Trematon Castle is of similar design to Restormel castle with a 12th century shell-keep. For over nine centuries Trematon Castle has overlooked Plymouth harbor. Near Saltash it was built by Reginald De Valle Torta on the ruins of an earlier Roman fort. The Normans built this motte-and-bailey castle soon after the conquest. It occupies a commanding position 1.5 miles south-east of Trematon village.
Both Trematon Castle and Restormel were stone keeps raised on earlier mottes. Today both are in ruins but give an excellent impression of an original shell keep. Trematon has a shell wall 10 feet thick and 30 feet high. You can see how the stone wall of the enclosure was carried up the sides of the motte as two wing walls joining the keep.
The internal diameter is about 70 feet. The rectangular gatehouse, built in 1270, has two stories and a portcullis. Both are still in good condition today.
Saltash was founded as a market town by the lord of Trematon Castle in the 12th century. Saltash was sited at a point where an ancient highway crossed the Tamar estuary by means of a ferry. By the end of that century Saltash had achieved borough status.
From the time of the Norman Conquest until 1270 the rights for the ferry from Saltash Passage on the Plymouth side of the river Tamar to Saltash belonged to the Valletort family. When Roger de Valletort sold Trematon Castle and Manor to Richard Earl of Cornwall, the rent was paid to the Earl’s bailiff. This amounted to £6 18s in the 1290s.
When Sir Francis Drake returned from his round the world voyage in 1580, the treasures he garnered from Spanish treasure galleons were stored in Trematon Castle. The cache consisted of gold, silver, and emeralds - the result of plundering Spanish ships along the west coast of South America. We also know that before being transported and stored in London Tower, this treasure was taken off the Golden Hinde and stored here.
The Norman castle is now a ruin. It is owned by the Prince of Wales, as Duke of Cornwall. Closed to the public
Tremanton Castle the gatehouse
Cornwall Castles Map