Note on nobility.

At the end of the C12th, there were three baronies in Cornwall, Launceston, Cardinham and Trematon.

Launceston merges with the Duchy when Richard of the Romans takes it over. The previous holder of both titles having died without heirs in 1175, the land returned to the Crown, so that Henry III could hand it out. It is centred on Launceston.

In 1166 Tremarton had 59 knights fees, so it was relatively large. It was held by the de Valletort family, but sold to Richard of the Romans in 1270 for 300 pounds. The family was prominent in Devon.

Cardinham had 79 knight’s fees in 1166. The ruler is Robert de Cardinham (there are three of them in a row). The barony keeps going until 1501. They held a castle at Cardinham, which was originally a motte and bailey put up by one of Robert of Mortain’s supporters. I can’t see reference to it being redone in stone. They also owned Restmorel Castle, which was their headquarters in the game period.

They rebuilt it in stone, making it into a shell keep, sometime during the lordship of the Robert who was around from 1192-1225. They also set up the village of Lostwithiel at this time.  At some point is is given away in dowry for Isolda de Cardinham, and her hsuband, Thomas de Tracey, holds it until 1264, when it is taken by the baron’s revolt, then taken back by the king’s forces in 1265. With some politicking, Isolda gives it to Richard of the Romans in 1270, who dies. His son makes it his seat of power in the duchy.


There are four great Norman castles in Cornwall: Launceston, Restmorel, Tintagel and Tremarton. Fortunately two of those are virtually the same.

Bocastle: At this stage it’s a Norman motte and bailey castle.

Carn Brea: Although my sources mention this, I can’t trace a castle here back before 1478. The modern castle is a C18th folly.

Ennor: a shell keep in the Old Town of Scilly.

Helston: This was in ruins by 1478.  It may have been a fortified manor house. It’s recorded as being put up by an earl of Cornwall.

Launceston: This castle was originally built by Robert of Mortain as a Norman motte and bailey (timber and earth) castle. The castle took up the south-west quarter of the town, and had its keep in the north-east corner of the enclosure, so it was near the town centre. In the late 12th century, the keep was replaced in stone, and two stone gatehouses added. Over time towers were added to the walls, the buildings in the bailey were redone in stone.

When Richard takes over, he replaces the keep with a high tower, remakes the walls, and ties the castle’s defences to those of the town. He also clears out the bailey and puts in a new great hall.

Ruan Lanihorne: dates from 1334.

St Michael’s Mont: clearly needs a map. I need to find one with clear rights.

Tintagel: Was rebuilt substantially by Richard of the Romans to tie his house to the myth of Arthur.  Many of the ruins now visible there are from his time. I need a map with rights in period, but English Heritage have a pdf.

Tregony: A motte and bailey built by Henry de Pomeroy on behalf of John, Earl of Cornwall, in the reign of Richard 1 (no later than 1199).

Trematon:  Probably a Roman fort, remodelled by Robert of Mortain into a motte and bailey. Richard of the Romans buys it in 1270 for 300 pounds, and it’s still owned by the Duchy of Cornwall today. It’s now a shell keep and stone walled bailey, a lot like Restmorel, and I’m tempted to say that Richard fitted it out, but can’t prove that.

Truro Castle: abandoned, indeed the land is vacant, by 1270.  May be pre-Norman, may have been motte and bailey. No evidence that it was adulterine when built or rebuilt in the Anarchy.

Pegerswick: fortfied manor house. Dates from 1510. I’m keeping it because I want the sorcererous lord.


A – gate; B – guest chambers; C – kitchen; D – hall; E – solar; F – chapel







2 replies on “Cornwall: Castles – further notes

    1. Yes. One of the problems of using 16th century books is that spelling was a bit hit and miss. Thanks for pointing this out. I’ll fix it in the final version.


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