Gommerock

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Manor House

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameGommerock
Alternative NamesGomerock; Godmerock; Dertemuth
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishKingswear

On the opposite side of the river to Dartmouth Castle are the ruins of a late Medieval fortified house now called Gomerock, said to be a corruption of 'God, my rock'. Very little is known of it, but is is referred to as "the old castelle of Kingswear in deeds of 1580 and 1590, presumably to distinguish it from the present Kingswear Castle. It must be the 'other tower' mentioned in grants of 1481 and 1486, and portions of it which are visible suggest a date in the 15th century earlier than 1481. It may originate from Hawley's fortifications of the harbour in the 14th century, or it may have been built to guard the Kingswear end of the chain which was stretched across the harbour mouth in the 15th century. Gomerock may have been the 'lodging' by the entrance to Dartmouth which John Corp was licensed to crenellate in 1402, 'for defence against the King's enemies'. (For alternative suggestion of this, see Paradise Point and Kingswear Castle For general description of Dartmouth defences, see SX 85 SE 51 (NMR No 446057)) (O' Neill; Saunders) The substantial but decaying remains of a fortified house called Gomerock. They comprise a five-sided structure, very overgrown, with walls between 1.2 and 1.8m thick and standing to 5m in height. Constructed of rough stone the walls may have been limewashed. The entrance, a gap of 1.2m, is on the SSW side. The door jambs are of dressed sandstone. The interior is completely overgrown. Immediately to the SE is a rectangular building measuring 3.4m by 7m. At its N end is a sunken area. This gives access into a sub-circular recess 3m in diameter, the entrance of which opens into the gable wall at sub-floor level (Field Investigators Comments-RCHME Field Investigation, 04-OCT-1991, WR Wilson-North)

(PastScape)

Gomerock 'Building F'. The Blockhouse survives as a rock-cut terrace lying just above the shore. The main axis is northwest to southeast, and by far the most substantial survival is the rock-cut northeast wall. The vertical wall face, which measures 11.2 metres long and stands up to 6 metres above the rock-cut floor, is the only feature at Gomerock which is clearly visible from the west side of the estuary. Cut into it are 3 rows of joist sockets. The upper row contains 10 large sockets, circa 0.25 metres square, 0.15 metres deep and 4.5 metres above ground level. Four sockets have been partially lost due to deterioration of the rock. The middle row comprises 12 large sockets, 0.3 metres square, 0.15 metres deep and 2.2 metres above ground level. The lower row consists of 15 smaller sockets, 0.15 metres square, 0.15 metres deep and only 1.1 metres above ground level. At the top of the wall face a narrow terrace cut circa 1.75 metres into the hillslope. At the base of the wall face, and slightly northwest of centre, lies a pit, 0.92 metres square and 0.42 metres deep. This is cut into the bedrock floor of the building. Internally the building measures circa 10 metres by 5 metres. Two of the other 3 sides of the building, to southwest and southeast, are defined partly by rock-cut faces. The height of the southeast face at its junction with the tall northeast face is 3.5 metres, but it falls rapidly away to only 0.6 metres at the southern corner of the building. The low rock-cut face to the southwest is surmounted by up to 0.5 metres of surviving masonry and contains a central opening, 1.35 metres by 0.7 metres, marking the entrance. The southwest inner door jamb has a mortared rebate for a timber door frame. Further masonry is apparent at the northwest end of this wall beyond the rock-cut face. No evidence survives of a northwest wall except for a small rock projection from the northeast face. The rock-cut floor continues to the edge of the cliff, a drop of c.irca 4.4 metres to the rocky inlet below. There has clearly been erosion on this side of the building since it was erected. Precise date of construction uncertain, although a 1490/91 reference to a 'bulwark begun on the Kingswear side for the defence of the port' is thought more likely to refer to Gomerock than to Kingswear Castle. The Earl of Surrey's report of 1522 seems to confirm that the blockhouse had been built by then. It was clearly constructed for harbour defence, whereas the tower-house had been built as a private residence and served as such down to at least the early 17th century. The blockhouse would appear to have been built to protect the Medieval boom. The main entrance is positioned to provide ready access to the boom chain terminal. The building was rectangular with at least 2, probably 3 floors. The purpose of the pit within the blockhouse is unknown; it could have been associated with a repositioned boom chain terminal. The mortared revetment wall (Structure G) could be earlier than or contemporary with the blockhouse. It may have served as a battery for guns positioned in the open. The fate of the blockhouse is also unclear. It is not specifically referred to in 1644. The 1650 reference to 'the 2 blockhouses' may refer to the Gomerock blockhouse, but this is not conclusive. Bucks' engraving of 1734 shows no evidence of the blockhouse, and the reference in 1717 to 'Goodman's ruins' is referring to Gomerock Castle itself. The blocking of the landing steps implies that at some stage access from the water was no longer desired, possibly during the Royalist occupation of the Civil War. (Devon and Dartmoor HER ref. Watts 1997)

Gatehouse Comments

On the grounds of the date of existing remains and the relationship with Dartmouth Castle Gatehouse favours this as the dwelling of John Corp licenced in 1402.

- 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 ReferenceSX888505
Latitude50.3429985046387
Longitude-3.56286001205444
Eastings288890
Northings50510
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photo by Andy Knight All Rights Reserved
Photo by Andy Knight All Rights Reserved
Photo by Andy Knight All Rights Reserved
Photo by Andy Knight All Rights Reserved
Photo by Andy Knight All Rights Reserved
Photo by Andy Knight All Rights Reserved

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

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Books

  • (For full bibliography of Dartmouth defences see Dartmouth Artillery Castle)
  • 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. 65
  • Mildren, James, 1987, Castles of Devon (Bossiney Books) p. 90-1
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 117
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 421 (wrongly identified as Dartmouth Castle) online copy
  • Lysons, D. and S., 1822, Magna Britannia Vol. 6 Devon p. cccxlv-cccxlviii online transcription

Journals

  • Higham, R.A., 1988, 'Devon Castles: an annotated list' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 46 p. 142-9
  • Russell and Yorke, 1953, Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 85 p. 70-2
  • O'Neil, B.H.St.J., 1936, 'Dartmouth Castle and other defences of Dartmouth Haven' Archaeologia Vol. 85 p. 129-59 esp p. 140 plate xxxvii

Guide Books

  • Saunders, A.D., 1965, Dartmouth Castle, Devon (HMSO)

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1905, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry IV (1401-05) Vol. 2 p. 219 online copy

Other

  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk South West Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 98 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 102 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 100 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 116 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 105 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 101 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 108 online copy
  • Watts, M.A., 1997, Archaeological and Historical Survey at Gommerock, Kingswear (Exeter Archaeology Report. 97.61)
  • Wilson-North, R., 1996, Gommerock, Kingswear: An Archaeological Survey by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England