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Shidlaw Tower, Carham

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Carham Hall

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NT80353878
Latitude 55.64221° Longitude -2.31375°

Shidlaw Tower, Carham has been described as a Pele Tower although is doubtful that it was such.

There are no visible remains.


Carham Hall was built on the site of a C13 tower. In 1541 it was called a 'little tower without barmkin or gate'. The hall was built in the mid to late C19 for the Compton family. (Keys to the Past)

SHIDLAW, a hamlet, half a mile E. of Carham. Its name is supposed to be a corruption of Shield-law, which signifies a guard-hill, or exploratory. Perhaps there was a strong-hold here, to which the people of Carham retired with their cattle, on the approach of a hostile party; as the summit of this eminence commands an extensive view into Scotland. (Parson 1828)

It is not at all certain that there was a medieval building of any sort at the site occupied by Carham Hall which is on the bank of the Tweed and not upon the Shidlaw hill half a mile south of it. The authority given for the statement is Straker Smith, a man who lived in the hall and may have been repeating earlier unfounded stories designed to give the C19 house some kudos (or even to give himself kudos - he was High Sheriff of Northumberland in 1938, a position which was often held by people with family seats that were genuine medieval fortifications). The medieval manor caput of Carham was Wark Castle and it does not appear from Vickers full county history (which makes no mention of any such tower) that any of the tenants of Carham vilage had the income to build a tower. The C16 references to a 'little tower' are for Carham pele recorded by Leland and which was said to be provided for the villages as an emergency refuge should, arguably, be in the village. It is likely there was just one tower despite there being two PastScape records. However Dodds (1999) does imply two sites with the suggestion the site at Shidlaw (he may mean the hamlet at NT807380 on a hill top rather than Carham Hall) was a watch tower, rather than a refuge or tower house.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:28

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