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Hemyock Castle
Ancient Heart of the Blackdowns

Dovecote Tower?

Recent conservation work on Hemyock Castle's North-East tower has unearthed some unexplained features.

At the base of the tower, beneath a 19th Century cobbled floor, archaeologists have found another, older cobbled floor with a large central hole. There are closely spaced putlog type holes around the inside walls of the tower.

Mystery Hole in Floor of NE Tower
Mystery Hole in floor & putlog holes in wall

The closely spaced putlog holes around the wall suggest that there was a strong wooden floor to support heavy weights. But why have a wooden floor so close to the cobbled floor?

The central hole is about 1 metre in diameter, with a stone lined rim.

Ideas, and reports of similar features welcomed.

Similar Features

Dunster Castle near Minehead, had a Dovecote Tower. Many rows of nesting boxes were built into the inner wall of the tower and there was a complicated revolving ladder to provide access.

Dovecote Tower, Dunster Castle
Dovecote Tower and Ladder, Dunster Castle

Pigeons were reared for meat and eggs. However, because they ate the crops, only the lord of the manor was allowed to keep them.

Dovecote Tower, Dunster Castle, Nestboxes
Nestboxes in Dovecote Tower, Dunster Castle

Bodiam Castle had a combined dovecote and well tower near its kitchen. Apparently, the water was derived from the moat and used only for washing or brewing into ale – or fighting fires! Presumably it was also used for watering any horses and live stock.

This combined dovecote and well seems a possible explanation for the Hemyock tower. Perhaps it provided a safe means of drawing large quantities of water from the moat and allowed the real well to be kept for more important domestic purposes.

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Hemyock Castle, Hemyock, CULLOMPTON, Devon, EX15 3RJ, UK.
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