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HER Number:MDV8525
Name:Bayard's Cove Castle, Dartmouth


Bayard's Cove Castle, also known as Bearscore, was built in the 16th century and used for storage from the mid 17th century. It was used as a machine gun post during World War II.


Grid Reference:SX 878 509
Map Sheet:SX85SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishDartmouth
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishST.SAVIOURS

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX85SE/11
  • Old Listed Building Ref (I): 387168
  • Old SAM County Ref: 130
  • Old SAM Ref: 22213
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX85SE12
  • Tide Project: 19/08/2020

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • ARTILLERY FORT (Built, XVI - 1501 AD (Between) to 1600 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1855-1895, First Edition 1:500 Town Map (Cartographic). SDV338879.

'Bayard's Cove Castle' shown.

Adams, M., 1900, The Castle, Manor-house and Church of Clifton, near Dartmouth, 508 (Article in Serial). SDV172286.

Remains of old castle in Bayard's Cove, built in 1502.

Office of Works, 1934, Bayard's Cove Castle (Schedule Document). SDV340997.

Remains of Bearscore or Bayard's Cove Castle. A somewhat irregular semi-circular stone built fortification about 18.3 metres across either way, with shore side formed by natural cliff, 9.0 metres high, with houses and gardens above. Stone battery never roofed. Wall, 4.9 metres high, 1.50 metres thick, unsquared but cemented hewn stone. There were ten embrasures some of which are now filled up. One serves as an entrance. The other entrance is a square moulded arch, distorted by time. There is a right of way through both entrances. In the thickness of the wall a parapet and walk, now inaccessible, passes round the top. It seems to have been approached by ladders - no trace of a staircase. The local guide book dates it to 1502 but gives no authority; local correspondent inclined to date it 150 years later as he thinks embrasures unnecessarily large for the artillery of the day.

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

Bearscore Castle was probably built circa 1510 to protect the southern end of Dartmouth from seaborne attack.

O'Neil, B. H. St J., 1945, Unknown, 154 (Article in Serial). SDV173184.

Russell, P., 1947 - 1949, Dartmouth: Pre-reformation the Castle and St Petrox, 200 (Article in Serial). SDV172956.

The castle, or stone battery, at Bayard's Cove is referred to in a document of 1537.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1955, SX85SE12 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV341006.

Department of Environment, 1972, Dartmouth (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV155627.

16th century fortification with rounded corners, stone, 12 arched openings seaward, mainly gun ports. Rock outcrop inland.

Devon County Council, 1975, Dartmouth - Walk about in the Conservation Area & Exploring Dartmouth and Kingswear, 35, 37 (Article in Monograph). SDV352452.

Griffith, F. M., 1986, DAP/FX, 2,2a (Aerial Photograph). SDV22609.

Griffith, F. M., 1987, DAP/IB, 6 (Aerial Photograph). SDV312427.

Cathcart King, D. J., 1988, The Castle in England and Wales, 174 (Monograph). SDV341007.

Timms, S. C., 1993, Bayard's Cove Castle (Site Visit). SDV341001.

Site in care of Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission. Reports of masonry blocks from wall tops thrown into river.

Saunders, A. D., 1993, Dartmouth Castle, 24-5 (Monograph). SDV174434.

Department of National Heritage, 1994, Dartmouth, 28 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV157498.

Bearscove Castle (or Bayard's Cove Castle). Small artillery castle, built to protect the town quay. Possibly 1509-10 on documentary evidence, it was certainly in existence by 1537. Local limestone rubble. Plan: A platform cut into the rock enclosed by a thick curving wall projecting into the estuary. Exterior: Thick rubble wall with a regular series of putlog holes. Doorway on northern side onto the quay (although, according to Freeman, the quay did not extend this far until 1839). It is a plain doorway with an irregular 2-centred arch head under a hoodmould. 11 splayed gunports externally rebated for shutters; they are designed for guns mounted on flat beds. Parapet mostly collapsed but the bottom courses remain, projecting slightly on a row of small corbels. Interior: Unroofed. Remains of stone steps to wallwalk. Sockets for timbers in cliff to rear from old lean-to structures - the place was apparantly used for storage in times of peace. Bearscove Castle is sited at the end of a fine and picturesque row of listed buildings on the old town quay.

