The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Yeavering 'Tower'

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
King Edwin's Palace; yevering

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NT92423018
Latitude 55.56528° Longitude -2.12157°

Yeavering 'Tower' has been described as a probable Bastle, and also as a Pele Tower although is doubtful that it was such.

There are masonry footings remains.


Christopher Dacre's map of 1584 shows a tower at Yeavering (Bates 1891).
A long quadrangular house at Old Yeavering has walls five feet thick and is probably a medieval pele (Tate 1862)
The building is now used as a farm outbuilding and is in reasonable condition (F1 DK 27-JAN-1967).
Probably 16th century, with alterations. Built of random igneous rubble with Welsh slate roof. Formerly a towerhouse or bastle, quite possibly of a similar type to the nearby Akeld bastle since it shares the same long rectangular plan. It is now much altered and only one storey, but it has walls 4-5ft thick and an early doorway on the side, now blocked, but with a chamfered alterating block surround. Right of this are two other later doors, gabled roof (Grundy 1987). (Northumberland HER)

Tradition says, that a long quadrangular house at Old Yevering, now occupied by a shepherd, is Edwin's palace. The walls are five feet in thickness and built of porphyry blocks, but not in regular courses, and seemingly without lime; squared oak posts pass perpendicularly through the middle of the walls, and they supported the roof and helped too to give stability to these walls. Old doorways and windows with square headings are traceable; but besides rudeness of structure, there are no characters to carry back this building to the Saxon period. Possibly it may stand on or near the site of the old palace; it probably belongs to mediaeval times, and may have been a rude pele for the protection of the village against the raids which rendered life and property insecure in the border land. (Tate 1862)

There is now no visible evidence of 'squared oak post', which is unfortunate, as the description suggests that the building was a survivor of an unusual type, unrecorded elsewhere in the country. The thickness of the walls suggest that it was intended to be a defensible structure, and the use of timber links it to the 'peles' of Tynedale recorded in the 1541 survey. The remains of the substantial wall enclosing the small field to the south may also imply a defensive role, and a barmkin or yard attached to the main building.
Christopher Dacre's 1584 'plat' or map of 'castles and fortresses' shows a line of defensible buildings (indicated by drawings of small house like structures) in this area, including Akeld (presumably the build now known as 'Akeld Castle'), Yeavering, East Newton and West Newton. It seems highly likely that the building shown at Yeavering (which does not figure in the 1541 Border survey) is in fact 'King Edwin's Palace'; its dimensions (at present 17 x 7-7.5m, but probably originally a little longer) correspond exactly with those of Akeld Bastle (19 x 7.3m), although in its having a stone-vaulted ground floor Akeld is clearly a rather superior building.
it would appear to have been a building transitional in form between a timber-framed and a stone structure, where the timber-frame provided the main structural support, and the rough rubble masonry, possibly unmortared, a substantial barrier and a defense against fire. (Ryder 1991)

A project to conserve the building known as 'King Edwin's Palace', now more commonly called 'The Old Palace', located on the eastern edge of Kirknewton township and parish (NGR NT 924302) is being funded by Natural England as part of a Higher Level Stewardship management agreement for the Yeavering Estate. The site is owned by Lord Anthony Hill of Lilburn Hill Ltd, while the architect for the conservation project is Robin Dower of Spence & Dower Chartered Architects. Paul Frodsham, of ORACLE Heritage Services, is the owner's archaeological advisor and has acted as Project Manager for this evaluation. The work is funded by Natural England through the Yeavering Higher Level Stewardship agreement, under the management of Tom Gledhill. The Northumberland National Park Authority is also closely involved as the local planning authority. Indeed, the National Park Authority has long had an interest in the Old Palace, and the current project will help to realise the better management of the building as proposed in a long-standing Management Agreement between the Authority and the owner of the Yeavering Estate.
Excavation within the Old Palace has revealed a floor surface of stone flags patched with brickwork at the east end of the structure, probably associated with a fireplace and largely confined to the east side of an interior division marked by the footings of a stone wall.
Elsewhere in the building it appears that the flagged floor which is presumed to have been present has been removed, presumably for re-use elsewhere. Although hints of rough flagging were present to suggest that the building may have been re-floored for later use as a stock barn, it is just as likely that the compressed earth floor immediately underlying the modern concrete surface served such a purpose during its latest phase of agricultural use.
Excavations into the underlying deposits of river worn cobbles did not identify any earlier floor levels or other features. In particular, the re-excavation of a trench excavated by Hope-Taylor in the 1950s did not reveal any unnatural features, such as floor surfaces, or breaks in stratigraphy indicating the depth of made deposits.
With regard to the impact of scheme originally proposed for supporting a roofed structure on beams within the Old Palace building, it is concluded that this would impact negatively upon the surviving floor at the east end of the building and a preferable option would be to site pillars for such a structure outside the structure.
With regard to the standing structure, a building survey carried out in association with Peter Ryder and photographic recording with Paul Frodsham provided a more complete record of the building than had hitherto been undertaken. As a result of observations made during these investigations, it was concluded that the earliest structure was a long narrow and low building with thick walls of clay-bonded rubble, which include early structural timber elements, a feature which makes the building unique in the area. Further evidence for the original character or construction and subsequent phasing of the building may come to light during consolidation works, but it is concluded that the potential for dendro-archaeological dating of the upright wall timbers also merits investigation.
With regard to the pre-modern function of the building, aerial photographs of the structure in the context of its immediate landscape setting provide additional evidence upon which to base hypotheses that could be tested archaeologically. (The Archaological Practice Website)

King writes this is a village mismarked as a tower on the 1590 map. Yeavering was the site of a C7 Saxon Royal Palace, but does not appear to have maintained it's high status in the 2nd millennium. By 1584 this was the site of a tenant farm, held by the Storey family for a yearly rent of 26s. 8d. Their farmhouse was probably a bastle of the pele-house type, but Gatehouse suspects not stone vaulted like Akeld, indeed Tate's description may suggest a single storey building. King may well be right that, in the terms of Dacre's map, this was not ever consider a 'tower' but just represents a mislabelling, but the Storey's would have had enough money for horses and firearms and would have represent the sort of people intended to defend the frontier.
This C16 building, possibly of a rare type, does not appear to be listed. Is this because it clearly not being a C7 palace means it was dismissed of being of any import?
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER            
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of Historic England, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain information licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact