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HER Number:MDV8520
Name:Gomerock Tower, West of Castle Road, Kingswear


Remains of Gomerock, a medieval tower house to the south of Kingswear, also known as Gommerock and Godmerock.


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

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 446014
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX85SE/8
  • Old SAM County Ref: 185
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX85SE 10
  • Tide Project: 24/03/2020

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FORT (XIV to XV - 1301 AD to 1500 AD (Between))

Full description

Ministry of Works, Gomerock (tower) (Schedule Document). SDV342804.

A very overgrown small tower with a moulded jamb on the southwest side. ?15th century. This is the "other tower" mentioned in 1481 at the time of the establishment of the chain across Dartmouth Haven from Dartmouth Castle. The chain itself ended in a penthouse a short way below this tower, which must have served as a guard-house. The tower may have been in existence before this date.

Adams, M., 1900, The Castle, Manor-house and Church of Clifton, near Dartmouth, 506 (Article in Serial). SDV172286.

Ruins of a round fort with terrace below, on which are the remains of a square tower into which the chain from Clifton Castle was led.

Hine-Hancock, A. L., 1933, Kittery, 234-5 (Article in Serial). SDV176860.

Formed part of the estate of Kittery Court in the post-medieval period. Referred to as the 'old castell'.

O'Neil, B. H. St J., 1935, Dartmouth Castle and other defences in Dartmouth Haven, 129-58 (Article in Serial). SDV177411.

Russell, P., 1950, Untitled Source, 42,114-5 (Monograph). SDV342790.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1952, SX85SE10 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV342794.

While re-surveying Kingswear in 1952 the Ordnance Survey found a substantial ruin in the grounds of the Fountain Violet Club which was formerly Brookhill. The ruins had not been recorded on earlier Ordnance Survey maps. The ruins are the remains of a fort called 'Gommerock' which was later superseded as a defence work by the building of Kingswear Castle in 1491.

Russell, P. + Yorke, G., 1953, Kingswear and its Neighbourhood, 70-2 (Article in Serial). SDV176862.

Godmerock Castle. First reference to a castle here is in 1580; in 1590 it is described as 'a toft' and all the walls called 'old castelle', and had presumably been superseded by Kingswear. By this date, outworks possibly existed where the tennis court now is, although a 1734 engraving shows the building as now, ie a rectangular tower 10.9 metres by 1.23 metres set lengthways on a steep slope. The roof has gone, but the walls are intact; the upper walls have a rock-cut ditch around them and are surmounted by a rampart walk and papapet. Immediately below the castle is a platform cut out of the solid slate, presumably made about 1490, and used to hold one end of the chain across the estuary. It was later used as a battery, and the castle was probably ruined in 1643.

Saunders, A. D., 1965, Dartmouth Castle (Pamphlet). SDV173182.

Everett, A. W., 1968, Gomerock (Correspondence). SDV342800.

Other details: Three letters.

Rigold, S. E., 1969, Gomerock Castle (Correspondence). SDV342805.

Gomerock Tower. A door leads from a flat platform, towards the cliff, into two unlit ground floor chambers each with a fireplace. The outer chamber has been altered and has an oven. There are clear signs of the floor and an altered and blocked window to light the upper storey. In the second chamber is a two stage stair which rises to a rock platform in the northern angle which leads to a cutting in the wall.

Higham, R. A., 1979, The Castles of Medieval Devon, 48,172-4 (Post-Graduate Thesis). SDV336189.

National Trust, 1984, East Dart, Devon, 14 (Report - Survey). SDV338477.

Robinson, R., 1984, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV342784.

Fileld Monument Warden visit on 6th March 1984.

Higham, R. A., 1988, Devon Castles: An Annotated List, 146 (Article in Serial). SDV341278.

Licence to crenellate in 1403.

Wilson-North, R., 1996, Gommerock, Kingswear: An Archaeological Survey by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 2-3 (Report - Survey). SDV342799.

Gommerock is an unroofed polygonal structure 20 metres by 12 metres by up to 6 metres high. The building occupies a partially rock-cut platform resulting in the north eastern or landward side built at a higher level joined by a flight of steps. Two fireplaces, an oven and a blocked window are visible. The south western entrance is accessed by a path around the south eastern part of the building. The precise date and function of Gommerockare unclear but it is presumed to be of Medieval date and may have been constructed in the 15th century. At least four other buildings are grouped around Gommerock and are probably contemporaneous. The area around Gommerock was used in the late 19th and early 20th century for recreational purposes. Other details: Figure 2.

