Restormel Castle

estormel Castle is located in Cornwall a mile to the north of Lostwithiel. A motte and bailey castle with a roughly rectangular bailey was built at Restormel in around 1100 by the Norman Baldwin Fitz Turstin. Restormel castle has an excellent example of a shell-keep. A shell-keep is a circular construction built usually on top of the motte with the buildings arranged around the inside. The height of the remains of the shell-keep at Restormel are still to the battlements in places. The concentric inner wall formed the two-storey accomodation between it and the outer wall and enclosed a circular courtyard. The ground floor was used for store rooms and the upper floor was used for living chambers and the great hall. on the eastern side of the sheel-keep and extending out into the ditch around the motte is the chapel block. On the western side is the gate house. This would have had a drawbridge for protection.

The castle passed first to the Cardinham family and eventually became part of the Duchy of Cornwall. Very little appears to have happened at Restormel, but it was garrisoned by Parliamentary troops during the English Civil War and captured by Sir Richard Grenville in 1644.


Restormel Castle Key Facts
CountyCornwall (6 castles)
DirectionsA mile north of Lostwithiel on minor road.
CategoriesMotte & Bailey / Stone
An excellent example of a shell-keep.
OwnershipBaronial castle
RemainsSmall amount survives
Access to siteOnly open at certain times


An imaginative plan of the Restormel Castle shell-keep

Click on the image for a larger version

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Motte and Bailey Castles

Virtual reconstruction

The Norman Conquerors built their castles in locations where they could keep control of the local populations of Saxons or at important locations such as river crossings or on key roads. Many motte and bailey castles were built on the border with Wales to try and keep the Welsh at bay. The advantage of this type of castle was that it was quick to construct. Making a fortification from wood was much easier than making one of stone.

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