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Belford Westhall Tower

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Belford West Hall; Castrum de Belfurth; Castrum de Beleford

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NU10293398
Latitude 55.59966° Longitude -1.83688°

Belford Westhall Tower has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a certain Pele Tower.

There are no visible remains.


Westhall is the site of a tower or 'fortilage'. Remains of a moat can be traced, and the inequalities of the ground mark the foundations of a building. Human bones and a pair of 15th C spurs were found some years ago by workmen enlarging the mill pond, formerly part of the moat (Bateson 1893).
Listed in 1415 (Bates 1891).
No building foundations are now visible. The NE angle and eastern arm of the moat have been obliterated by the modern farm, and the remainder greatly reduced by ploughing, so that virtually only the southern arm and SW angle survive (F1 WDJ 29-NOV-64 ).
There may have been a motte and bailey here in the late 11th century, but the first recorded building was an unfortified manor house which Edward III spent the night in on his return form the Battle of Halidon Hill, 1333. By 1415 the manor house had been replaced by the 'Castrum de Beleford', a strong tower. The moat was dug at this time as part of the building's defence (Dodds 1999). (PastScape)

In the survey of 1415, there is named a 'Castrum de Belfurth' belonging to 'Dom de Dacre' (Lord Darce), but probably used by Thomas Lylburn, which by 1509 was recommended for a garrison by 40 horsemen. Remains of a moat can be traced although it has been partly built upon and plough damaged. Human bones and a C15 spur were found when enlarging the mill pond, formerly part of the moat, in C19. The 1715 survey records it a "formerly possessed by ye Armorers, now to Sr Robert Shafto."

See Belford Westhall Motte for discussion as the possible earlier castle.

Earthworks survive, C19 castellated farm sometimes said to be on site of a C11 Motte and Bailey. Although the presence of the later tower suggests this may have been a high status location the very nearby presence of a strong natural position and already existing Prehistoric camp at Chapel Crag, which has a Norman chapel on it, would suggest this may not be the sole or earliest manorial centre. What reason would there be to build a motte here when there is a more dramatic, better defended but still easily accessible site is so close by? If there was a C11 or C12 castle at Belford the remains of the the Chapel of St Mary at NU10463449 suggest where it was located.
The other aspect to this question is a consideration of the reasons for building a manor house on the level lands. The spring line runs about the 75m contour above the Tower but below the Chapel Crag camps so water supply may be one issue. Closeness to the fields and ease of access to the village and parish church may be other considerations.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:09

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