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OKEHAMPTON CASTLE

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Okehampton Castle was built shortly after the Norman Conquest and is strategically situated close to the centre of Devon where important routes meet, on a natural spur of shale that was separated from the hillside by a huge ditch. It was recorded in the Domesday survey of 1086 AD as belonging to Baldwin of Brionne, who had become sheriff of Devon in 1070 AD. By 1274, the castle, in the ownership of the Courtenay family, had become semi-derelict. Several years later it was rebuilt and extended, not as a fortress but as an occasional residence at the centre of a great deer park. In 1539, Edward Courtenay was suspected of treason and was executed by Henry VIII. The castle was stripped of its fixtures and fittings and fell into decay, being used as a source of building material for local people. The castle includes a large mound, the motte on which is situated a stone keep. The extant remains include the structure of the 11th century square keep built by Baldwin. This was added to in the 14th century to create a three storey rectangular structure. The motte, which is about 8 metres in height, comprises of the natural spur and artificially built-up deposits. To the north-east of the motte was the bailey that contained the buildings used to feed and house the occupants. The surviving buildings mostly date to the 14th century and would have originally comprised of a great hall, stables, a chapel, kitchens and other domestic or storerooms. The bailey was defended by curtain walls, which may date to the 12th century, along the north and south sides. At the north eastern end was a double gatehouse connected by a corridor. To the west of the motte are earthworks, which are thought to represent the remains of an earlier bailey of similar construction to the motte. The residual finds of Roman tile and pottery found near the castle are believed to indicate the possible site of a villa. The castle is in the care of English Heritage.

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