Heywood Castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020959

Date first listed: 26-Nov-1928

Date of most recent amendment: 23-Apr-2003


Ordnance survey map of Heywood Castle
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: Mid Devon (District Authority)

Parish: Wembworthy

National Grid Reference: SS 67927 12482


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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Heywood Castle survives well, contains important archaeological information relating to Norman military activity in this part of Devon and is a popular destination for educational groups and visitors to the area. This is one of two castles from the same period to survive in the area.


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


This monument includes a motte and bailey castle known as Heywood Castle which is situated in a commanding location overlooking the valley of the River Taw. The monument survives as a circular motte, rock-cut ditch and crescent shaped bailey with an outer bank. The motte has a diameter of 48.7m and is 7.9m high. On top of the motte is a ring bank which attains a height of up to 4m in places and is up to 2m wide. The central enclosed area has a small linear bank running from north to south within it, which measures 3.5m wide and up to 1.7m high and runs across the top of the mound. The rock-cut ditch which surrounds the foot of the motte is 4m wide and 2m deep. The crescent shaped bailey lies to the north east of the motte, is 60m long by 40m wide and bounded on all sides by a bank which measures up to 1.5m wide and 2m high on average except on the eastern side where it attains a height of some 4m. On the eastern side there is an entrance which measures 2.8m wide. From the entrance and across the ditch there is a causeway which extends to the outer bank. On the northern side of the bailey a more modern entrance has formed which measures 3.5m to 4m wide. From the bailey to the motte on the north eastern side there is the possibility of a bridgeway. An outer bank surrounds the motte and bailey; this measures up to 4m wide and 1.6m high. The monument lies relatively near another contemporary castle which lies a short distance to the south and is the subject of a separate scheduling. The castle is thought to date to the 1130s and 1140s and the fact that two are so close together may reflect civil war antagonism or replacement of one by the other. The timber steps and walkways are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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: 28641

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Vachell, E T, 'Devonshire Association Transactions' in Eggesford and Heywood Castles, , Vol. 95, (1963), 197-207
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS61SE9, (1992)
MPP fieldwork by H. Gerrard, (1996)

End of official listing