Durpley Castle, Shebbear

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameDurpley Castle, Shebbear
Alternative Names
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishShebbear

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

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. (Scheduling Report)

An undocumented castle in an area of royal ownership, which together with its nearness to Woodford Castle suggests a foundation date during the civil wars of 1130's and 1140's. The castle was probably the centre of a discrete but small estate. (Devon and Dartmoor HER ref. Higham 1979)

Gatehouse Comments

A rare isolated castle, but in a parish of dispersed settlement or, to quote Creighton, "castles that stand in positions remote from other human settlements without being prohibitively inaccessible include the mottes at Durpley ..., all of which are located in parishes containing multiple foci of predominantly non-nucleated settlement"

- 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 ReferenceSS429125
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


  • Creighton, O.H., 2002, Castles and Landscape (Equinox Publishing) p. 194
  • 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
  • Salter, Mike, 1999, The Castles of Devon and Cornwall (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 59
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 64 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 119
  • Allcroft, A. Hadrian, 1908, Earthwork of England (London) p. 405-6 online copy
  • Wall, C., 1906, in Page, Wm (ed), 'Ancient Earthworks' VCH Devon Vol. 1 p. 620-21


  • Higham, R.A., 1988, 'Devon Castles: an annotated list' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 46 p. 142-9
  • Higham, R.A., 1982, 'Early Castles in Devon' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 9-10 p. 101-116
  • Oliver, B., 1948, 'Some Notes on Shebbear and Durpley Castle' Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 60 p. 215-23
  • Parry, J.A., 1867, 'on the remains of ancient fortification in the neighbourhood of Bideford' Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 2 p. 104-5 online copy