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HER Number:MDV58662
Name:Blockhouse at Gommerock


Site of a 16th century or earlier blockhouse 'Building F' at Gommerock


Grid Reference:SX 888 505
Map Sheet:SX85SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishKingswear
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishKINGSWEAR

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX85SE/8/5

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • BLOCKHOUSE (XV to XVI - 1500 AD to 1600 AD (Between))

Full description

Wilson-North, R., 1996, Gommerock, Kingswear: An Archaeological Survey by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 3 (Report - Survey). SDV342799.

Building 1 at Gommerock described in 1936 as the 'chain tower' lies close to the water's edge to the southwest of Gommerock tower. The eastern side is a vertical rockface with three rows of sockets cut into it. A square socket is visible cut into the rock floor at the foot of the wall which may have been the anchoring point for the harbour chain although it is now clear that the chain was anchored to the rocks below this point. Other details: Figure 2.

Watts, M. A., 1997, Archaeological and Historical Survey at Gomerock, Kingswear, 16 (Report - Survey). SDV173198.

Gomerock 'Building F'. The Blockhouse survives as a rock-cut terrace lying just above the shore. The main axis is northwest to southeast, and by far the most substantial survival is the rock-cut northeast wall. The vertical wall face, which measures 11.2 metres long and stands up to 6 metres above the rock-cut floor, is the only feature at Gomerock which is clearly visible from the west side of the estuary. Cut into it are 3 rows of joist sockets. The upper row contains 10 large sockets, circa 0.25 metres square, 0.15 metres deep and 4.5 metres above ground level. Four sockets have been partially lost due to deterioration of the rock. The middle row comprises 12 large sockets, 0.3 metres square, 0.15 metres deep and 2.2 metres above ground level. The lower row consists of 15 smaller sockets, 0.15 metres square, 0.15 metres deep and only 1.1 metres above ground level. At the top of the wall face a narrow terrace cut circa 1.75 metres into the hillslope. At the base of the wall face, and slightly northwest of centre, lies a pit, 0.92 metres square and 0.42 metres deep. This is cut into the bedrock floor of the building. Internally the building measures circa 10 metres by 5 metres. Two of the other 3 sides of the building, to southwest and southeast, are defined partly by rock-cut faces. The height of the southeast face at its junction with the tall northeast face is 3.5 metres, but it falls rapidly away to only 0.6 metres at the southern corner of the building. The low rock-cut face to the southwest is surmounted by up to 0.5 metres of surviving masonry and contains a central opening, 1.35 metres by 0.7 metres, marking the entrance. The southwest inner door jamb has a mortared rebate for a timber door frame. Further masonry is apparent at the northwest end of this wall beyond the rock-cut face. No evidence survives of a northwest wall except for a small rock projection from the northeast face. The rock-cut floor continues to the edge of the cliff, a drop of c.irca 4.4 metres to the rocky inlet below. There has clearly been erosion on this side of the building since it was erected. Precise date of construction uncertain, although a 1490/91 reference to a 'bulwark begun on the Kingswear side for the defence of the port' is thought more likely to refer to Gomerock than to Kingswear Castle. The Earl of Surrey's report of 1522 seems to confirm that the blockhouse had been built by then. It was clearly constructed for harbour defence, whereas the tower-house had been built as a private residence and served as such down to at least the early 17th century. The blockhouse would appear to have been built to protect the Medieval boom. The main entrance is positioned to provide ready access to the boom chain terminal. The building was rectangular with at least 2, probably 3 floors. The purpose of the pit within the blockhouse is unknown; it could have been associated with a repositioned boom chain terminal. The mortared revetment wall (Structure G) could be earlier than or contemporary with the blockhouse. It may have served as a battery for guns positioned in the open. The fate of the blockhouse is also unclear. It is not specifically referred to in 1644. The 1650 reference to 'the 2 blockhouses' may refer to the Gomerock blockhouse, but this is not conclusive. Bucks' engraving of 1734 shows no evidence of the blockhouse, and the reference in 1717 to 'Goodman's ruins' is referring to Gomerock Castle itself. The blocking of the landing steps implies that at some stage access from the water was no longer desired, possibly during the Royalist occupation of the Civil War. Other details: Figures 10-11,21-24 and Plate 23.

English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West, 105 (Report - non-specific). SDV355280.

Generally satisfactory but with significant localised problems. Declining.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV173198Report - Survey: Watts, M. A.. 1997. Archaeological and Historical Survey at Gomerock, Kingswear. Exeter Archaeology Report. 97.61. A4 Stapled + Digital. 16.
SDV342799Report - Survey: Wilson-North, R.. 1996. Gommerock, Kingswear: An Archaeological Survey by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 3.
SDV355280Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2011. Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West. english Heritage. Digital. 105.

Associated Monuments

MDV58666Related to: Boom Chain Terminal southwest of Gommerock (Monument)
MDV8520Related to: Gomerock Tower, West of Castle Road (Monument)
MDV58664Related to: Landing Place south of Gommerock (Monument)
MDV58663Related to: Wall and Steps at Gommerock (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4542 - Survey of Features at Gommerock, Kingswear
  • EDV4543 - Survey of Features at Gomerock

Date Last Edited:Mar 11 2020 11:48AM