Lamerton motte and bailey

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameLamerton motte and bailey
Alternative NamesLamerhooe
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishSydenham Damerel

Flat topped mound of clay and shillet situated at most constricted point of a ridge enclosed by loop in River Tamar. A strategic location overlooking the road leading to the lowest fordable point on the Tamar. Old field names, Great Castle, Little Castle and Castle Park, suggest that this was the site of a motte and bailey, probably of short duration. (Devon and Dartmoor HER)

At SX 40107394, the most constricted part of a ridge-backed spur about a mile long, which extends to the S.W. and is enclosed by a loop in the River Tamar. Steep sided, the spur makes a gentle descent from about 90m. O.D. to the river and a spinal road leads to Latchley Ford, the lowest fordable point on the Tamar that is still in use. A flat topped mound of clay with shillet has been constructed on the N.W. extremity of the ridge so that part is on level ground and part overspreads the slope to the Rivar Tamar. Overall it measures 26.5m. by 30m., and the top is 15m. by 18m. across; in both cases the elongation is N.W. to S.E. i.e. extended along the slope. On the S.E. it is 1.7m. high and on the N.W. 3.9 m. high. The sides have been mutilated and the perimeter of the top trampled by cattle, distorting the original circular plan. Traces of a ditch, 5m. wide and 0.2m. deep, can be detected only round part of the N. side, and for a few metres on the S. In 1950 the local farmer considered the mound to be material from Lamerhooe Drive, a carriageway alongside the Tamar, built by a Duke of Bedford. The present farmer was told that it was mining waste. Neither theory is tenable. Lamerhooe Drive was made after 1882: it does not appear on the 1st Edn. O.S. 6" of that date but the mound is depicted as a circular patch of rough pasture. In the second instance there is no mining within a half mile, no evidence of rocks that would indicate mining waste, and the neatness of construction does not accord with casual dumping

The field in which the mound stands is now called Castle Park, but reference to the Lamerton Tithe Map of 1840 shows the field oddly sub-divided. A semi-circular field, about 90m. across, encloses the mound and an area 70m. by 30 m. which is banded off and described as 'waste'. The field is called Great Castle. Immediately to the N.E. is a small plot called Little Castle. Castle Park is to the S.W. of Great Castle and separated from it by two curvilinear and parallel hedges about 3m. apart through which an ungated track or path runs to give access to a large and steep field over-looking the Tamar. The E. boundary of Great Castle exists today as a hedgebank of earth and shillet 1.7m. high and up to 2.0m. thick, forming the outer edge of a parallel curved platform, between 2m. and 3m. wide and 0.5m. high. At the northern end a faint rise in the pasture field suggests that the platform once curved sharply westwards towards the mound. The hedgebank at this point angles to the N.N.E. and is narrower than previously, where the impression is that it was cut back from a larger pre-existing structure and given some stone-facing or revetting. There are no vestiges of a ditch in the arable field on the outer face of the bank. Corresponding very approximately to the former western boundary of Great Castle, a ditch, about 13m. wide and 0.2m. deep, can be traced for 45m., the inner face appearing to curve towards the mound at the northern end. The field names evidently perpetuate the tradition of some form of fortification and it seems probable that the mound represents a motte with the possibility of a small bailey. The entrance would presumably have been on the S. side adjacent to the ridgeway road. Strategically it is well placed, occupying the entire width of the ridgetop at this point except for the route it controlled. The lack of any documentary supporting evidence save the field names may indicate a minor fortification of brief duration as might occur during the period of the Anarchy. Mound; fir planted, but condition fair; possible bailey earthworks so ploughed down or destroyed as to be only just perceptible. No finds were made. Surveyed at 1/1250 & 1/2500. 'Lamerhooe' is a 19th century variation of 'Lamerow' which name occurs on the 1st Edn. 1", 1809. (PastScape–ref. Field Investigators Comments F2 MJF 12-NOV-83)

Gatehouse Comments

Marked on the OS map as a motte and bailey but missing from all the usually authorities. The location, at the neck of a large meander in the Tamar, is not unlikely for a castle. Is the farm called Lamerhooe the site of a DMV? There was a C17 fulling and corn mill nearby on the Tamar and presumably a mill in the C11 so a community to service a castle here is not impossible although the nearest church is 2km to the north. What is the reason for this site being missed. Recent identification? Overlooked, perhaps because on county boundary and falling between county surveys? Or was it known and dismissed by King and Higham. The anarchy date can probably be dismissed and, if a castle probably most likely post-Conquest C11.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSX400739
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
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  • Dyer, M.J. and Manning, P T.,1998, Objective 5B: Lower Tamar Valley Recreation and Land Management Iinitiative: Cultural Heritage Appraisal
  • Dean Jeremiah Milles, c. 1750, Questionnaire (Bodleian Library)