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Scrainwood Tower

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Screnwood; Scenwood; Screenwood; Skrynwood; Scranwood; Screynwood; Scrynwood; Skranwood

In the civil parish of Alnham.
In the historic county of Northumberland.
Modern Authority of Northumberland.
1974 county of Northumberland.
Medieval County of Northumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NT99180944
Latitude 55.37909° Longitude -2.01510°

Scrainwood Tower has been described as a probable Pele Tower.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


A tower and barmkin at Scrainwood are first mentioned in the beginning of the reign of Henry VIII (1509). They are described in the Survey of 1541, as being of the inheritance of John Horseley and kept in very good repair (Bates 1891).
Some years ago, the ruins of a large house with walls of great thickness, having pointed doorways and mullioned windows, besides other old foundations, were standing in the fields east of the present Screnwood House. It is very probable that these were the remains of the border tower and barmkin of the Horseleys (Dixon 1895).
NT 99180944 No traces of antiquity are visible in the present buildings at Scrainwood and Mr Snaithe the present occupier was unaware of the former existence of a tower there. The surface area of the south west portion of the field east of the house (referred to by Dixon), however is very disturbed and contains banks of earth and stones - generally of indeterminate shape. At NT 99150945 is the only feature recognisable as a building foundation. It consists of an enclosure 6m square formed by banks 1.8m wide and of 0.3m maximum height. Whether this was the tower is doubtful, but it appears likely that the tower did stand somewhere within the disturbed area - as suggested. The site is overlooked by higher ground from all directions except the south, but nowhere in the vicinity of Scrainwood is there an ideal defensive site for a tower (F1 DAD 01-MAY-1957)
It is possible to discern about three probable house platforms as stated in report of 30/5/57 but they are too amorphous to warrant survey. There is no trace of a tower or barmkin. Otherwise as described (F4 ISS 01-FEB-1977)
Scrainwood was a member of the barony of Alnwick. 1296: 12 taxpayers. But in 1377 the Poll Tax return recorded 33 adults. Armstrong's map of 1769 shows a farm and Mackenzie described it as a farmhold. D D Dixon records a tradition that there was 'a large house with walls of great thickness, having pointed doorways and mullioned windows, besides other old foundations, were standing in the green field east of the present Screnwood House'. Earthworks were recognised in the field to the east of the present farm at the above grid reference. Site of former tower was not ascertained (Dixon 1984). (Northumberland HER)

The exact site of this tower is lost but further investigation (geophysics and/or lidar) may well produce evidence for location and even size of the tower. The tower was suggested as able to hold a garrison of 20 men in 1509 which was the minimum size of the garrisons in that listing. This suggests a pele tower with attached unfortified hall.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

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