Durpley Castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016224

Date first listed: 10-Aug-1923

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Aug-1997


Ordnance survey map of Durpley Castle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Jan-2019 at 18:14:56.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: Torridge (District Authority)

Parish: Shebbear

National Grid Reference: SS 42978 12529


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Motte and bailey castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey, adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte-and-bailey castles acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte and bailey castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating their immediate locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape. Over 600 motte castles or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. As one of a restricted range of recognised early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. Although many were occupied for only a short period of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Durpley Castle survives well and contains archaeological information relating to Norman military activity in this part of Devon.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument 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- west, with the motte to the east and the bailey to the west. The motte is circular in shape with a diameter of 33m, and is 6.4m 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 6.5m in diameter and is up to 3m deep. Surrounding the motte is a ditch which measures 3.6m wide and varies in depth from 0.4m on the eastern side to 1.2m 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 37.2m long from north to south and 25.6m 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 4.4m wide by 1.2m deep. Beyond the ditch is an outer rampart which measures up to 6m wide and 0.6m high.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 28650

Legacy System: RSM


Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS41SW2,

End of official listing