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Old Callaly Castle Hill

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Kaloule Vet

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NU06080971
Latitude 55.38133° Longitude -1.90558°

Old Callaly Castle Hill has been described as a probable Timber Castle, and also as a probable Masonry Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The hillfort on Castle Hill is exceptionally well preserved. Its situation and the scale of its defences show that it was a settlement of some importance in the region. It will contribute to our understanding of the range and nature of prehistoric settlement in the area at this time. The good defensive nature of the site led to its re-use during the medieval period; subsequently the medieval tower was abandoned in favour of a new location at the foot and to the west of the hill. Hence the site will retain significant and largely undisturbed remains of this early medieval activity and will contribute to any study of the development of the adjacent castle.
The monument includes a hillfort of Iron Age date and a later medieval tower situated on Castle Hill, commanding extensive views in all directions. The irregularly shaped hillfort measures a total of 225m east to west by 115m north to south and exhibits several phases of activity. The main enclosure on the hilltop is roughly sub-rectangular in shape and is 80m east-west by 50m north-south; it is surrounded on three sides by a rock cut ditch 12-17m wide and 3m-7m deeper than the internal ground level. There is a counterscarp bank 4m wide which rises 2m-3m above the external ground level and an internal bank 3m wide and 0.8m high. The northern side of the enclosure is defended by a strongly scarped bank. Two opposing entrances in the east and west sides are carried on causeways across the ditch. Within the enclosure there are the remains of two rectangular buildings in the north-west corner. They measure 15m by 13m and 15m by 8m. These are interpreted as the remains of Old Callaly Castle known from documentary sources to have been held by Sir John Clavering in 1415. The use of the term Old Callaly suggests that the later tower, around which the present castle was built, was already standing in 1415 and that this earlier tower on Castle Hill was retained as a place of defence or a lookout. West of the main enclosure there are two contiguous annexes, the inner one defended by a bank 7m wide giving access to the second defended by a bank 4m wide. More than one period may be represented by the remains on Castle Hill and the strong ditch may be a later medieval feature associated with the medieval tower, this being constructed within the earlier defensive system. In the late 19th century several Bronze Age stone coffins were discovered during quarrying on the north side of Castle Hill. (Scheduling Report)
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:10

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