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Berwick Town Wall , Spades Mire and Lord's Mount

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
The Ditches; Cowgate; Scotsgate; Bell Tower; Shore Gate

In the civil parish of Berwick upon Tweed.
In the historic county of Berwick upon Tweed.
Modern Authority of Northumberland.
1974 county of Northumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NT998524
Latitude 55.77064° Longitude -1.99791°

Berwick Town Wall , Spades Mire and Lord's Mount has been described as a certain Artillery Fort, and also as a certain Urban Defence.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Town Walls commenced by Edward I, with no remains for that period, and then completely remodelled for artillery defence with angle Earthen and stone rampart from 1558 onwards. The Elizabethan ramparts with their bastions, gateways and earthworks survive. Spades Mire is an earthwork linear ditches, possibly forming an outer line of defence for medieval Berwick. Evidence suggests that the earthwork is earlier than the late C13 and early C14 defences of Berwick upon Tweed. The earthwork survives as a pronounced linear ditch 672m long ranging from 10m to 25m wide and from 0.9m to 3m deep. Situated on the south side of the ditch are traces of an accompanying rampart, now much spread and up to 13m wide. The earlier works culminated in the original mediaeval walls, their modifications, and the creation of a citadel between the Great Bulwark and St Nicholas's Tower on the East side of the town. This was to built high enough to command the castle, and was to incorporate 4 angle bastions also mounting artillery. Although constructed, the new modifications to Berwick were inadequate for the all round task of providing defence for the town, and it was realised that a radical solution was required, culminating in the Italianate bastioned trace defences of the Elizabethan period.

The Lord's Mount is a massive curved stone bulwark which was built in the 1540s to protect the town walls at their weakest point. An earth bulwark had been built in front of the medieval bell tower in 1522, overlooking the long bank and ditch in the fields to the north of the walls, later recut and known as 'Spades Mire'. By 1539, however, the bulwark needed to "be made smaller so that fewer men could guard...where the walls were weakest". The construction of Lord's Mount marked a small but significant step in the development of military architecture. It has six vaulted gun casements, each with expense magazines in the side walls, and smoke vents. The sills of the casemates originally had pin holes for swivel guns, which were later replaced by guns on simple carriages. There was once a kitchen here, and the remains of the fireplace can still be seen. The upper floor also has gun embrasures, but it was used principally for accommodation, with an upper gun deck behind a parapet.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
  • Websites (Gatehouse is not responsible for the content of external websites.)
  • Books
    • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 30-2
      Beckensall, Stan, 2010, Coastal Castles of Northumberland (Amberley) p. 9-10, 23-46
      Geldard, Ed, 2009, Northumberland Strongholds (London: Frances Lincoln) p. 58
      Purton, P.F., 2010, A History of the Late Medieval Siege: 1200-1500 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 86, 91-2, 114, 124, 132, 296, 398
      Menuge, Adam and Dewar, Catherine, 2009, Berwick-upon-Tweed Three places, two nations, one town (English Heritage)
      Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 24, 75, 78, 97, 99, 175, 22, 247, 270
      Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 176-7
      Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 12-14
      Bond, C.J., 1987, 'Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Defences' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 92-116 (plan) online copy
      King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 362
      Colvin, H.M., Ransome, D.R. and Summerson, John, 1982, The history of the King's Works Vol. 4: 1485-1660 (part 2) (London) p. 613-664
      MacIvor, I., 1981, 'Artillery and major places of strength in the Lothians and the east border, 1513-1542' in Caldwell, H. (ed), Scottish Weapons and Fortifications 1100-1800 (Donald) p. 94-152
      Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 63-7
      Barley, M.W., 1975, 'Town Defences in England and Wales after 1066' in Barley (ed) The plans and topography of medieval towns in England and Wales (CBA Research Report 14) p. 57-71 download/view online
      Turner, H.L., 1971, Town Defences in England and Wales (London) p. 98-9
      Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 563-571
      Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 434-42 online copy
      Scott, 1888, Berwick-upon-Tweed (London) p. 29, 133, 141-2
      Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 3 (London) p. 343-7 online copy
  • Periodical Articles
    • Creighton, Oliver, 2006, ''Castles of Communities': Medieval Town Defences in England; Wales and Gascony' Château Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 75-86
      Paterson, Caroline, 2000, 'The Bell Tower at Berwick-upon-Tweed' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser5) Vol. 28 p. 163-75
      Kenyon, J.R., 1981 'Early Artillery Fortifications in England and Wales: a Preliminary Survey and Re-appraisal' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 138 p. 222-5
      MacIvor, I., 1976, 'The fortifications, Berwick-upon-Tweed' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 133 p. 182-4
      MacIvor, I., 1965, 'The Elizabethan Fortifications of Berwick upon Tweed' Antiquaries Journal Vol. 45 p. 64-96
      White, K.G., 1962-3, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland Vol. 96 p. 355-60
      1906-8, 'Berwick on Tweed' History of the Berwickshire Naturalist Club Vol. 20 p. 252- online copy
      Forster, R.H., 1907, 'The Walls of Berwick-upon-Tweed' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 13 p. 89-104 online copy
      1857, 'The booke of the circuyte and particuler decayes of the town and castell of Barwicke' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 1 p. 87-94 (early C16 survey) online copy
  • Guidebooks
    • Pattison, P., 2011, Berwick barracks and fortifications (London: English Heritage)
      Grove, Doreen, 1999, Berwick Barracks and Fortifications (London: English Heritage)
      MacIvor, Iain, 1990, The fortifications of Berwick-upon-Tweed (London: English Heritage)
      MacIvor, Iain, 1972, The fortifications of Berwick-upon-Tweed (HMSO)
      MacIvor, Iain, 1965, The fortifications of Berwick-upon-Tweed (HMSO)
  • Primary (Medieval documents or transcriptions of such documents - This section is far from complete and the secondary sources should be consulted for full references.)
  • Antiquarian (Histories and accounts from late medieval and early modern writers)
  • Other sources: Theses; 'grey' literature; in-house reports; unpublished works; etc.
    • Northumberland County Council, 2009, 'Berwick-upon-Tweed' Northumberland Extensive Urban Survey doi:10.5284/1000177 download copy
      Dalland, M., 2006, Berwick-upon-Tweed Defences, Evaluation Data Structure Report (Headland Archaeology Ltd: Edinburgh) online copy
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This record last updated on Saturday, November 15, 2014

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