,310, 315,321,317.
SDV336196Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1952. The Buildings of England: North Devon. The Buildings of England: North Devon. Paperback Volume. 82.
SDV339185Article in Serial: Parry, J. A.. 1867. On the Remains of Ancient Fortifications in the Neighbourhood of Bideford. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 2. Unknown. 104.
SDV339256Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1961 - 1978. SS41SW6. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV339257Schedule Document: Ministry of Works. 1923. Durpley Castle. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV339258Schedule Document: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 1997. Durpley Castle. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
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. 620.
SDV344030Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2010. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #92530 ]
SDV345017Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1989. DAP/LI. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 3-4.
SDV345018National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 2010. 32956. National Monuments Record Database. Website.
SDV354350Monograph: Higham, R. A. + Freeman, J. P.. 1996. Devon Castles (Draft Text). Devon Castles. A4 Unbound + Digital. 11, Gazetteer.
SDV6089Article in Serial: Oliver, B. W.. 1948. Notes on Shebbear and Durpley Castle. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 80. A5 Hardback. 165.

Associated Monuments

MDV126015Related to: Enclosure to south-east of Combe Farm House, Newton St Petrock (Monument)
MDV19489Related to: Shebbear, Moortown Shrunken Settlement (Monument)
MDV159Related to: Woodford Wood Motte and Bailey (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jul 10 2019 11:59AM