Watts, M. A., 1997, Archaeological and Historical Survey at Gomerock, Kingswear, 10-13 (Report - Survey). SDV173198.

Gomerock Castle lies half a mile southeast of Kingswear and circa 50 metres from the estuary shore. Medieval tower-house, built in the late 14th or 15th century. Polygonal in plan with walls surviving up to a height of 7 metres. Interior largely clear of rubble and vegetation; however, the north, northeast and east external elevations are obscured by dense vegetation and, to some extent, by rubble from the walls. Ground floor comprises a roughly square rock-cut terrace enclosed by walls to southwest, southeast and northwest. To the northeast is a rock face which was formerly revetted by a wall completing a rectangular plan at ground level. At first floor level the northeast end of the building is pointed, with walls on its north and east sides that are continuous with the walls forming the main body of the building. All exterior walls are over 2 metres thick and appear to be clay bonded. Overall external dimensions are approximately 18 metres by 13 metres. Other details: Figures 11-16 and Plates 1-14.

Blaylock, S., 1997, Gomerock Castle, Kingswear: Notes and Suggestions for the Management of Vegetation (Un-published). SDV354571.

The site of Gomerock Castle is now set amongst thick woodland vegetation, which for much of the time is undisturbed by human traffic. A great deal of clearance of plant growth in and on the buildings has been carried out in recent years, and this has improved the condition and appearance of the major buildings. It is the purpose of this report to suggest further ways in which the control of plant growth can proceed, assuming that there is to be some regular attention in years to come, and to attempt to provide guidelines within which the matter might be managed.

Soil formation and growth on the tops of the walls have provided a ready-made soft wall capping, which will be protecting the walls and although this would not be the preferred condition of wall tops at a consolidated monument open to the public such as Dartmoor Castle across the water, in this context it is a tolerable option.

Another beneficial effect of limited plant growth on walls is the binding effect that roots can have on loose masonry. Thus plans can actually hold walls together in the short term, and this would appear to be happening in may places at Gomerock. Conversely the case may be put that the total removal of plant growth (when not supported by consolidation of masonry), can actually promote the collapse of structures. Although this is not a long-term solution, it should be borne in mind in the shorter term and limited growth be permitted to continue, especially where there is loose, but otherwise stable, masonry on wall tops etc.

The real enemies are ivy and woody plant growth. The simple aim here should be to prevent the establishment of either by spread or by saplings. The management of established plants is a more complex problem.

It should be pointed out that some human traffic is good for keeping down plant growth. One aspect of the management of the site that could be considered is increasing the presently very limited or non-existent public access. Although occasional tours may seem to have a slight effect as hardly to make a difference, visits by interested parties can have many beneficial effects, and perhaps should be considered on a more formal basis.

Gaimster, M. + Haith, C. + Bradley, J., 1999, Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1998, 240-1 (Article in Serial). SDV361737.

Kingswear, Gomerock Castle. Survey and fabric recording were carried out by M. A. Watts for English Heritage and Devon County Council following vegetation clearance. A number of features were surveyed on the steep rocky shoreline below the castle. In the intertidal zone these include landing steps and a rounded boss of rock carved out of the cliff face and encircled by a groove for a cable. This represents the east terminal of the Dartmouth boom chain, first documented in 1462, whose west end, from the 1490s, was accommodated in Dartmouth Castle (see related records for detail).
Tower house, three storeys high, probably built in early 15th century and abandoned in the 17th century.

Wild, P. (English Heritage), 1999, Section 17 Management Agreement: Gomerock Castle, Kingwear (Correspondence). SDV342788.

Three year management agreement concluded by English Heritage for the care and maintenance of Gomerock Castle in Kingswear.

English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West, 108 (Report - non-specific). SDV342694.

Generally satisfactory condition, but with significant localised problems.

Ordnance Survey, 2009, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV341569.

'Gommerock (remains of)' shown on modern mapping as a polygonal structure to the south east of Kingswear.

English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West, 102 (Report - non-specific). SDV344777.

Pink, F., 2014, South Devon Coast Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey Desk-Based Assessment (Interpretation). SDV357736.

Toogood, R., Unknown, Gomerock Tower, Kingswear (Ground Photograph). SDV354666.

