Bushy Knap, Buckerell

Has been described as a Rejected Timber Castle (Motte)

There are uncertain remains

NameBushy Knap, Buckerell
Alternative NamesToot Hill
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishBuckerell

Buckerell Knap and Bushey Knap were thought by Hutchinson and his fellow antiquarian, N.S. Heineken, to have been barrows and the whole ridge fortified by artificial scarping. In June 1859 Hutchinson drew his first plan and his description was followed by J.C. Wall in 1906, but it differs from the details recorded by Heineken at the same time. In 1871 he made an amended plan for his History of Sidmouth, but in 1882 published a plan in agreement with Heineken's original description. In this description Buckerell Knap is said to have at its north end a large oval mound 200 feet in diameter; a rhomboidal mound 130 feet in diameter, trenched all round, to the south of it; and a ditch south of that across the whole width of the narrowest part of the ridge. The mound on Bushy Knap was 230 feet in diameter and 13 feet high. All the mounds have been excavated at their centres. In the middle of the field to the north of Buckerell Knap they found in 1874 some stones which might have been another barrow and, on the west side of the ridge, some prominent banks above a scythe-stone quarry. Described by Kirwan as being five large bell-barrows.

The only artificial works on Buckerell Knap are certain very slight banks and ditches of uncertain purpose, though some are probably field banks. There is nothing here to suggest a camp and any scarping has been due to natural causes (Ralegh-Radford).

There is no evidence of antiquity on Buckerell Knap or Bushey Knap and any scarping may be associated with quarrying at ST 13200104 and surface quarrying along the ridge. The mound at Buckerell Knap, apparently natural, has two ditches south of it 30.0m in length which are probably old boundary ditches. (F1 NVQ 27-NOV-53). (PastScape)

A mound of small dimensions occupies the point known as 'bushy knap'. Listed as a motte. Supposed by Hutchinson to be outpost of Hembury fort (Wall).

Visit 19/11/1953 a natural mound scarped on north and east

Probably result of earth digging and building of hedges. Very rough pasture.

Most unlikely to be an antiquity earthwork (OS Archaeology Division).

Not convincing as a motte. There are many natural mounds in the area. Slight earthworks nearby (Higham 1979).

Motte and bailey positioned for space for single bailey and view-shed to the south coast, perhaps overlooking deer park. Not as defensive as Buckerell Knap (Hawken 2004-7). (Devon and Dartmoor HER)

Gatehouse Comments

These earthworks on a wooded hilltop have be examined numerous times by eye, but not otherwise, by numerous people with numerous interpretations. Very experienced field archaeologist Norman Quinnell rejected these as an antiquity. David King, who made a point of visiting and survey all castle sites, rejected this as a castle site. Leading academic castelologist Bob Higham also rejected this as a castle. Hawken is unknown to Gatehouse and the title ('two previously unreport motte and baileys') of the unpublished report given in the Devon HER is not suggestive of the most rigorous of papers (since the site has previously been identified). Pending scientific investigation and dating evidence the site may remain uncertain but the isolated location is not typical of a medieval castle although not untypical for a hunting lodge.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceST131010
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Pevsner, Nikolaus and Cherry, Bridget, 1989, Buildings of England: Devon (Harmondsworth) p. 222
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 122 (Reject)
  • Wall, C., 1906, in Page, Wm (ed), 'Ancient Earthworks' VCH Devon Vol. 1 p. 618


  • Higham, R.A., 1988, 'Devon Castles: an annotated list' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 46 p. 142-9
  • Ralegh-Radford, C.A., 1927, Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 59 p. 68
  • Hutchinson, P.O., 1882, Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 14 p. 520-2 online copy
  • Kirwan, R., 1872, 'Notes on the pre-historic archaeology of East Devon' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 29 p. 36 online copy
  • Kirwan, R., 1869, 'Notes on the pre-historic archaeology of East Devon' Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 3 p. 496 online copy
  • Hutchinson, P.O., 1862, 'on the hill fortresses, tumuli, and some other other antiquities of Eastern Devon' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 18 p. 53-66 esp. 62 (dubious paln) online copy


  • Hawken, S.. 2004 - 2007. Two previously unidentified Motte and baileys within east Devon. Community Landscapes Project Report.
  • Higham, R.A., 1979, The Castles of Medieval Devon (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) Downloadable from EThOS