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HER Number:MDV82782
Name:Hemyock Castle Gatehouse and Curtain Walls


The gatehouse and remains of the castle walls date from the late 14th century, a licence to crenellate having been granted in 1380. The curtain walls survive on three sides; the foundations of the fourth, west side, were found during excavation. Towers survive at the north-west and north-east corners. The gatehouse in the east wall is formed by a similar pair of towers.


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

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CURTAIN WALL (XIV to Unknown - 1380 AD)
  • GATEHOUSE (XIV to Unknown - 1380 AD)

Full description

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

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 ruinous curtain walls survive on three sides and, 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.

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

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

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

English Heritage, 2015, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV357602.

Hemyock Castle Gatehouse and Curtain Walls (formerly listed Castle Gatehouse and Walls). 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 C13 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 4 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.

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 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 castle.

The work exposed archaeological features and deposits relating to the former defences of the castle. This comprised the exposure of the top of the backfilled moat and curtain wall.

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 deposit suggest that this modification took place during the 19th century.

A collection of finds were recovered, most of which were of 18th to 19th century date. A small quantity of pottery dating to the 15th to 16th centuries was also recovered as residual finds amongst the later material.

Sources / Further Reading

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.
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: #108315 ]
SDV357602National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2015. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital.
SDV365704Report - Watching Brief: Hughes, S., + Brook, K.. 2019. Hemyock Castle, Culmstock Road, Hemyock, Mid Devon: Monitoring and Recording. AC Archaeology. ACD1798/2/0. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV1894Part of: Hemyock Castle (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4677 - Archaeological Excavations at Hemyock Castle, Devon, 1997-98
  • EDV4678 - Photographic Recording During Repairs at Hemyock Castle, Devon 1998
  • EDV8992 - Monitoring and Recording: Hemyock Castle, Culmstock Road, Hemyock, Mid Devon (Ref: ACD1798/2/0)

Date Last Edited:Nov 22 2023 3:35PM