Gerrard, S., 1995, 130560 (Un-published). SDV341002.

Early 16th century artillery blockhouse forming part of a series of defensive positions built from the latter part of the 15th century to protect the important natural harbour at Dartmouth. Documentary evidence suggests that the blockhouse was constructed sometime after 1509 and was certainly in existence by 1537 when it is mentioned as the New Castle in a Dartmouth Corporation lease. In 1553-54 Leland described it as a fair bulwark, built of late. During the English Civil War the blockhouse was held by both sides, but in 1646 following its capture by the Parliamentarians, it was described as containing 5 great iron guns which commanded the river. From this date, Bayard's Cove Castle was probably used for storage purposes, although it was pressed into active service for a short time during World War II, when it was used as a machine gun post. The blockhouse survives as an irregular shaped platform cut into the cliff face, enclosed by a 1.5 metre thick and 4.9 metre high local limestone rubble mortared wall. The interior measures 16 metres east to west by 15.5 metres north to south and is defined on the west side by a 6 metre high cliff. At ground level the wall is pierced by 11 equally spaced gunports, each with an internal splay, and externally rebated for shutters. One of these gunports has been enlarged to allow entry to the blockhouse and its neighbour has been partly blocked by the building of a set of steps which now climb the hillside immediately s of the monument. Access to a wall walk was gained by a stone stairway built against the inner face of the n wall. Although the lower part of this has been removed, wall scarring clearly shows its original position and character. The wall walk itself is protected by a parapet which projects outwards and could have given shelter to musketeers. This wall walk also gives access to a small area immediately west of the rockface and the possibility of gunners accommodation being sited here and the wall walk being used for access to the artillery pieces can not be discounted. The original access to the blockhouse was through an entrance situated in the north wall and this survives as an arched passageway which has become somewhat distorted. On the exterior a square moulded arch survives above the entrance and whilst this may be simply a decorative feature the possibility exists that this indicates the original shape of the entrance. The irregular shape of this structure has been seen as a response to the local topography, however a butt join visible on the exterior wall immediately to the east of the gunport through which an entrance has been cut, may indicate more than a single construction phase. This conclusion is supported by the use of different materials in the parapet either side of the join and the marked change in the direction of the wall at this point. The precise character of the first phase building is unknown but it may have been a small circular tower similar in character to the one originally planned for nearby Dartmouth Castle. Within the blockhouse wall scars visible on the rock face represent the traces of buildings which may survive partly as buried features. These buildings may be contemporary with the active military use of the structure or may belong to a time when it was used solely for storage.

Department of Environment, 1996, Bayard's Cove Castle: a blockhouse in Dartmouth (Schedule Document). SDV341008.

Exeter Archaeology, 1998, Worksheet (Worksheet). SDV341004.

Watching brief on the removal of a bollard demonstrated makeup levels of clay and shale to 0.5 metres depth.

Collings, A. G. + Henderson, C. G., 1999, The History of Bayard's Cove Castle, Dartmouth (Report - non-specific). SDV341005.

The historical, documentary and archaeological evidence are reviewed. The fort was built by Dartmouth Corporation circa 1530 and maintained as a military site until the Civil War. Post-military uses and history of the site are also discussed.

Mottershead, D. N., 2000, Weathering of Coastal Defensive Structures in South-West England: A 500 Year Stone Durability Trial, 1143-59 (Article in Serial). SDV173200.

A geomorphological weathering experiment was conducted at historic sites exposed to coastal salt weathering for 500-600 years. The lithology of Bayard's Fort belongs to the Dartmouth Group which has a high rock density but the high feldspar and chlorite content reduce durability.

Batty, M., 2003, South Devon Coast Path Project: a study of the archaeology along the coast path in the South Hams from Staddon Heights to Sharkham Point, 86 (Un-published). SDV336214.

Mottershead, D. N., 2004, Local Variability of Marine Influence on Coastal Rock Weathering Rates: A Long Term Study, 229-52 (Article in Monograph). SDV173204.

Ordnance Survey, 2013, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV350786.

Historic England, 2022, Bayard's Cove Castle, Dartmouth, South Hams (Correspondence). SDV364859.

