Eggesford Castle, Wembworthy

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameEggesford Castle, Wembworthy
Alternative NamesHeywood Wood
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishWembworthy

Eggesford Castle survives comparatively well and contains archaeological information relating to Norman military activity in this part of Devon. The proximity of this castle to another one nearby is unusual.

The monument includes Eggesford Castle, a ringwork castle situated above a ford to the west of the River Taw at Eggesford. It lies to the south west of a second motte and bailey castle called Heywood Castle which is the subject of a separate scheduling. The monument survives as an oval mound which measures 31m long by 20m wide and is 3.5m high with a surrounding bank up to 1.5m high. Part of the ringwork has been levelled by 19th century ornamental gardening. The bailey, which lies to the NNE, measures 71m long by 24.5m wide internally and is surrounded by a bank which is up to 3.8m wide and 2.3m high. Surrounding the whole is a ditch which measures 2m wide and from 1.6m to 3.5m deep on the north eastern side; at this point steps have also been cut to facilitate access to the river. The history of the castle is not clear, although a date of 1130s to the 1140s seems most likely. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Eggesford Castle and Heywood Castle are only 500m apart. Both are rather isolated from settlement, although the settlement form is dispersed in this area. The mid C12 date given to both castles is speculative. There must be some relationship between these two neighbouring castle but the nature of that relationship is obscure. The suggestion by Vatchell that Eggesford was the original post-Conquest castle succeeded by the larger Heywood has merit but is unproven. The Eggesford location may be close to, a now lost, river crossing suggesting a manorial centre. The Heywood location, on a hill spur end is more defensive and more dramatic and impressive (although this impact is now lost in the wooded site). If the Eggesford location became somewhat isolated after a ford became impassible then this might suggest a reason for a move to a more impressive location. Dating evidence would be useful but would probably require extensive and destructive excavation and both these earthworks are actually well preserved and should be protected from such damage.

- 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 ReferenceSS678119
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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
  • Salter, Mike, 1999, The Castles of Devon and Cornwall (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 86
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 120
  • Allcroft, A. Hadrian, 1908, Earthwork of England (London) p. 405-7 online copy
  • Wall, C., 1906, in Page, Wm (ed), 'Ancient Earthworks' VCH Devon Vol. 1 p. 621-22


  • 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' Château Gaillard Vol. 9-10 p. 101-116
  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • Vatchell, E.T., 1963, 'Eggesford and Heywood Castles' Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 95 p. 197-207
  • Renn, D.F., 1959, 'Mottes: a classification' Antiquity Vol. 33 p. 106-12


  • Historic England, 2016, Heritage at Risk South West Register 2016 (London: Historic England) p. 84 online copy
  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk South West Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 87 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 92 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 93 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 111 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 99 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 95 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 103 online copy