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Dally Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Dala; Dale; Dallie; Delaley; Dalley

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NY77498438
Latitude 55.15326° Longitude -2.35490°

Dally Castle has been described as a certain Tower House.

There are masonry footings remains.

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


Dally Castle and its associated buildings and earthworks are very well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. The fortified house is thought to be the earliest surviving hall house in Northumberland and its architectural features are of the highest quality. Its subsequent modification to a tower house enhances its importance and it will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of this type of high status medieval dwelling.
The monument includes the remains of a fortified house, later remodelled as a tower house, of medieval date, situated on the summit of a ridge within a meander of the Chirden Burn. The upstanding remains are Listed Grade I. The site of the fortified house has been isolated by the digging of a substantial ditch, 25m wide and a maximum of 4.5m deep, across the north western part of the ridge, and by a less substantial ditch across the south eastern side. Natural protection is afforded on the north east and south western sides by steep slopes. The fortified house, which is situated between the two ditches, is visible as a rectangular structure measuring 20.9m north west to south east by 11.8m north east to south west, with walls of regular sandstone blocks 1.8m thick. This building is thought to be early 13th century in date and its basic plan is an upper floor hall house above a columned basement. Each of the long side walls had three regularly spaced arrow loops, or narrow windows, and each of the end walls had one loop placed centrally. All of the windows were blocked soon after building and in the south west corner of the house two of the windows have been obscured by an internal cupboard and a fireplace. The most westerly window in the south wall was subsequently replaced by a larger window, still clearly visible. In the later 13th and 14th century the house was remodelled into a tower house and a number of features were added; these include a square tower at the north west corner, a tower at the north east corner, a pair of butresses on the north wall and a small tower at the south west corner. It is also thought that an entire storey was added. A pair of buttresses added to the south wall of the house are thought to be an even later addition. The original entrance to the house is thought to have lain in the eastern end of the south wall, although there is now only a gap in the masonry. The foundations of a rectangular building, orientated east to west and measuring 9m by 6.4m, are located 10m east of the house. The building is thought to be the remains of an associated chapel. Further to the east of the house, on the eastern side of the smaller ditch, there are further slight foundations of a small building 3m square. Dally Castle is believed to be the building erected by David Linsey in his manor of Chirdon, referred to in a document of 1237 as the 'house with remarkably thick walls in the form of a tower'. The manor was confiscated on two occasions in 1289 and 1296. On the second occasion it was granted to John de Swinburne, reverting to the Crown on his death in 1326 when it was described as 'the site of a manor burnt by the Scots'. The fortified house is not mentioned in the 1415 or the 1541 lists of Border strongholds but it is known that by 1604 it was held of the Crown and occupied by the Dodds family. The condition of the house deteriorated; by the 18th century it was roofless and in the early 19th century little stonework was visible. The building underwent limited excavation in 1888 when a series of columns forming part of the basement were removed. The work also uncovered a helmet and part of a sword. After substantial consolidation in the late 20th century, the walls are visible standing to a maximum height of 1.8m. Further columns and other architectural fragments were also uncovered and remain at the site. (Scheduling Report)

Ruined castle. C13 and C14. Squared stone. Rectangular, c.50 x 30 ft. with projecting towers at three corners. The walls stand from two feet to about five feet above ground and more below the surface. Finely-cut chamfered plinth. Several arrow slits and parts of arrow slits remain. They are finely-detailed with rounded jambs and steeply-sloping sills and lintels. (Listed Building Report)
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:28

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