Hembury Castle, West Buckfastleigh

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameHembury Castle, West Buckfastleigh
Alternative NamesDane's Castle; The Danish Camp
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishWest Buckfastleigh

Motte and Bailey set within an Iron Age hillfort. The castle is situated on the western summit of the hillfort interior. The motte consists of a central grass covered mound with an encircling ditch and bank, bailey and outer rampart. The motte is almost perfectly circular at its base, about 32m in diameter rising to an oval top offset to the south west quadrant and measuring 19m north east to south west by 11m overall. The remains of the bailey lie 18m beyond the mound. (PastScape)

Motte and bailey built into the Iron Age enclosure/hillfort. The mount is locally called Danes Camp. It has a hollow centre 3.6m deep and is ditched. The mound is 27m diameter and 6m high. This is surrounded by a level platform with a scarped edge descending to the level of the interior of the camp. It has been noted that the bailey has been 'mutilated by excavation'. The hillfort was probably utilised as an outer bailey. A mid 13th century document describes it as 'the old castle which was called Hembury'. It was possibly a campaign castle of the Norman Conquest, but is likely to have gone out of use soon after. (National Trust HBSMR)

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 ReferenceSX725684
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Guy Wareham and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.

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.

Calculate Print


  • 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. 87 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 115
  • Winbolt, S.E., 1929, Devon (Bell's Pocket Guide) p. 153-4
  • Allcroft, A. Hadrian, 1908, Earthwork of England (London) p. 415-6 online copy
  • 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
  • Higham, R.A., 1982, 'Early Castles in Devon' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 9-10 p. 101-116
  • Amery, P.F.S., 1873-4,' Hill Fortresses near Ashburton' Transaction of the Devon Association Vol. 6 p. 265
  • 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. 60-1 (plan) online copy


  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 59 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 95 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 70 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 83 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 76 online copy
  • The National Trust, June 1984, National Trust Report: Archaeological Survey of Hembury Devon (National Trust)