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Okehampton Castle

Visited May 2013

Location Okehampton, Devon
Entrance Fee Yes
Railway Station Nearby Yes- Heritage line (Summer Sundays only)
Parking Yes
Facilities Toilets, Gift shop


Nestled into woodland on the edge of Dartmoor, Okehampton is one of the largest castles in Devon. The site is dominated by the large motte with the distinctive ruined tower at the top- the odd looking piece protruding out in the middle of the tower is the remains of the stairwell.






It was built soon after the Norman conquest by Baldwin de Brionne, who was married to the Conqueror's cousin Emma. He built his castle in Okehampton as it was the mid point of his lands, and on the main route into Cornwall. The motte is semi natural- it was built on an existing hill which was enlarged by adding material on top from a deeply dug ditch. The tower on top was built in stone, unusual for an early Norman castle, but the bailey was probably enclosed in wood palisade. This was later re-built in stone.





There is a fair bit to see here, mainly due to the castle seeing virtually no action at all, so was not particularly damaged, it just fell into disrepair due to the owners not needing it anymore. The surrounding land was turned into a deer park and used for hunting, there are some woodland walks around the castle ruins in what remains of the deer park today.


The first part of the ruins to be viewed are the scant remains of the barbican, but as you head further up the hill the gatehouse is still pretty much intact on one side. There are also the remains of the great hall, kitchens, chapel, and priest's lodgings.





There are steps up the motte leading to the remains of the keep. From the top there are great views of the triangular-shaped castle bailey, but be careful as the motte is not fenced at all and it is a steep drop. The keep was actually quite small for a defensive castle, and probably would not have withstood a long siege, so just as well it was never put to the test.


The castle also has some interesting windows, the stone frames are still intact in many of the rooms.


The castle has a small amount of souvenirs available at the entrance booth, you can also buy ice creams and hot drinks there. There are benches/picnic tables situated around the grounds. The site is on a slope so may be tricky for children in buggies, but older children should have no particular difficulty.







More info:  English Heritage Okehampton Castle

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