Hartland Castle

Has been described as a Questionable Masonry Castle, and also as a Questionable Fortified Manor House

There are no visible remains

NameHartland Castle
Alternative NamesHertiland'
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishHartland

In 1201 Alan of Hartland was granted licence to crenellate his house (domus) of Hertiland' nominally because of the danger from the notorious pirate William de Marisco based on Lundy Island. There are castle field names in Hartland parish (although these may relate to a lost Iron Age fort) and this, combined with misunderstanding about licences to crenellate, has lead to the suggestion there was a castle in Hartland. This Alan of Hartland was probably a member of the Dinham family who, at this time, had a complex genealogy with two competing branches. The court scribe may have used the de Hartland suffix to clarify the complexities of several Alan Dinhams although, from 800 years later, it has obscured the situation. 19th century genealogies of the Dinham family are not reliable. It has been suggested that Blegberry a C16/C17 house may be at or close to the licenced domus but this suggestion is weak. Extensive modern research by Stephen Hobbs details the manorial history and he suggests a location 'on the perimeter of the present settlement of Hartland'. Hartland was a high status landscape with deer parks, a monastic foundation and a (failed) borough and it must have had a high status manor house probably dressed up with martial symbols, such as the battlements. However, the lack of any remains, particularly the lack of a moated site, suggests the house was not one of any great strength. The Dinhams moved their caput to Kingskerwell in south Devon in the C13 so the manorial site was not developed and it may have been used as the base for the borough founded in 1290. (Stephen Hobbs)

Gatehouse Comments

Given map reference for centre of Hartland town but it should be noted that Hartland was a dispersed settlement and the parish church was some 2km west at Stoke - see Stephen Hobbs for full discussion of the medieval manorial structure. Gatehouse thanks Stephen Hobbs for the information about his research.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSS258244
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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
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 121 (possible)
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 355
  • Chope, R.P., 1940, The Book of Hartland (Exeter: Devonshire Press)


  • Hobbs, S., 2006, 'The Saxon Boundaries of Hartland Hundred' North Devon Archaeological Society Newsletter Vol. 12
  • 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
  • Kenyon, J.R., 1981 'Early Artillery Fortifications in England and Wales: a Preliminary Survey and Re-appraisal' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 138 p. 233
  • Chope, R.P., 1902, 'The Early History of the Manor of Hartland' Report of the Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 34 p. 418-54 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Hardy, T.D. (ed), 1837, Rotuli Chartarum, 1199-1216 (Record Commission) p. 103 online copy


  • Kleineke, H., 1988, The Dinham Family in the Later Middle Ages (doctoral thesis, University of London)
  • Higham, R.A., 1979, The Castles of Medieval Devon (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) p. 148-51 Downloadable from EThOS