Highweek Castle Dyke

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameHighweek Castle Dyke
Alternative NamesHigh Week
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishNewton Abbot

Motte and Bailey. The motte is the summit of a natural knoll which probably required little scarping to attain its present diameter of 33m and height of 4.2m. The former surrounding ditch is now represented mainly by a cropmark of lush grass 2m to 3m wide. The small bailey, 40m by 15m slopes to the south west, possibly the result of slighting, though it appears to be the natural hillside. (PastScape)

A concave motte with a kidney-shaped bailey, the "Barbican Bailey" to its south-west, and traces of a further bailey to its north and east, which has been much built upon by modern houses. A banked way leads from the motte, skirting the barbican, to the "watering place", some 120 metres west of the barbican bailey. A broad shallow ditch south-east of the motte may be the result of modern quarrying. Interpreted as an Adulterine castle of Stephens reign (1135-1154). Some manorial history given. Occasional references to castle in Harris' article unreliable. A lopsided motte with a dished top and steepest on the east side. It is approximately 9.75 metres diameter by 6.7 metres high. The circumference of the base is 100 metres. It was originally surrounded by a ditch which is now very shallow and hardly visible to the north. There is a trace of an outer bank to the north. Author suggests a bridge across the motte ditch to the bailey was sited on the south-west side. The kidney-shaped bailey is approximately 51.8 metres by 30.5 metres with four bastion-like hummocks on the perimeter. The enclosed area slopes steeply down from the counterscarp bank of the motte ditch. There are suggestions of a further bailey 210 metres by 102 metres to the north and east of the motte which is now built over. Faint traces of its bank are visible in the grounds of the modern houses and includes Castle Dyke Farm house (Woolner, D. + Woolner, A., 1953).

1. Site visit 18th December 1951. Field called 'Castle Field' behind Castle Ditch Farm in Highweek

Small earthwork which appears to have been a motte and bailey.

2. Castle Dyke is the remnant of a motte and bailey fort, the smallest of its class in the county. The top of the mount is surrounded by a rampart and the entrance to it is on the southwest. The entrance to the bailey was originally to the north.

3. Site visit 2nd December 1952. The bailey has been practically obliterated but seems to have followed the line of the present hedge on the west and south, and the wall bordering the road on the east and north.

4. Site visit 3rd December 1952. The motte is a prominent feature, grass covered and surmounted by a clump of trees. Suggested that the alleged course of the bailey bank make it appear unnecessarily large and irregular and the it was probably only small, to conform with the motte (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1954 - 1980, SX87SW 8 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card))

Date of castle impossible to establish. Situation suggests it might be a campaign foundation of the Norman conquest phase, but it could be a Civil War (Stephen) castle or a domestic site, precursor of Bradley Manor. Small triangular bailey. The idea of a larger additional bailey may be due to a belief in the existing bailey being too small (Higham, R. A., 1979).

Site lies on hilltop in rough field and garden. Strategic position with good view down Teign estuary. Site surrounded by housing, which covers south-east part of area shown as scheduled on Ancient Monuments maplet. The south-western bailey extends beyond scheduled area into garden to west of field in which motte stands. Motte has concave top surrounded by nine trees. No trees shown on 1821 plan. The bailey on the south-west side of the motte is not entirely convincing. It has a sloping interior and its form has been diminished by terracing for a tennis court in the garden to the west. The Ordnance Survey plan does not show the western extent of the possible bailey bank into this garden. No trace of a north-eastern second bailey depicted in Archaeologia plan which cannot now be followed on the ground (Timms, S. C. + Robinson, R., 1984, Untitled Source (Personal Comment)). (Devon and Dartmoor HER)

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 ReferenceSX846719
Latitude50.5359115600586
Longitude-3.62961006164551
Eastings284610
Northings71940
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Robin Stott and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.

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Books

  • 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. 116
  • Wall, C., 1906, in Page, Wm (ed), 'Ancient Earthworks' VCH Devon Vol. 1 p. 618

Journals

  • 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
  • Woolner, D. and Woolner, A., 1953, 'Castle Dyke, Highweek, Newton Abbot' Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 85 p. 133-138
  • Harris, S.G., 1884, 'Notes on the History of Highweek' Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 16 p. 435-43
  • Lysons, S., 1821, 'An account of some discoveries made in taking down the old bridge over the River Teign, and in excavating the ground to the depth of fifteen feet five inches below the surface of the water' Archaeologia Vol. 19 p 313 plate xviii

Other

  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 105 online copy (new entry)
  • Higham, R.A., 1979, The Castles of Medieval Devon (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) Downloadable from EThOS