Historic England Application for Scheduled Monument Consent to undertake works concerning the installation of two small "No Climbing" signs, the locations for which have been selected to minimise their impact upon the historic fabric of the fort. The signs are part of a wider strategy to prevent anti-social behaviour at Bayards Cove including vandalism and intoxicated youths climbing on the high walls of the ruin, putting both themselves and the monument at risk. The wider strategy includes the installation of cctv at an off-monument location and liaison with Dartmouth Town Council to bring the fort within their monitoring scheme for the town centre.

Waterhouse, R., Unknown, Dartmouth Conservation Area: Archaeology, 6 (Un-published). SDV355585.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV155627List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1972. Dartmouth. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound.
SDV157498List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of National Heritage. 1994. Dartmouth. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 28.
SDV172286Article in Serial: Adams, M.. 1900. The Castle, Manor-house and Church of Clifton, near Dartmouth. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 32. A5 Hardback. 508.
SDV172956Article in Serial: Russell, P.. 1947 - 1949. Dartmouth: Pre-reformation the Castle and St Petrox. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 23. Unknown. 200.
SDV173184Article in Serial: O'Neil, B. H. St J.. 1945. Unknown. Archaeologia. 91. Unknown. 154.
SDV173200Article in Serial: Mottershead, D. N.. 2000. Weathering of Coastal Defensive Structures in South-West England: A 500 Year Stone Durability Trial. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 25. Unknown. 1143-59.
SDV173204Article in Monograph: Mottershead, D. N.. 2004. Local Variability of Marine Influence on Coastal Rock Weathering Rates: A Long Term Study. Stone Deterioration in Polluted Urban Environments. 15. A5 Paperback. 229-52.
SDV174434Monograph: Saunders, A. D.. 1993. Dartmouth Castle. Dartmouth Castle. Unknown. 24-5.
SDV177411Article in Serial: O'Neil, B. H. St J.. 1935. Dartmouth Castle and other defences in Dartmouth Haven. Archaeologia. 85. Unknown. 129-58.
SDV22609Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. DAP/FX. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 2,2a.
SDV312427Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1987. DAP/IB. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 6.
SDV336214Un-published: Batty, M.. 2003. South Devon Coast Path Project: a study of the archaeology along the coast path in the South Hams from Staddon Heights to Sharkham Point. Mixed Archive Material. 86.
SDV338879Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1855-1895. First Edition 1:500 Town Map. First Edition 1:500 Town Map. Map (Digital).
SDV340997Schedule Document: Office of Works. 1934. Bayard's Cove Castle. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV341001Site Visit: Timms, S. C.. 1993. Bayard's Cove Castle. Not Applicable.
SDV341002Un-published: Gerrard, S.. 1995. 130560. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Unknown.
SDV341004Worksheet: Exeter Archaeology. 1998. Worksheet. Worksheet.
SDV341005Report - non-specific: Collings, A. G. + Henderson, C. G.. 1999. The History of Bayard's Cove Castle, Dartmouth. Exeter Archaeology Report. 99.64. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV341006Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1955. SX85SE12. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV341007Monograph: Cathcart King, D. J.. 1988. The Castle in England and Wales. The Castle in England and Wales. Unknown. 174.
SDV341008Schedule Document: Department of Environment. 1996. Bayard's Cove Castle: a blockhouse in Dartmouth. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV350786Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2013. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #108627 ]
SDV352452Article in Monograph: Devon County Council. 1975. Dartmouth - Walk about in the Conservation Area & Exploring Dartmouth and Kingswear. Devon Town Trails: European Architectural Heritage Year. Paperback Volume. 35, 37.
SDV355585Un-published: Waterhouse, R.. Unknown. Dartmouth Conservation Area: Archaeology. Digital. 6.
SDV364859Correspondence: Historic England. 2022. Bayard's Cove Castle, Dartmouth, South Hams. Application for Scheduled Monument Consent. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV56238Parent of: Former World War II Gun Emplacement, Bayard's Cove Castle (Monument)
MDV23634Related to: Bayards Cove, Dartmouth (Monument)
MDV108505Related to: Dartmouth (Monument)
MDV43353Related to: Quay at Bayard's Cove (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Aug 19 2022 3:48PM