Four photographs of the interior of the remains of Gomerock Tower.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV172286Article in Serial: Adams, M.. 1900. The Castle, Manor-house and Church of Clifton, near Dartmouth. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 32. A5 Hardback. 506.
SDV173182Pamphlet: Saunders, A. D.. 1965. Dartmouth Castle. Department of Environment Guide. Unknown.
SDV173198Report - Survey: Watts, M. A.. 1997. Archaeological and Historical Survey at Gomerock, Kingswear. Exeter Archaeology Report. 97.61. A4 Stapled + Digital. 10-13.
SDV176860Article in Serial: Hine-Hancock, A. L.. 1933. Kittery. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 17. Unknown. 234-5.
SDV176862Article in Serial: Russell, P. + Yorke, G.. 1953. Kingswear and its Neighbourhood. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 85. A5 Hardback. 70-2.
SDV177411Article in Serial: O'Neil, B. H. St J.. 1935. Dartmouth Castle and other defences in Dartmouth Haven. Archaeologia. 85. Unknown. 129-58.
SDV336189Post-Graduate Thesis: Higham, R. A.. 1979. The Castles of Medieval Devon. University of Exeter Thesis. Unknown. 48,172-4.
SDV338477Report - Survey: National Trust. 1984. East Dart, Devon. National Trust Archaeological Survey Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 14.
SDV341278Article in Serial: Higham, R. A.. 1988. Devon Castles: An Annotated List. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 46. Paperback Volume. 146.
SDV341569Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2009. MasterMap. MasterMap. Digital.
SDV342694Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2009. Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West. English Heritage Report. A4 Bound +Digital. 108.
SDV342784Personal Comment: Robinson, R.. 1984.
SDV342788Correspondence: Wild, P. (English Heritage). 1999. Section 17 Management Agreement: Gomerock Castle, Kingwear. Letter. A4 Single Sheet.
SDV342790Monograph: Russell, P.. 1950. Dartmouth. Unknown. 42,114-5.
SDV342794Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1952. SX85SE10. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
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. 2-3.
SDV342800Correspondence: Everett, A. W.. 1968. Gomerock. Letter. A4 Stapled.
SDV342804Schedule Document: Ministry of Works. Gomerock (tower). The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV342805Correspondence: Rigold, S. E.. 1969. Gomerock Castle. Letter + Plan. A4 Stapled.
SDV344777Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2010. Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West. English Heritage Report. Digital. 102.
SDV354571Un-published: Blaylock, S.. 1997. Gomerock Castle, Kingswear: Notes and Suggestions for the Management of Vegetation. A4 Stapled.
SDV354666Ground Photograph: Toogood, R.. Unknown. Gomerock Tower, Kingswear. Photograph (Paper).
SDV357736Interpretation: Pink, F.. 2014. South Devon Coast Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey Desk-Based Assessment. AC Archaeology Report. ACD618/4/3. Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV361737Article in Serial: Gaimster, M. + Haith, C. + Bradley, J.. 1999. Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1998. Medieval Archaeology. 43. Unknown. 240-1.

Associated Monuments

MDV8519Related to: Artillery fort at Dartmouth Castle (Building)
MDV58658Related to: Bakery at Gommerock (Monument)
MDV58669Related to: Bank and Ditch south of Gommerock (Monument)
MDV58662Related to: Blockhouse at Gommerock (Monument)
MDV58666Related to: Boom Chain Terminal southwest of Gommerock (Monument)
MDV58659Related to: Building C at Gommerock (Monument)
MDV58660Related to: Building D at Gommerock (Monument)
MDV8540Related to: Kingswear Castle, Kingswear (Building)
MDV17597Related to: Kittery Court, Kingswear (Building)
MDV58664Related to: Landing Place south of Gommerock (Monument)
MDV74327Related to: Pet Cemetery at Gommerock (Monument)
MDV58665Related to: Steps southwest of Gommerock (Monument)
MDV58667Related to: Tennis Court southeast of Gommerock (Monument)
MDV58663Related to: Wall and Steps at Gommerock (Monument)
MDV58661Related to: Wall and Terrace at Gommerock (Monument)
MDV58668Related to: Wall south of Gommerock (Monument)
MDV39413Related to: World War II Pillbox west of Kingswear Court (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

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

Date Last Edited:Mar 24 2020 8:57AM