Ancient Monuments

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Marisco Castle, Lundy

A Scheduled Monument in Area not comprised in any Parish-Lundy Island, Devon

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Latitude: 51.163 / 51°9'46"N

Longitude: -4.6595 / 4°39'34"W

OS Eastings: 214144.40687

OS Northings: 143775.462499

OS Grid: SS141437

Mapcode National: GBR GTWM.0G1

Mapcode Global: VH2SB.6129

Entry Name: Marisco Castle, Lundy

Scheduled Date: 17 June 1970

Last Amended: 10 June 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016034

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27644

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Area not comprised in any Parish-Lundy Island

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Lundy

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes Marisco castle, situated in a prominent cliff-top
setting at the south east corner of Lundy. The history of a castle on this
site begins with the construction of a shell keep and bailey on the order of
Henry III in 1243. In 1643, during the Civil War, the royalist Thomas Bushell
restored the castle `from the ground at his own charge'. The present remains
seem to date from this restoration as well as including subsequent additions
and comprise a keep, a parade ground revetted with stone, a curtain wall on
the north side, a fosse or outer ditch on the north and west sides and a
storage cave to the east.
The keep is built of granite with battered walls, rectangular in plan and with
domed chimneys at each corner. The crenellations have been filled in and the
walls brought up to the height of the chimneys. This now forms a courtyard to
protect the cottages which have been inserted into the interior during the
19th century. An additional cottage was also constructed during the 19th
century attached to the north wall of the keep. The construction of the keep
now visible appears to be wholly the work of Thomas Bushell with later
modifications. The earlier medieval foundations will survive beneath the
present building.
The east side of the castle has a terrace revetted with stone and with a
bastion on the east corner. This is known as the Parade Ground. This was part
excavated in 1984 and 1985 by archaeologists from the National Trust and
subsequently the wall footings were consolidated. On the north side there are
extensive remains of a curtain wall showing both medieval and 17th century
fabrics. Outside these features are the remains of a fosse or outer ditch. To
the west the outer ditch is confused by the construction of later boundaries
and a trackway although the outline of its course can be traced through these
Within the enclosure are the remains of the Old House to the south side of the
parade ground and the `smithy' which was revealed by the 1984 excavations. The
Old House was a substantial building of the 17th century, probably built by
Bushell as his own residence. This survived until the construction of the
Manor Farm house in the village in the late 18th century. This is now a
consolidated ruin. The smithy has been excavated and part backfilled to
protect the remains of a furnace, floor cobbles, drains and interior
partitions from erosion by visitors and stock.
To the east of the parade ground and below it is Benson's Cave. This is a man
made tunnel with a guard house of brick. It is 19.5m long and 2.5m wide and is
reputed to have been made in the 18th century by Thomas Benson, the criminal
MP, who used it for concealing contraband. It may have been constructed as a
powder store during the refurbishing of the castle in 1643. During the 19th
century it was used for smoking fish.
Marisco castle, the keep and bailey walls are also listed Grade II*.
The refurbished cottages inside the keep and the house attached to the north
wall are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath these
buildings is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Lundy is a small, steep sided island in the Bristol Channel, 16m north of
Hartland Point, north Devon. Aligned north-south, it is 6km long by 1km wide
and supports a predominately moorland vegetation. The 100m high cliffs and
tabular form give it a striking appearance, visible in clear weather from
parts of south west England and south Wales.
Lundy's remoteness and (until the 19th century construction of the Beach Road)
its inaccessibility, combined with a lack of shelter and cultivable soils, has
meant that it has escaped more recent occupation or development. It therefore
preserves a remarkable variety of archaeological sites from early prehistory
(c.8000 BC) onwards, representing evidence for habitation, fortification,
farming and industry. There are also archaeological remains in the waters
surrounding the island - over 150 shipwrecks are already recorded. Most of the
island's archaeology is well documented from detailed survey in the 1980s and

A shell keep castle is a masonry enclosure, extending around the top of an
earlier motte or castle ringwork, and replacing the existing timber palisades;
there are a few cases where the wall is built lower down the slope or even at
the bottom. The enclosure is usually rounded or sub-rounded but other shapes
are also known. A shell keep is relatively small, normally between 15 and 25m
diameter, with few buildings, and perhaps one tower only, within its interior.
Shell keeps were built over a period of about 150 years, from not long after
the Norman Conquest until the mid-13th century; most were built in the 12th
century. They provided strongly fortified residences for the king or leading
families and occur in both urban and rural situations.
Shell keep castles are widely dispersed throughout England with a marked
concentration in the Welsh Marches. The distribution also extends into Wales
and to a lesser extent into Scotland. They are rare nationally with only 71
recorded examples. Considerable diversity of form is exhibited with no two
examples being exactly alike. Along with other castle types, they are major
medieval monument types which, belonging to the highest levels of society,
frequently acted as major administrative centres and formed the foci for
developing settlement patterns. Castles generally provide an emotive and
evocative link to the past and can provide a valuable education resource, both
with respect to medieval warfare and defence, and to wider aspects of medieval
society. All examples retaining significant remains of medieval date are
considered to be nationally important.
The shell keep castle known as Marisco Castle is unusual both in its form and
in the subsequent treatment of the original structure. Despite having been
ruined twice in its history, much survives of the 17th century garrison
building and the house used by the owner during the Civil War. Excavations
have demonstrated well the nature and quality of surviving buried remains.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Langham, A M, Lundy Bristol Channel, (1960)
Thackray, C, The National Trust Archaeological Survey, (1989)
Thackray, C, The National Trust Archaeological Survey, (1989)

Source: Historic England

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