Tracey Castle, Bow

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Questionable Fortified Manor House

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameTracey Castle, Bow
Alternative NamesHilldown; Blue Violet Farm
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishBow

Low lying mound and adjacent dam may be a Medieval moated site. The tradition that a castle of the Tracy family stood here has been refuted. (PastScape)

Tracy Castle a prehistoric earthwork was possible sited around NGR SS72--00-- (Carbonell 1931)

Tracey Castle alleged site. "At Hilldown the Traceys are said to have had a castle, (more probably a fortified manor house) of which some walls remained within living memory" (Hoskins 1954).

The site is at the end of a 2.5m high promontory of clay, bounded on the north and east sides by very small streams. The area has been cut across by several trenches and excavations undertaken a few years ago (according to the owner of Blue Violet Farm) by a school from Exeter. It appears that nothing whatsoever was found, and current examination showed no trace of masonry. It seems most unlikely that any structure such as a fortified manor house ever occupied this site (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division 1962).

Large enigmatic structure, clearly with artifical elements (Griffith and Higham 1987 site visit).

Conceivably an island in an artificial lake? it is proposed that Exeter University will clean up one of the old trenches and survey the site in 1988 (Higham 1987 Personal Comment).

Probably a medieval moated site. Two trenches cut in the top of the earthwork were emptied of backfill in 1988. Neither revealed stratification in section, but both produced roof slate, some with peg holes, of medieval, or post-medieval form. 50m N lie the remains of an east to west running dam which, when operative, would have flooded the area in front of and to the sides of the earthwork. A field boundary containing trees of considerable age runs along and post-dates the dam bank. Plan & photo (Higham and Rouillard 1989).

Gatehouse Comments

As with much of Devon settlement is dispersed and non-nucleated but even so this site seems isolated. The church is well over a mile to the north.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSX733986
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Salter, Mike, 1999, The Castles of Devon and Cornwall (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 87 (slight)
  • Hoskins, W.G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon (London: Collins) p. 341


  • Higham, R. and Rouillard, M., 1989, 'The site of 'Tracey Castle' Bow' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 47
  • Higham, R.A., 1988, 'Devon Castles: an annotated list' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 46 p. 142-9
  • Carbonell, B. M. H., 1931, 'The Nymet area' Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 63 p. 299