Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Other/Unknown), and also as a Possible Masonry Castle

There are no visible remains

Alternative Names
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishAxminster

Alleged site of a castle and/or hillfort. Conclusion based on sections of flint wall found in buildings and trenches near the alleged site in C19, and reported observations of a ditch. (PastScape)

"Axminster Castle, now entirely destroyed", is included in a list of prehistoric earthworks (Kirwen 1871).

(SY 29689860): 'The Castle' within the town is an open space occupied by the market place. It is topographically suitable for a prehistoric defensive work and there are distinct traces of a ditch. A castle was later erected on the site and though no vestige of this building remains associated relics may be the thick walls of the Bell Hotel cellars and the ancient arched well. In 1824 trench digging in the garden of Castle Hill House revealed flint walls 10 ft. thick which could be part of the castle. (Pulman 1875).

Sir William Pole (circa 1600) says he has seen records which prove there was a castle at Axminster probably a seat of the lords Brewer (Lysons 1822).

The Yonges had a residence at Axminster (besides The Great House, Colyton) called 'The Castle' and lived there in the time of Henry VII. This afterwards became a public house and a warehouse (Polwhele).

The area alleged by Pullman to be the site of Axminster Castle is now completely built-up, but the names Castle Hill and Castle Street are still applied to this locality. Traces of a ditch, or other defensive structures, were not located during field investigations, and local enquiry proved negative. The building formerly known as the Bell Hotel is of probable 18th century date. Road construction works recently undertaken in the immediate area (SY 29719868) of what was once Castle Hill House gardens, did not reveal any features of archaeological interest. (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Would be a typical location for a medieval castle in important town, on major crossroad and by river crossing. William Brewer was granted a licence to crenellate in 1200 'In whichever Devon property he wishes' Higham suggests this was at Axminster. This could have the location of an Iron Age hill fort, reused as a Norman Castle (it also has a strong tradition of being the site of an Anglo-Saxon royal palace) but the lack of remains might suggest only slight masonry buildings and early abandonment.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSY296986
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  • Higham, Robert A., 1999, 'Castles, Fortified Houses and Fortified Towns in the Middle Ages' in Kain, R. and Ravenhill, W., Historical Atlas of South-West England (University of Exeter Press) p. 136-43
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 164
  • Pulman, P.R., 1875, Book of the Axe p. 296 online copy
  • Polwhele, R., 1797, Historical Views of Devonshire Vol. 3 p. 180, 271, 289
  • Lysons, D. and S., 1822, Magna Britannia Vol. 6 Devon p. 23 online transcription


  • Higham, R.A., 1988, 'Devon Castles: an annotated list' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 46 p. 142-9
  • Higham, R.A., 1986, 'Was there a castle at Axminster?' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 44
  • Kirwan, R., 1871, 'Notes on the Pre-Historic Archaeology of East Devon. Part IV' Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 4 p. 648

Primary Sources

  • Hardy, T.D. (ed), 1837, Rotuli Chartarum, 1199-1216 (Record Commission) p. 70 online copy