Ruan Lanihorne Castle

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are no visible remains

NameRuan Lanihorne Castle
Alternative NamesLarihorn; Lanyhorn; Shepestall
Historic CountryCornwall
Modern AuthorityCornwall
1974 AuthorityCornwall
Civil ParishRuanlanihorne

n 1334 John Le Erchedekne obtained a licence to fortify his house at Lanyhorn. The completed castle appears to have comprised a round keep, known locally as the 'round tower', with attached higher and base courts, the higher court extending by tradition north of the road leading from the church to the mill. Six of the seven recorded towers were standing at the beginning of C18 but by 1780 only the 40ft. high remains of part of the round tower survived. Two stone chimneys attached to the round tower, one being incorporated in an adjoining house, were described by Whitaker and seen by Whitley who considered them later than the castle. Beneath this house was a cellar thought to be the dungeon. The tower had been pulled down for building stone by 1889. A fragment of the castle wall consisting of flat bedded slate stones filled in with rubble set in clay, about 5ft wide and 8ft high, still stood. The furnace beyond this wall had four flues and formed part of the castle brewhouse. The tradition of the site survives in the 'Malt House' built about 1870. The 'Water Gate' appears to be where two parallel walls were discovered and in the yard behind a human skeleton was dug up in about 1750. No traces of the west wall were visible in 1889 but Whitaker records an oak beam, said to be part of the castle floor, being found in the gutter about 1775. Whitley traced the north wall for almost its whole length, being about 5ft. wide and similar in construction to the south wall. Between the north wall and the road, in a long narrow garden, were found about 1789 the foundations of walls forming a suite of rooms on one side of the higher court. This court had walls bonded with lime mortar instead of clay, indicating a later date. Building stones from the castle can be seen in the walls of the village. There are no identifiable remains of a castle at Ruan Lanihorne


There are now no remains of Lanihorne castle: Leland describes it "as a castelle of an eight towers, then decaying for lak of coverture." Tonkin describes a large tower, which was pulled down in 1718; and says, that within 30 years of the time of his writing, six out of eight towers of the castle had been standing: some cottages have been built on the site. (Lysons, 1814)

Gatehouse Comments

Seems to have been a large house, although the use, in parts, of clay bonding instead of mortar suggests perhaps not as strong as the description of eight towers might imply.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSW894419
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 3 Southern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 695
  • 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. 22
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 24 (slight)
  • Spreadbury, I. D., 1984, Castles in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (Redruth)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 74
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 15 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 410 online copy
  • Lysons, D. and S., 1814, Magna Britannia Vol. 3 Cornwall online transcription


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 73
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 99 online copy


  • Preston-Jones, Ann and Rose, Peter, 1986, 'Medieval Cornwall' Cornish Archaeology Hendhyscans Kernow Vol. 25 p. 135-185 online copy
  • Whitaker, J., Douch, H.L. (ed), 1974, 'History of Rural Lanihorne MS c 1780' Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall Vol. 7 p. 108-116
  • Pounds, N., 1937, 'The Medieval Castle in Cornwall' Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society Vol. 104 p. 30
  • Whiteley, H.M., 1886-9,'Lanyhorn Castles and its lords' Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall Vol. 9 p. 425-48 plan online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1895, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1334-38) Vol. 3 p. 79 online copy


  • J F Tonkin c 1730