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Haltwhistle Castle Hill

In the civil parish of Haltwhistle.
In the historic county of Northumberland.
Modern Authority of Northumberland.
1974 county of Northumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY71126416
Latitude 54.97123° Longitude -2.45261°

Haltwhistle Castle Hill has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

Description

Castle Hill is a prominent, probably natural mound located towards the eastern end of Haltwhistle and a little way to the west of the steeply incised Haltwhistle Burn. It has long been considered a motte (Hodgson 1840, 117-18; Hunter Blair 1944, 164; Long 1967, 114). The western side of the mound certainly appears to have been artificially scarped and it is topped with a bank between 0.9m and 1.2m in height which today survives around the north and east sides. This would seem, morphologically, to make it a ringwork rather than a motte. Despite much conjecture, little has been determined about the detailed chronology of these earthworks, and the mound is, today, quite severely impacted by development. An archaeological watching brief carried out in 1992 when foundations were dug for an extension to Brae Bonny House, which lies against the mound, recovered one sherd of green-glazed pottery. The monitoring archaeologist concluded that the site had been levelled at some previous date and also established that an earlier extension of an adjacent house had required excavation deep into the mound, revealing 'several layers of stratigraphy'. Hodgson conjectured that Castle Hill was the site of the medieval court for South Tynedale, as Wark-on-Tyne was for North Tynedale (1840, 119), but this does not appear to be supported by any documentary evidence, which is relatively plentiful for the role of Wark in this function. Indeed, in 1290, an inquiry into the death of a man in Haltwhistle resulting from a quarrel in the town was heard at Wark before the Bailiffs of Tynedale (Polson 1902, 74), presumably meaning that there was no court at Haltwhistle to carry out this function. (Northumberland Extensive Urban Survey)

Probable early Norman ringwork castle partially surviving as an earthwork. Modern development has destroyed much, but a substantial bank remains on the east side. Presumably well out of use before Musgrove Tower was erected within banks. Excavations on the hill in 1992 found medieval pottery.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
  • English Heritage (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s) 15481.
  • County Historic Environment Record (or Sites and Monuments Record) number(s) N6684.
  • Websites (Gatehouse is not responsible for the content of external websites.)
  • Books
    • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 368
      Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 59
      Jackson, M.J.,1992, Castles of Northumbria (Carlisle) p. 72
      Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 48
      King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 334
      Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 182
      Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 114
      Pevsner, N., 1957, Buildings of England: Northumberland (London, Penguin) p. 163
      Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
      Tomlinson, W.W., 1888, A Comprehensive Guide to Northumberland (London) p. 168
      Hodgson, J., 1840, History of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Part 2 Vol. 3 p. 117-18 online copy
  • Periodical Articles
    • 1992-93, Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 3 p. 15
      King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
      Hunter Blair, C.H., 1944, 'The Early Castles of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser4) Vol. 22 p. 116-70 esp 164
      Ball, 1923, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser4) Vol. 1 p. 63-5
  • Other sources: Theses; 'grey' literature; in-house reports; unpublished works; etc.
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This record last updated on Saturday, November 15, 2014

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