R Rougemont Castle

Rougemont is a natural rock knoll of volcanic trap, and the source of the second most important building material in Exeter! Trap and Heavitree Stone can easily be told apart. Trap is purple rather than red; it often contains small round holes where air bubbles were trapped as the rock cooled; and it is easier to square off and less prone to erosion.

Rougemont trap was used in Exeter’s City Walls, built in the Roman, Anglo-Saxon and medieval periods. It also figures strongly in the Castle itself. Parts of the Castle remains that we see now date from Anglo-Saxon times. William the Conqueror fortified the site further after besieging and subduing Exeter in 1068-69. The timber stockade he built was replaced by walls by the early 12th century.

It is thought that the stone gatehouse was built in the early 1070s, as it has Saxon and Norman features. The arch on the outer side of the gatehouse was blocked up later, dated to the early-mid 14th century as there was no Heavitree Stone in the work.

By 1325, the Castle was in bad condition. For the next 300 years, there are no records of repairs to the defences, only to buildings. So much of the Heavitree Stone that you can see was used during the Civil War to improve the fortifications in a number of sections. The masonry is mostly coursed squared blocks of Heavitree Stone, with a scattering of trap and sandstone.

You can certainly see a great deal of Heavitree Stone in the gatehouse now, and also in the wall and gateways to Rougemont House and in the buildings further down Little Castle Street.


  1. Exeter City Historic Environment Record, Castle Gatehouse - http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=1816686&resourceID=1054
  2. Exeter City Historic Environment Record, Castle Gatehouse - http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=1816408&resourceID=1054
  3. Exeter City Historic Environment Records, Repairs and Upgrading, 1640-50 - 1817198, 1817200, 1817201, 1817204, 1817205, 1817206
  4. Archaeology Data Service - http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archsearch/record?titleId=1102316
  5. Historic England Listed Building, Rougemont House - https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1104053
  6. Historic England Scheduled Monument, Rougemont Castle - https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1003866
  7. Historic England Pastscape - https://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=448314

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