|One of the largest castle ruins in the South West, it is
sited on a long, thin shale outcrop in a wooded valley just outside the
town of Okehampton. The castle was probably built after 1068, by Baldwin
de Brionne, Sheriff of Devon who had been given extensive lands in Devon
for helping William the Conqueror suppress a Saxon revolt in the West Country.
The castle started out as a motte, which gained a stone keep in the late
11th century. In 1172 Okehampton came into the ownership of the Courtenay
family, one of the great aristocratic families of England. They continued
to hold the castle for the next 350 years. From the 12th century, the main
use of the castle was as a hunting lodge as the surrounding estates were
rich hunting grounds filled with deer and wild boar. A second building was
added to the keep in the early 14th century, along with a range of new buildings
further down the ridge. The castle was abandoned in 1539 after its owner,
Henry Courtenay, Marquis of Exeter, was found guilty of conspiracy and executed
by Henry VIII.