Totnes Castle

Things To See and Do

Climb the Steps

Climb the steps of the castle keep and you are rewarded with breathaking views across the town of Totnes and the River Dart. You can trace the development of the town through the centuries in the architecture of the buildings - can you pick out High Street, Saxon in origin flanked by the Butterwalk and Poultry Walk, which indicate the site of an early market place.

The Castle Keep

Originally the castle was an earthwork and timber construction but in the early 13th century, the shell keep was built to crown the mound and was later rebuilt and this is what you can see today. Circular in shape, it is one of the best preserved of the three such keeps in Devon and you can still see the defensive arrow slits and battlements if you look closely.

The Saxon town of Totnes

Totnes Castle commands a dominant position overlooking the town of Totnes. From Saxon times, the town developed crafts, industries and a mint issuing coins to become an extremely prosperous centre for trade. Today it is still a thriving town, popular with the artistic community with a great range of independent shops, cafes and galleries, all within easy walking distance of the castle.

A Home for Powerful Rulers

Thought to have been built by Juhel, a commander in William the Conquerer's army, the castle passed through the ownership of Henry, son of the Earl of Cornwall and the de la Zouche family whose main estates lay in Northamptonshire. It later passed to Sir Richard Edgecombe of Cotehele, located on the Cornwall border. Find out more about this history in the guide book.

Relax in the Bailey

Step into the courtyard or bailey and find yourself in a grassed area sheltered by trees. Centuries ago, this would have bustled with activity and was crammed with timber buildings including accommodation for the Garrison. Today you can enjoy a peaceful picnic or escape the hustle of the town centre. Can you spot the graffiti on the tree carved by prisoners during the Second World War?

The Moat Walk

Once you have explored the castle keep and bailey, take a walk around the outside wall of the castle to see the steep sided ditch and outer bank which would have formed part of the original defences for the entrance. Now covered in wild flowers and plants, it is a beautiful walk giving you a sense of how it would have looked centuries ago.

A Sheltered Spot

One of the ancient trees standing in the bailey of the castle is a Holm Oak, thought to be over 150 years old and reaching to the height of the castle keep. Offering a sheltered spot for visitors to relax and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, it is a fine example of this beautiful tree whose name is the ancient word for holly.

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