Motte & Bailey Castle sites in Northumberland

These Traces are mostly grassy mounds and I feel that they hardly warrant a page to themselves. I have given the OS Reference by way of directions.

For their histories see below

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Birtley Castle

Location Landranger sheet 87


NY 877 778

Bolam Castle

Location Landranger sheet 81


NZ 086 862

This is on Private land No Access

Cornhill Castle

Location Landranger sheet 75


NT 855 405

On the south bank of the River Tweed

Haltwhistle Castle


Landranger sheet 86/87


NY 712 641

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Old print Castle Hill Haltwhistle
Lowick Castle

Location Landranger sheet 75


NU 033 395

No mention, but site has all the aspects of M & B

Wark on Tweed Castle (see new page)

Location Landranger sheet 74


NT 822 388

Warden Castle

Location Landranger sheet 87


NY 912 665

This is on Private land, access with the permision of the house owner

Wooler Castle

Location Landranger sheet 75


NY 993 281


Location Landranger sheet 75

NT 981 278


Birtley :- NY877778/Trace/Access Alleged site of Birtley Castle, possibly built by the Umframvilles in the late C12. In the garden of Birtley Hall stand the ruins of a stone building, now much denuded and incorporated into an ornamental garden. This may represent part of the medieval castle or could be the remains of a later tower, built in 1611. The site is poorly documented. Back to Images

Bolam :-NY 086823/Traces/No Access There is some doubt as to whether this was the site of Motte and Bailey Castle, I have however placed the pictures in that category. Henry I gave land here to Gilbert de Newcastle who is assumed to have created the enclosure with a 2m high rampart and a ditch 2m deep on the site of an older fort. Gilbert's son James d.1165 took the name de Bolam. After much change of ownership involving the de Caus (Caux) family, including a forced marriage of Margaret to Richard Gosebek, it passed to Robert de Reymes. Robert is claimed to be the builder of the tower house that once stood here. Also described as Iron Age defended settlement surviving as an earthwork. Jackson writes "settlement was possibly adapted, in C12, into a motte and bailey castle" (although he does not identify a mound) He dates the tower to late C13 and built by Robert de Reymes. This was burnt by the Scots in early C14 and described in 1323 as 'the site of an ancient manor the capital messuage worth nothing owing to the destruction of the Scots'. All traces of the Tower were removed to provide materials for the building of Bolam hall. The site was planted with trees in the 19th Century. Bolam in 1305 was granted a Market and Fair and there were once two hundred houses around the village green. Now only three mansions and a church (with an Anglo-Saxon tower) survive. Back to Images

Cornhill :-NT855405/Traces/Access A tree clad mound with a summit rising 3m above a ditch to the west to a summit 31m by 23m lies high above the south side of the Tweed. The earthwork remains of a probable motte and bailey. The castle is first mentioned in documentary sources in the late 14th century when it was taken and demolished by the Scots. It seems to have suffered several times from cross-border conflicts between the 14th and 16th centuries. The 1541 survey records the Tower as having been recently repaired by Gilbert Swinhowe. In 1549 the "castle of Cornhill", then described as "an old house of considerable strength" was captured by a combined Scottish and French force under General D'Esse, a good store of salted salmon being found inside. The castle was last recorded in the late 18th century but its demolition seems to have been complete. An extensive RCHME survey states that nothing survives of the structure of the castle which formerly occupied a spur overlooking the River Tweed though there are a few earthworks remaining on the edge of a river cliff above the River Tweed. PastScape record writes "not reoccupied" after 1385 but elsewhere is written to have been rebuilt after this and to be recorded in 1549 the 'castle of Cornhill' 'an old house of considerable strength' when taken by combined force of Scots and French. King records this as the site of "Tower, small, with a barmkin, in a very fine position."Castleton Nich; Castle Stone Nick; Cornhill Tower; Cornval; Cornouaille; Cornehylle; Cornell Back to Images

Haltwhistle:- NY 712641/Traces/Access Probable early Norman ringwork castle partially surviving as an earthwork. Modern development has destroyed much, but a substantial bank remains on the east side. Presumably well out of use before Musgrove Tower was erected within banks. Excavations on the hill in 1992 found medieval pottery. Back to Images

Lowick:-NU 033395/Trace/Access No remains of Swinburnes tower recorded in 1541. Ring motte surviving as an earthwork, partly overlying the site of an earlier enclosure of which no trace remains. The main earthwork has been formed by cutting off the promontory by a deep ditch. Spoil from the ditch has been used to form a strong inner rampart on the south east side of the enclosed area which has deen scarped to form an almost perfect circle. The main ditch has an average width of 13m with an inner bank 2.5m high internally and 5m above the bottom of the ditch. Back to Images

Wark on Tweed:-NT 822388/Traces/peripheral Access It was in this Castle in about 1348 that Edward III was said to have founded the Order of the Garter. It was at a ball, after the king had again defeated the Scots, that the Countess of Salisbury dropped her garter. The king to prevent his courtiers mocking her, fastened it on to his own leg, with the words "Evil to him who thinks evil of it" The moto in French Honi soit qui mal y pence is still embroidered in gold on the insignia of the Knights of the Garter.

Earthwork remains of an early C12 motte-and-bailey castle. Walter Espec built this Castle in 1136 having been granted the manor by Henry I, " the castle of Carham or Carrum which in english is called Wark" was captured by King David of Scotland. In 1138 it withstood three sieges by the Scots. The garrison were eventually starved into surrender but in recognition of their gallant defence the were allowed to go free and given 24 horses to replace those they had been forced to eat during the seige. The Castle was then destroyed. It was refortified in 1157-61 and in the early C13 when an octagonal shell keep was raised on the motte and a curtain wall, with towers and a gatehouse were constructed. In the south east corner the outer ward replaced the early bailey defences. Probably dismantled in 1549. The visible remains of the castle largely relate to C16 building phases as the medieval castle was partly demolished and re-built on numerous occasions. The Inner Ward consists of a mound 11m high with a base diameter of 50m which appears to be a simple motte but must be, in fact mainly the remains of an artillery platform, 'the ring' of 1543, enclosing a masonry tower of earlier date. the top of the mound has been disturbed by excavations in 1862. The curtain wall of the Middle Ward survives as a bank 1.4m high running down the north slope of the mound and as a bank 3m high with visible masonry on the east slope. The village of Wark mostly sits in the area that was the Bailey. Carham; Carrum; Werke Sup Twedam Back to Images

Warden:- NY911665/Traces/Access with Permission Earthwork remains of a Norman motte castle. It is situated in an excellent commanding position on a promontory, overlooking the confluence of two major rivers (North Tyne and South Tyne). The promontory has been isolated by the construction of a strong ditch across the neck, and heightened so that the level top now stands 2m above the level of the ground to the north west. A defensive bank has been has been erected south east of the ditch, elsewhere defences are natural and precipitous. The original entrance was probably on the west side. Sometimes described as Partial ringwork. Is in the back garden of a private house. Back to Images

Wooler:- NT 992280/Trace/Access The mound of which fragments of C16 Tower lie is believed to be natural, rather than artificial, but is the probable site of a C12 castle with timber defences which belonged to the Muschamps. Documentary evidence records that it was disused by 1255 and the site was not reoccupied until the tower was built in the early C16.

Wooler (Green) :- Also Possibly a Motte & Bailey castle at NT 981278 Back to Images

Other Northumberland castles

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