Dartmouth Gommerock Harbour Chain

Has been described as a Certain Chain Tower

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameDartmouth Gommerock Harbour Chain
Alternative Names
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishDartmouth, Kingswear

"The chain across the river was fixed to the cliff near Gommerock where there is a hole in the rock for fixing the chain" (Saunders, 1991, p. 23). The site consists of a vertical rock face about 6m high, cut back to create a rectangular level area measuring 5m by 9m at its base. This rock face has three horizontal lines of square sockets, presumably to take joists for a timber structure. At the foot is a rectanglar socket measuring 0.95m square and 0.45m deep. It is the hole refered to by Saunders. The site was apparently where the harbour chain was anchored and it was presumably either defended or concealed (Wilson-North 1991). The remains described are either a structure associated with Gommerock (SX 85 SE 10) or with the harbour chain. The fixing point for the chain is not as described by ..., but was identified recently at SX 88856 50494, and consists of a 0.2 m wide gulley cut into the rocks at 2 m above OD. The gulley was presumably intended to accomodate a loop of the harbour chain, thus acting as a natural bollard (Wilson-North 1996). (PastScape)

A large opening in the seaward side of this room is the hole through which the chain, which stretched across the harbour mouth, passed over a roller. The marks of successive slots for the axle of the roller can be seen in the jambs. The chain seems to have been hauled in by means of ropes, with the aid of a capstan or two wheels on an axle. The housing may have been in the holes in the back wall of the room. (Scheduling Report for Dartmouth Castle)

Gatehouse Comments

In 1462 the mayor and burgess was granted £30 pa for 20 years from the customs of Dartmouth and Exeter for expenses in defence of the borough included chains.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSX888504
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

No photos available. If you can provide pictures please contact Castlefacts

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • (For full bibliography of Dartmouth defences see Dartmouth Artillery Castle)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 117 (mention)
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 96


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 115
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 221 online copy

Guide Books

  • Davison, B.K., 2000, Dartmouth Castle Guidebook (London: English Heritage)
  • Saunders, A.D., 1991, Dartmouth Castle, Devon (London: English Heritage)
  • Saunders, A.D., 1986, Dartmouth Castle, Devon (London: English Heritage)
  • Saunders, A.D., 1983 2edn, Dartmouth Castle, Devon (HMSO)
  • Saunders, A.D., 1965, Dartmouth Castle, Devon (HMSO)

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1897, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward IV (1461-67) p. 75 view online copy (Grant of money for chains in 1462)
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1890, A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds Vol. 1 A. 654 online transcription (Grant of money for chain in 1486)
  • - < >Also see the Gatehouse murage pages for full details of murage [grants > http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/murage/murindex.html], [petitions > http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/murage/mupindex.html ] and [other such > http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/murage/muaindex.html]. < >


  • Wilson-North, 10-R-1996, WR/RCHME Field Investigation
  • Wilson-North, 01-NOV-1991, WR/RCHME Field Investigation